Alchemy At The Springs

The Springs, and I, have undergone a dramatic transformation over the last four years.  The invasive plants that once dominated the Scuppernong Springs Nature Preserve are akin to the “base metal” in an alchemical process, and the years of indoctrination in the religions of: Government, Catholicism and Money, had me in “base consciousness”.  The allegories of Alchemy are aptly suited to both contexts, as explained by Mark Passio in his latest seminar: “De-Mystifying The Occult“, which was expertly immortalized by my friends at Tragedy and Hope.

“ALCHEMY, literally “From Khem,” or “Out of Darkness” is an Occult Tradition taught through allegories.”

AlchemyOutOfDarknessIntoLightMark explains the essence of the esoteric truth that has been hidden, or occulted, from us:

“The Alchemist seeks to remove from his or her thoughts, emotions and actions their disorderly imperfections, or base characteristics, in order to bring them to their true state of Natural Order (Harmony with Natural Law) and to transmute them into “Alchemical Gold,” representing the purification of Body, Mind and Spirit.”

AlchemyBaseMetalsI feel deeply connected to Earth, Air, Water, Fire and, the Quintessence — Spirit, when I’m at the Scuppernong Springs.   Below, Mark begins to explain the allegories in Alchemy by revealing the esoteric interpretations of these fundamental elements.

AlchemyQuintessenceThere can be no start to the journey Out Of Darkness, Into Light, unless we honor the Sacred Feminine aspect of the Human Psyche in ourselves.AlchemyStartingSubstanceThis brief sketch can’t begin to do justice to Mark’s full De-Mystifying The Occult Presentation:

“The Philosopher’s Stone represents man himself at the beginning of the process of Self-Mastery.”

AlchemyPhilosophersStoneAllegorically, invasive species had “corrupted” The Springs, and a lack of concern on the part of the area’s first real estate developers for the consequences of their actions, put the hydrology of the Scuppernong River into disharmony.

AlchemyTheGreatWorkLast week, I stood on the north end of the loop trail filled with joy and awe as the late afternoon sunlight flooded the wetlands that were once canopied by tangled buckthorn, and contemplated my own journey to higher consciousness.AlchemyAlbedo“There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth: not going all the way, and not starting.”  Buddha

AlchemyRubedoWell, I’m going all the way — to Philadelphia that is — to meet Mark Passio, and a host of other truth seekers, at the Free Your Mind III Conference next weekend.  I plan to do some exploring in the Allegheny National Forest on the way there, and back, so it should be a fun vacation.

Even The Buckthorn Man can get too much of a good thing, and I need to take a break from cutting for at least a month or two.  The level of aggressive force required to attack a buckthorn thicket can’t be sustained year round.  I’ve been ripping it up lately and it’s time to put the chainsaw down.

Last Monday, March 30th, I stabbed and slashed many a buckthorn on the north side of the north end of the loop trail, continuing where I left off last time.  Here are four views, taken when I arrived, progressing from west to east.

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And the same perspectives after my violent assaults.

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All kidding aside, I’m almost looking forward to Garlic Mustard season!

For my last hurrah on Wednesday, I was headed a bit farther east down the north end of the loop trail, almost to signpost #13 and the junction with the Cutoff trail.  Along the way, at the scene of Monday’s attack, I noticed fresh stacks of buckthorn; Thanks Andy!

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At the worksite shown below, the presence and shape of the wetlands on the north side of the trail was much more evident, even though there was a relatively thin, although decidedly nasty, curtain of buckthorn still shrouding them.  The views below are: first, from near the trail, then at the buckthorn curtain looking left and right.

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I knew this was going to be my last time cutting for a while and tried not to get impatient with the machine.

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It was on the way back to my truck on that gorgeous, sunny afternoon, that it really began to sink in just how dramatically different this area of the Scuppernong Springs Nature Preserve looks now.

“The third and final phase of the Alchemical Great Work is Rubedo, or Reddening, the transmutation into Gold or Sulfur, representing Purified and Enlightened Consciousness, the Elemental Fire of the Philosopher’s Stone, symbolized by a red elixir, which represents the unification of Man (the limited) with the Divine (the unlimited).”  Mark Passio

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See you at The Springs!

