Community Engagement Events Our Work

Summer En La Plaza

The application for the 2024 Summer en La Plaza event series is now open! Summer en La Plaza is a series of gatherings hosted by individuals, neighbors, artists, entrepreneurs, or community groups to bring the Harbor View Plaza to life, fully utilize the space, and introduce new people to the space.

Application deadline is February 28, 2024 and the in-person Pitch Competition is Thursday, March 14 from 6-8pm at Enlightened Brewing Company (2020 S. Allis St.).

People interested in applying can view application requirements here and apply here!

¡La solicitud para Verano en La Plaza 2024 está abierta! Verano en La Plaza es una serie de eventos gratuitos organizados por vecinos, artistas, emprendedores/as, o grupos comunitarios para traer la comunidad al Harbor View Plaza.

La fecha de entrega es el 28 de febrero y la competencia de lanzamiento es el 14 de marzo de las 6-8pm en Enlightened Brewing Company (2020 S. Allis St.). 

¡Personas interesadas en aplicar pueden revisar los requisitos aquí y aplicar aquí! 


Email Nora Godoy- González, Harbor District Placemaking Director at

Mándale un correo electrónico a la Directora de Relaciones Comunitarias, Nora Godoy- González, a

Community Engagement Our Work

Science Boxes

harbor district COMMUNITY science boxes

What are they?

Harbor District Community Science Boxes are similar to Free Little Libraries that offer educational information for the community. 

Where can I find them?

There are currently three Harbor District Community Science Boxes. Explore each one at the locations below!

What is inside? 

Fun stuff! Although contents may vary you will most likely find:

  • Nature journals
  • Tree Finder booklets
  • Community Science workbooks
  • Milwaukee Butterfly Guides from the Milwaukee Public Museum
  • Milwaukee Urban River Trail Maps from Milwaukee Riverkeeper
  • Milwaukee County Trail Maps
  • Mini magnify glasses
  • Books on urban ecology and all things nature
  • Geocache treasures (coming soon)


We are always looking for educational items to fill our Community Science Boxes! If you have items to contribute, please reach out to the Harbor District at 

Thank you to our sponsor: Green Tree Garden Club

Our appreciation and thanks goes to the Green Tree Garden Club of Milwaukee. Their contribution to this project helps educate the greater Harbor District community. The purpose of the Green Tree Garden Club is to promote the knowledge and love of gardening by providing education and activities in the areas of conservation, horticulture and civic improvement.

Learn more about the Green Tree Garden Club and how you can become involved by visiting

Community Engagement Events Our Work

Harbor Fest

join us for harbor fest

Location: 600 E. Greenfield Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53204

Date: Sunday, September 29, 2024

Time: 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.


A variety of volunteer opportunities and time slots available! 

 Volunteers receive:
A Harbor Fest T-Shirt
One Food Truck Meal Ticket

Harbor Fest is a day where memories for 4,500+ Milwaukeeans are made against the backdrop of Milwaukee’s flourishing inner harbor and in front of UW-Milwaukee’s School of Freshwater Sciences.

This free, family-friendly street and water festival shows off all our harbor offers. The collaboration of Riveredge Nature Center and Harbor District to host Sturgeon Fest and Harbor Fest together solidifies this event as one not to miss!

For inquires, please email

Environmental Improvements Our Work

Stormwater Information and Resources

Stormwater Information and Resources

What is Green Infrastructure?

Green infrastructure captures rain water where it falls and absorbs water into the ground, keeping it out of the sewer system. This is especially important in places with a lot of paved surface. 

Green Infrastructure, as opposed to gray infrastructure like sewers, can take numerous forms like rain gardens, barrels, and porous pavers for parking lots, driveways, and sidewalks. All of these strategies store or absorb rain where it falls, keeping it out of our sewer system, which helps:

  • Protect rivers and lakes from water pollution.
  • Keep it from becoming someone else’s headache downstream.
  • Reduce the risk of basement backups, flooding, and sewer overflow.
Our Work Public Spaces

