Water makes civilization. People need water to survive, of course, but in the Midwest, Native Americans and, later, European settlers used the rivers and lakes as roads - roads that were far easier to travel through than thick forests. The communities of Ozaukee exist, mainly, because of two bodies of water: Lake Michigan, and the Milwaukee River.
The Milwaukee River begins in Fond du Lac County (there are three branches, but they all begin there). It becomes a significant river just north of Kewaskum, flows through West Bend, and eventually makes its way into Ozaukee county via Newburg, where it crosses County Y right near Riveredge Nature Center. It makes its way north, though the quaint little village of Waubeka, runs along the west side of Fredonia, and proceeds south through downtown Saukville. Most Ozaukeeans meet the Milwaukee River as they pass over it on Highway 60 in downtown Grafton. Just a little ways south of Lakefield Road, Cedar Creek, which runs through downtown Cedarburg, becomes one with the Milwaukee River, and it continues south through Thiensville and Mequon. It winds its way, 104 miles in total, eventually reaching the city that its name inspired, merging with the Menomonee and Kinnickinnic Rivers, and entering Lake Michigan just south of the Summerfest grounds.
Nearly every community in Ozaukee County, besides the communities of Port Washington and Belgium, are a part of the Milwaukee River Basin, which means we are partially responsible for the health of the Milwaukee River. Luckily, there is a great organization working hard to make it easy to do our part: Milwaukee Riverkeeper. There organization has a number of events coming up that you may want to take part in.
From Friday, May 20th to Sunday, May 22nd, Milwaukee Riverkeeper is one of Lowland Grand Cafes’ featured charities for their Cafe Hollander Mequon Grand Opening Benefit! When you dine at Cafe Hollander Mequon for brunch, lunch or dinner Friday, May 20 - Sunday, May 22, 2016, all food and Van Steenberge bier sales will go directly to Milwaukee Riverkeeper and two other charities. Help train Cafe Hollander Mequon's staff and sample their menu, while helping the Milwaukee River - who knew it could be so easy?
In keeping with the beer theme, on Sunday, June 5, from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm, join Milwaukee Riverkeeper and Lakefront Brewery for Barrels and Beer, an afternoon of decorating your own rain barrels, while sampling some of Lakefront's finest, all while enjoying a relaxing riverfront view. For just $30, you get a 60 gallon, blue barrel and all of the supplies you need. Register early, as supplies are limited.
If you love getting outdoors - and especially on the water - Milwaukee Riverkeeper and Clear Water Outdoor has a series of summer Paddle Tours led by a Milwaukee Riverkeeper staff member:
Monday, June 27, 2016 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm (Fish & Fish Habitat)
Monday, July 25, 2016 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm (River Health Advocacy)
Monday, August 29, 2016 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm (Water Quality)
You might also be interested in the 11th Annual Milky Moonlight Paddle on Monday, July 18th, from 6:15-9:30. This is an urban river adventure that is not to be missed! Bring your canoe/kayak, paddles, pdf's, and a light - drinks and sandwiches will be provided - and float down the Milwaukee River to where it meets Lake Michigan!
Find out more about these great events, and others, at www.MilwaukeeRiverkeeper.org, and learn more about how you can help the Milwaukee River!