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Friends of Hart Park gets grant for riverside plantings

But providing bags for pet droppings unlikely to happen

Dec. 20, 2011

After years of trying to remove invasive species from the banks of the Menomonee River, the Friends of the Hart Park believe they've made some headway.

The next step is to put in trees and plants that will block buckthorn from growing back, said Rosemary Wehnes, Friends president.

To that end, the Friends applied for and received a $4,000 grant for stream bank restoration from Sweet Water, the regional watershed trust.

The money will be used to purchase the plants, she told the Parks and Forestry Board on Tuesday.

The group will count on volunteers to provide the manpower. More than 100 people turned out to the last Earth Day cleanup event, and similar work sessions will be planned for 2012. In addition, the group will organize river walks and conservation talks to make people aware of local natural resources and hopefully attract more help.

"We have a year to complete the project," she said.

The Friends will work with city arborists to ensure the right species are selected, Wehnes said.

Sweet Water handed out $24,000 to eight groups. A second round of grant proposals will close Dec. 30.

A Menomonee Falls group is working on an application for grant dollars that would pay for pet waste disposal units and is looking for other municipalities that want to partner. The idea is to make it easy for dog owners to clean up dog droppings by providing bags in a convenient spot so the waste doesn't get washed into the water system.

Wehnes questioned the board to see if Wauwatosa could benefit from pet waste disposal units. Each community would like to get two units and a year's worth of bags, with the expectation that the city would buy its own bags going forward.

By ordinance, dogs are prohibited in Hart Park, said Tom Ertel, board president. However, they are generally allowed to cross through to reach the bike trail.

Putting in waste units might confuse people and actually send the message that people should bring pets to the park, parks officials said.

"People who are exercising with their dogs on the trail come prepared," said Ken Walbrant, parks and forestry superintendent.

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