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Dig in for river cleanup

Effort aims to remove invasives, add shrubs, trees along Hart Park

March 27, 2012

Volunteers are needed to help clean up the stretch of the Menomonee River within Hark Park as part of the annual Spring Menomonee River Cleanup and Revitalization on April 21.

This year the event, organized by the Friends of Hart Park Foundation and the Milwaukee Riverkeeper, will focus on planting trees and shrubs and removing invasive plant species, as well as general cleanup.

The cost of the new trees and shrubs is being covered by a $4,000 grant provided by Sweet Water Trust, a foundation that, according to its website, supports "land conservation that safeguards wild land and waters, native wild flora and fauna, and living soils."

"We've ordered 270 trees and shrubs," said Rosemary Wehnes, president of the Friends of Hart Park Foundation. "We will probably be planting additional native grasses in the fall."

The majority of the shrubs will be planted along the river stretching from the western end of the park to 63rd Street, while an oak grove is planned for the riverbank stretching from 63rd to 68th streets.

In addition to the planting work, volunteers will be needed to remove invasive plant species such as buckthorn, tree of heaven and honeysuckle.

"(Buckthorn) is such a problem along the river," Wehnes said. "We've taken out a huge amount in Hart Park; you can actually see the river between the trees now. Part of the reason we're doing the project is that we need to plant native species so the buckthorn won't come back up."

Other volunteers will be needed to pick up garbage, wash benches and rake out the rain gardens.

A group of Marquette University students, as well as an estimated 100 Kohl's employees, plan to volunteer, and the group is looking for more help because of the amount of work that needs to be done, Wehnes said.

"What I'm really looking for now are some team leaders, anyone who has horticultural knowledge," she said.

Five team leaders are needed to help lead volunteers in the planting and 10 team leaders are needed to help lead volunteers in the removal of invasive species.

Tools such as shovels and loppers also are needed to complete the work. A small portion of the grant from Sweet Water Trust will be used to purchase some equipment.

Volunteers are being asked to bring any tools they may have that can help in the efforts. Otherwise, contributions can be made to the Friends of Hart Park Foundation for the purchase of additional tools.

Bags and gloves will be available on-site, Wehnes said.

Those interested in volunteering should register at www.milwaukeeriverkeeper.org. Everyone who registers prior to the event will receive a free T-shirt upon sign-in at 9 a.m. at the Muellner Building.

Those interested in volunteering as a team leader should contact Rosemary Wehnes at (414) 828-1357 or by email at ihartpark@gmail.com.

If you go

WHAT: Spring Menomonee River Cleanup and Revitalization

WHERE: Hart Park, 300 Chestnut St.

WHEN: 9 a.m. to noon April 21

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