It’s time to go for a walk

Pati and I met Dr. Jim Meeker, and his wife Joan Elias, when their neighbors, Greg Legault and Janette Christie (Legault), introduced us on the memorably challenging, private, cross country ski trails they had woven across their adjoining properties in Gurnee, Wisconsin.  We began renting Greg’s cozy cabin back in the early 90’s and I remember how starstruck Pati was when we met Jim, who already had a reputation for the manoomin, aka wild-rice, research he had done in the Bad River’s Kakagon Sloughs.

Jim and Greg at the South Point Banyan Tree house

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One of Jim’s best pictures of the Kakagon Sloughs

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Jim and Joan befriended us and we stayed in touch over the years.   Pati and I were truly saddened when we heard that Jim had “walked on” (see page 10 in this issue of Mazina’igan, or expand the article shown below.)

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I felt lucky and blessed to be in Gurnee on March 21 for the Memorial Service and Celebration of Jim’s Life (Pati had a business commitment in South Africa.)   Here are a couple of testimonials:

Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission is grateful for Dr. Meeker’s many contributions as a former staff member, scientist, teacher and mentor, but mostly as a very gentle, approachable human-being, filled with kindness and concern for all living creatures, but especially those plant-beings!

or, this from the Northland College Magazine (see page 8)

A professor of botany and natural resources, Jim shared his passion for the outdoors with students in the classroom, field and laboratory.  Jim fostered an inter-disciplinary approach to solving problems and used an experiential pedagogy before those approaches were being promoted within higher education.

Jim loved to share what he learned from nature: “It’s time to go for a walk!”

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One of Jim and Joan’s favorite places in the neighborhood: Potato Falls.
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That is the upper falls above cascading over multiple tiers, and below we see the lower falls.

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I got a real treat when I met a team of kayakers who had just run the upper falls!
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Check out Jonathan Sisley’s run down the upper falls, which begins around 1:00 into this video (thanks for sharing this Jonathan!)

Back at The Springs, there was buckthorn to cut and pile.  Andy Buchta stacked all the brush I laid down near the marl factory.

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I continued clearing the areas on both sides of the trail a couple hundred yards from the parking lot on Hwy ZZ, in what used to be, The Buckthorn Alley.

Tuesday I focused on the left side of the trail…

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…and cut many a buckthorn, though it’s hard to tell (below, same three views after.)

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On Thursday I continued cutting on both the right and left sides of the trail (below, before cutting, looking right, then left.)

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Below, the same three views after a 6 tanks of gas in the chain saw.

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Ben Johnson joined me after work to help rake out and rehabilitate the burn rings/scars from the last brush pile burning season.  The skunk cabbage is emerging.

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Believe it or not I was back at it on Saturday.  I’m trying to cut as much buckthorn as I can while it’s still dormant.  Andy is following close behind piling the brush.  Thanks Andy!

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Ben has been helping Anne Korman, Assistant Superintendent KMSF – Southern Unit, work on a plan to make the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail handicap accessible from the parking lot to the Hotel Spring and we had a date to review project.  The removal of the bridge by the Hotel Spring has opened up some new perspectives on how to route the trail.  Anne, and her boss Paul Sandgren, scoped out the situation and they are seriously considering building the new bridge over the river at the old sawmill site at signpost #12.  The new trail would follow the berm that formed the lower pond.

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This would be a beautiful spot to cross the river, with the added bonus that the east bank of the old bridge site, which has some very unique springs and flora, would be allowed to return to a natural state.  The DNR Water Regulations and Zoning engineers will have a say in the matter for sure.

While Ben moved boardwalks and cleared a trail along the berm, I continued cutting buckthorn on the left side of the trail, where I left off last time.

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That is how it looked before I got started.  Andy joined me and piled tons of buckthorn while I cut.

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I can’t wait to see how these wetlands respond in the absence of the buckthorn cover!

Ben and I had an excellent adventure exploring the northeast corner of the Scuppernong Springs Nature Preserve and then we took a tour.

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I’m excited to share that the Natural Resources Foundation has added the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail to their 2015 Field Trip Schedule.

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See you at The Springs!

p.s. Thanks to Mark Miner for monitoring bluebird houses!

