Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Kletzsch Park riverbank project remains stalled

It's a pleasure to report that Kletzsch Park and Milwaukee River preservationists are being heard by the Milwaukee County Board.

You may remember that the County had proposed changes to the park in Glendale which would have included building a fish passage viewing stand on the river's west bank, thereby threatening historic oak trees

and a nearby Indian prairie land, as local author and activist Martha Bergland has written:
Remnants of Indian Prairie and the feeling of this sacred and ceremonial place remain today. To Indian people whose land all of this was, Kletzsch Park/Indian Prairie was and still is a special place. In Indian Prairie, and at two other places in the Milwaukee River watershed, early inhabitants constructed pairs of huge cross mounds. Four great intaglio effigies found no where else in the world were constructed in Indian Prairie.... 
In 1850 Menomini people lived in villages near today’s Good Hope Island. Through periodic burning, they maintained the oak savanna, remnants of which still exist as the bur oaks along the river. They came here to build conical mounds from the varied and rare soils still found in Kletzsch Park. They came to tend garden beds of which traces still exist. They forded the river in the shallows at Good Hope Island. They tended fish traps in the river. They witnessed sturgeon spawning in the shallows. A morning’s walk away were the berries of the lake shore forest, the wild rice beds of the river mouths, and myriad ducks and geese.
Though the county-led Kletzsch Park project team is trying to improve river health and access — and these are worthy goals —they are ignoring the feel of the place and the history of the place. They don’t know what they’ve got and they won’t till it’s gone. Just as good medicine strives to treat the whole being without causing harm, so should fish passage promote the area’s whole complex ecology without harming the trees and the bank.
Months of opposition and education had convinced the County to leave the oaks alone - - though as Bergland points out, the area is an inter-connected-and-dependant whole - - so the projected harm to the riverbank and the Indian Prairie still faced strong and informed grassroots objections. 

Details of the opponents comprehensive position can be found here.

After the Milwaukee County Board's Committee on Parks, Energy and the Environment tabled the measure in December, opponents had planned to make their case again at the Committee's next meeting on January 28th.

Now you can find something else to do with your time and energy that day.

Committee chair Supervisor Jason Haas informed the opponents by email that the project remains tabled because "it will not see approval in its current form, [therefore] I do not plan to spend any more time considering it at committee."

So - - this is good news - - because the longer a project remains tabled by local elected officials, the better the odds that project will not happen, at least in its current form.

Call it a case study in Organizing 101.


Unknown said...

Thanks Jim!

Anonymous said...

Every time government gets involved with "historic or environmental issues" it becomes an unplanned disaster. What the Army Corps of Engineers has done to the Great Lakes is but one example. Anything that has any relation to First Nation people must be given extreme priority, no different that what is afforded all historical sites. Indian mounds and effigies are extremely rare in this part of the coutry and must be protected at all costs.