Milwaukee County Parks
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Protecting Our Natural Resources

The Natural Areas Team at Milwaukee County Parks manages over 10,000 acres of land. From forests and prairies to surrogate grasslands and fens, the natural areas under Milwaukee County Parks stewardship are vital to the environmental health of the region. We respectfully acknowledge that the lands and waters encompassed by the Milwaukee County Park System are on the ancestral homeland of Indigenous People. We honor the ancestral owners and strive to be respectful stewards. Learn more in our Land Acknowledgement Statement.    

With the help of volunteers and community scientists, the Natural Areas Team monitors wildlife populations, develops habitat restoration plans, and protects the wild spaces that enhance the ecological health of Milwaukee County. Each year, volunteers donate 13.000 hours, valued at nearly a half million dollars.

Milwaukee County Parks Natural Areas - Clearing Invasive Cattails

Reducing Invasive Species

Managing invasive species that threaten our native plants and wildlife is an ongoing effort. Invasive species displace native species, reduce biodiversity, degrade wildlife habitat, and factor into the decline of threatened and endangered species.

The Natural Areas Team controls dozens of species of invasive plants throughout the county. Species include Japanese knotweed, lesser celandine, Asian bittersweet, Japanese barberry, invasive bush honeysuckle, privet, common burdock, and wild parsnip. In addition, the team helps organize Weed-Outs with friends groups and volunteers to remove invasives such as common buckthorn, garlic mustard, and dame's rocket.

Bumble-Bee Monitoring

Monitoring Wildlife

Monitoring wildlife populations is a reliable way to determine the ecological health of our natural areas and the success of our restoration efforts. Data collected by staff and community scientists is crucial in helping to make sure that common species remain common, and that rare, threatened, and endangered species are protected and properly managed. Current wildlife monitoring programs include:

  • Bumble Bee Monitoring
  • Bird Window Strike Monitoring
  • Nest Box Monitoring and Maintenance
  • Wetland Monitoring
  • Bat Monitoring
  • Turtle Basking Surveys
  • Wildlife Camera Trapping


Milwaukee County Parks Bird Box in a field

Protecting the Birds

As a designated Important Bird Area, Milwaukee County Parks takes additional measures to protect the diverse habitat of our feathered friends, including oak woodlands, riparian forest, recreated prairie, 85 miles of river and stream corridors, a diversity of wetlands, and 15 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. The Moratorium Policy on Vegetation Management During the Bird Nesting Season directs the work of not only the Parks, but also the entities doing work through right-of-entry permits.

Milwaukee County Parks Natural Areas Staff: with Large Tree Root

Other Activities of the Natural Areas Team

  • Ecological Restoration and Management Planning
  • Vegetative Inventories and Mapping
  • Native Seed Collection and Propagation
  • Nuisance Wildlife Management and Protection of Listed Species
  • Oak Woodland Restoration
  • Reforestation and Pollinator Garden Plantings
  • Community Engagement, Partnership Development, and Early Professional Mentoring

Milwaukee County Parks Natural Areas Strategic Plan  - cover

Natural Areas Strategic Plan

2024 - 2033

Part 1: Executive Summary, Overview

Part 2: Management and Goals

Part 3: Guiding Principals

Part 4: Measuring Success 

Part 5: Appendices


Natural Areas 2023 Review

Research and community-based monitoring programs include:

  • Invasive Species Management
  • Native Plant Research & Restoration
  • Reforestation
  • Wetland Mitigation
  • Wildlife Monitoring
  • Ecological Restoration

Read the 2023 Review



Protection of Nature
Milwaukee County Ordinance 47.08 addresses destruction of property, protection of nature, removal or deposits of material, and penalties for violations.

Learn more about it!


Projects on iNaturalist



9480 W. Watertown Plank Road
Wauwatosa, WI 53226
(414) 257-PARK (7275)
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