Sanctuary Woods, the last unprotected corner of the County Grounds, may finally get the protection it needs. In a surprise victory, both the community affairs committee and the Milwaukee County Board have passed advisory resolutions calling for preservation of the woods which is a beautiful stand of stately old trees.

The struggle isn’t over. The full Wauwatosa Common Council needs to rule on the resolutions, as does County Executive Chris Abele. Under Wisconsin’s Act 55, Mr. Abele has the power to sell county land not zoned as parkland, without county board approval. This further endangers the woods, which do not have protective zoning. Another not-insignificant piece of the puzzle is the ambitious Wauwatosa Life Sciences District Master Plan, which aims to open the center of the Grounds to a massive urban development containing hundreds of apartments, business and business outlets. This would devastate both the woods and nearby parkland.

The 235-acre County Grounds, near Wauwatosa’s southern edge, were a wild, untended, exhilaratingly open landscape until 1997, when the county put them up for sale. Since then, they've been the site of a battle between developers and green activists. The battle continues.