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Cambridge Woods

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Watch what happens in the near future to Cambridge Woods, the area bordered by the Milwaukee River, Shorewood’s Hubbard Park, Oakland Avenue, and Locust Street. A grass roots effort led by environmentalists and neighborhood activists Peter McMullen and Else Ankel is under way to preserve and enhance the environmental corridor. Talk started a year ago when McMullen, President of the Cambridge Woods Neighborhood Association, surveyed members and used the results to draft the preliminary plan presented on the Association’s website: www.cambridgewoods.org As with any community project, many opinions are represented, but keeping the area green seems to be unanimous. “We want to keep the woods as natural as possible,” said McMullen, a Cambridge Woods resident since 1982. “We don’t want to do anything that would disrupt the natural habitat.” Ankel, Vice President of CWNA and a resident since 1965, is in complete agreement. “If you make a green space very usable for humans, this is the most detrimental for all other species,” she explained. “We are not talking about those extremes, however, but somewhere in-between where it’s best for all the species.” Ankel went on to point out that her house on Bartlett is her habitat, the woods her recreation. “But for some critters and some plants, the woods is their only place.” The popular Oak Leaf Bike Trail runs between the woods and CW neighborhood, and providing safe access to the Trail from Cambridge Avenue is high priority for all. Access at Hampshire Avenue across from the “boat house” seems the most familiar and logical choice. The site in its present condition is worn, eroded and unsafe, but the elevation is manageable for a bike ramp or gutter and steps. A safer access here would better serve UWM and other commuters biking the Oak Leaf Trail. McMullen and Ankel would like to see more families using the woods. They favor keeping the dirt footpaths and getting neighborhood volunteers to pick up trash, and replace invasive species with native plants. Wooden benches and a kiosk have been suggested along with rustic markers identifying environmental and historical points of interest. “This is a wonderful teaching experience for little people,” said Ankel. She envisions a block party to include riverbank plant restoration. “In other words, I’d like to see this green area be part of the quality of our lives.” McMullen would like for folks passing through to “recognize this as a neighborhood that cares about the Trail and woods.” Direct any comments or questions to: Peter McMullen, .