Greenfield Bridge Mural

Greenfield Bridge Mural

The Greenfield Bridge Mural painted by Nova Czarnecki signifies the gateway to the Harbor District. The mural showcases many of the native species still found in the area. Read below to learn more about all the birds, fish, and other wildlife that inhabit the Harbor District.
Great Blue Herons live in almost any wetland habitat in North America and Central America. They are the largest bird in North America ranging from 3-4.5 ft. tall and they can live to be 15 years old. 90% of their time awake is spent searching for food.
Black-Crowned Night Heron3
The Black-crowned Night Heron are native to North America and are found in aquatic habitats such as marshes, wetlands, swamps, rivers, lakes, or ponds. These birds like to nest with other bird species. As a defense mechanism, young Black-crowned Night Herons will vomit.
The Northern Cardinal is located throughout the central and eastern regions of North America. These birds do not migrate and they prefer to live in grassland and woodland landscapes. Unlike most songbirds across North America, both a male and female cardinal can sing.
Crows are found all over the world and the North American Crow prefers open areas. These birds are known for their adaptability and intelligence. A group of crows is referred to as a murder.
The American Goldfinch lives in floodplains and weedy fields throughout the United States and Canada. These birds mainly feed on seeds and typically live 3-6 years. The record age of a Goldfinch is 11 years old.
The American Robin lives in both wooded and urban areas throughout most of the United States. These birds are mostly active during the day. Most robins migrate south for the winter, but occasionally they will overwinter.
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpeckers are common in many Eastern forests and woodlands and have continued to spread northwestward further into the Great Plains. They are noisy birds that have a variety of calls.
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are common to many deciduous forest habitats near streams and marshes across the Midwest of North America. These birds migrate during the winter. They feed on insects, fruit, and seeds.
Yellow-Throated Warbler and Red-bellied Woodpecker and Western Meadowlark
Western Meadowlarks can be found across western and central North America. They live in grasslands, pastures, fields, meadows, and on the edges of marshes. They migrate south in the winter and they feed mainly on insects.
Pileated Woodpecker and Common Yellowthroat

Pileated Woodpeckers are found in the Northern half of North America and they like to live in heavily wooded areas. They dig rectangular holes in trees with their bill to find ants. This is the largest woodpecker in North America.

The Common Yellowthroat is found in thick marsh vegetation across North America. They feed on mostly insects and they typically migrate at night.

Red-Winged Blackbird and House Sparrow

Red-winged Blackbirds live in grassy areas and wetlands. They inhabit both saltwater and freshwater marshes, especially if cattail is present. The oldest wild Red-winged Blackbird was known to be 15 years old.

The House Sparrow is native to most of Asia, the Mediterranean Basin, and Europe. It is now the most widely distributed wild bird due to its accidental and intentional introductions to many other regions, including the Americas. These birds are very social and nest in colonies.

Northern Pike
The Northern Pike likes to live in rivers, streams, and lakes with dense vegetation throughout the northern hemisphere. Northern Pike have long, sharp teeth and bright yellow eyes. Also, they can swim up to 10 mph.
Rainbow Trout

Rainbow Trout are native to the North Pacific Ocean and Eastern Asia. Today, rainbow trout have been introduced to every continent except Antarctica. Rainbow Trout are predators that will eat almost anything they will catch.

Pumpkinseed Sunfish

Pumpkinseed sunfish live in warm, calm freshwater bodies that have vegetation throughout North America. They travel in schools with other sunfish and bluegills. These fish contain spines that are sharp and aid in protection.


Sturgeons are native to lakes and coastlines of North America and Eurasia. Most are bottom-feeders that migrate upstream to spawn. Sturgeons have barbels that help them locate prey hiding on the bottom, such as snails, clams, and insect larvae. Lake sturgeon can reach 6 ft. long, weigh 200 lbs., and females can live up to 150 years.

Brook Trout (1)

Brook Trout are freshwater fish that is native to Eastern North America and Canada, but they have been introduced throughout North America and even Alaska. They can grow to be 3 ft. long and live up to 9 years. Brook Trout are a good indicator species of pollutants because they require clean water to live.

Yellow Perch3

Yellow perch, also known as lake perch, are native to the Atlantic, Arctic, Great Lakes, and Mississippi River basins, as well as some other areas of Canada. They live close to the shore of slow-moving rivers, streams, and lakes, feeding on small fish and insects.

Lily Pads
Brook Trout are freshwater fish that is native to Eastern North America and Canada, but they have been introduced throughout North America and even Alaska. They can grow to be 3 ft. long and live up to 9 years. Brook Trout are a good indicator species of pollutants because they require clean water to live.

A girl is a young female human, usually a child or adolescent. Humans are characterized by erect posture, bipedal movement, high manual dexterity, and heavy tools use. They also have open-ended and complex language, and a general trend toward complex brains and societies. Humans are known for greatly altering their environment to suit their needs and wants.

Community Engagement Our Work

Education Programs

Education Programs

HDI has worked with a number of schools that fall within a two-mile radius of the Harbor District to create fun educational experiences. Students are given a number of in-person class visits by HDI staff that range from community building to ecologies and are then brought to the Harbor District for a field trip.

Field trips range from wildlife field data collection to boat tours of the Harbor District. Our educational programming is free and flexible. More information can be found in our brochure linked below.

Environmental Improvements Our Work

Ecological Breakwater Project

Ecological Breakwater project

The Ecological Breakwater project, originating from the Waterfront Innovations Design Charette convened by Milwaukee Harbor District and the City of Milwaukee in 2015, provides a significant opportunity to enhance the structure that protects Port Milwaukee and other infrastructure in Milwaukee Harbor, while also advancing ecological breakwater innovation. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Chicago District is responsible for maintaining breakwater systems around the Great Lakes region. The Ecological Breakwater project will help USACE Chicago District explore the possibilities for integrating protection of coastal assets with ecological improvements.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) is providing $455,800 in competitive grant funding for design enhancements to the Milwaukee Harbor breakwater system that will improve wetland habitat and protect lakeside infrastructure. The grant was awarded to Milwaukee Harbor District in partnership with the City of Milwaukee and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
For questions regarding the Ecological Breakwater Project, please contact Milwaukee Harbor District’s Environmental Director, Aaron Zeleske,
Community Engagement Our Work

Neighborhood Advisory Committee (NAC)

Neighborhood Advisory Commitee (NAC)

The Neighborhood Advisory Committee is made up of nearby residents who serve as our neighborhood experts. The NAC advises us on outreach methods, event ideas, and decision-making that will benefit neighborhoods surrounding the Harbor District.

If you live in or near the Harbor District and would like to be a part of the NAC please contact Nora Godoy-González at

Environmental Improvements Our Work



Even though the Harbor District is in the very heart of Milwaukee and has been the center of economic activity for centuries, there is still a healthy community of organisms that live here. From mammals like deer, coyotes, gray and red fox, muskrats, beavers, groundhogs, squirrels, and bats all the way down to dragonflies, insects, and barely visible invertebrates in the water, a rich ecology is thriving just out of sight. The Harbor District has identified ways to improve habitat so that more things besides humans can find a home here, through rebuilding ecological functioning of the landscape. We do this by considering the needs of organisms for food, reproduction, shelter, and movement. Finding opportunities to re-introduce native plants and reserving space for animals is at the heart of this implementation, while also encouraging everyone to remember that nature is right here if you just stop to look and listen.

Harbor District has partnered with the Urban Ecology Center and Milwaukee Public Museum to learn more about the wildlife present. In 2019, we conducted surveys of birds, butterflies, dragonflies, bats, and mammals. We found over sixty different species!
A great way to help collect information on wildlife and plants in the Harbor District is to use the smartphone app iNaturalist. It connects you with experts who can identify the species you find and keeps a log of everything you have observed.
Even within our developed urban landscape, many different kinds of animals make a home or roam through. We can improve the Harbor District’s ability to support wildlife by considering their needs and incorporating native plants and trees, connections between green spaces, and softening armored shorelines.
The Harbor District Terrestrial Habitat Plan (2020) identifies current and potential habitat areas and a vision for improving the ability of the Harbor District to support a rich and diverse biotic community.
Milwaukee’s waterways, including the inner harbor at the heart of the Harbor District, bear the legacy of decades of pollution and contamination from past industries, dumping of sanitary waste, and other degradation. In fact, the EPA has characterized our estuary as one of the most “impaired” around the Great Lakes and designated it an “Area of Concern.” Harbor District, Inc. is active in efforts to clean up the contamination, repair ecological function, and make other improvements that will allow us to remove the Area of Concern designation.
Our Work Public Spaces

Kinnickinnic River Trail

Kinnickinnic River Trail

The KK River Trail (KKRT) is 2½ miles of off-street paved trails and on-street bike lanes following the river through a densely populated and industrial corridor. The trail links the Harbor District with Bay View and offers natural greenery and gritty industry.

The segment between Lincoln Avenue and Maple Street utilizes bike lanes on South 1st Street. The KKRT is a segment of the Bay View to Downtown route, which includes the raised bike lane on Bay Steet and bike lanes on South Kinnickinnic Ave.

The KKRT is part of the larger Kinnickinnic River corridor revitalization efforts underway that are improving the health and quality of life for city residents in general, and South Side residents in particular.