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Thanks again for coming to visit me at The Springs!

The Sand Hill Cranes are back and I’m wondering if we have opened up enough new habitat for a second family to take up residence in the area.  It has been an exceptional winter season for cutting buckthorn and, thanks to the Kettle Moraine Natural History Association funding the efforts of Chris Mann and the Kettle Moraine Land Stewards, LLC, we have opened up many acres of wetlands.

Prime real estate is available for ducks as well and on April 2, Brian Glenzinski, former DNR Wildlife Biologist now working with Ducks Unlimited, will be joining me to tour The Spings. You might recall that Brian is the artist who carved The Acorn given out by the Oak Savanna Alliance for their Land Steward of the Year award.  We plan to list with Brian and he was very positive about building some new “upscale” duck homes in the neighborhood.

By the way, don’t miss the Oak Savanna Alliance workshop on May 16th.  Contact Eric Tarman-Ramcheck (TR Natural Enterprises, LLC) for details and be sure to let him know who you think deserves The Acorn this time.

The highlight of the last two weeks was the morning I spent with the Southern Kettle Moraine SNA Volunteers at the Bluff Creek West State Natural Area, just south and east of Whitewater, WI.

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For sanity’s sake though, I’m going to recollect the events of the past few weeks in chronological order.

After weeks of cramming to prepare my defense against the band of thieves and robbers known as government, for my “day in court”, I needed a day in the woods with my chainsaw to settle my nerves.  I returned to the marl factory on March 12th to attack the last stand of buckthorn on the wedge of land between the Tibby Line railroad tracks (signpost #2) and Marl Pit Bridge (signpost #4).  Below, the area as seen from signpost #4.

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Now, imagine you just stepped forward to the treeline shown above and looked right, straight ahead and left.

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We carved a hole in the middle of this buckthorn thicket and now was the time to finish the perimeter.  I had a fine day cutting and stopped early to help my friend Scott, and his buddy Mr. Schnuddles, collect some firewood.

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The view from signpost #4.

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I love to take a walk around The Springs at the end of a hard day’s work!

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Hmmmm, why is that monster parked in the DNR lot above the Hotel Springs?

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The bubbler at the Emerald Springs was especially active.

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Ben, dude, we need to build a bridge here man!

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On Saturday, March 14th I joined Zach Kastern, Ginny Coburn, Jared Urban, and a great crew of SNA volunteers clearing buckthorn from the transition zone between the calcareous fen and the oak uplands at Bluff Creek West.  The area we worked is at the base of the forested ridge shown in the upper right hand corner of the Bluff Creek Prescribed Burn plan shown below.

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Zach and Jared introduced the agenda for the day…

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… and we got after it!

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We made tremendous progress thanks to volunteers like this team from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Ecology Club.

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I got a chance to talk to Zach Kastern about the project.

I really enjoy these events and you might like it too!

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I spent the afternoon at The Springs finishing the last patch of buckthorn near the marl factory that I described above.

Ben, dude, we gotta fix this boardwalk!

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Sunset at the Sand Prairie.

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On St. Patrick’s day I found evidence that leprecons had visited the springs the night before!

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I had NO IDEA they could operate heavy equipment!

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Abe Wittenwyler, heavy equipment operator with the DNR, wasn’t looking for a pot of gold under the Hotel Spring bridge; he had come to excavate the riverbed to address the hydrology issues that Ben Heussner identified as a result of the elevation survey the DNR conducted last year.  I called Ben for an update, left a message, and got to work cutting buckthorn in the wetlands just down the trail — to the left — from the main parking lot on Hwy ZZ.  Here is how it looked before I got started.

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When I broke for lunch, I got Ben’s message and headed over to the Hotel Springs to meet him.  We walked along the river and reviewed the results of our efforts last year while Ben waited for Michelle Hase, DNR Water Regulations and Zoning Engineer, to review the project.

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Ben Heussner, Steve Gospodarek and Abe Wittenwyler.IMG_5318

Michelle recommended they distribute the “spoils” excavated from the river slightly differently than Ben had in mind.   They regraded the slope on the east side of the river, sowed a crop of annual grass, and then covered the area with straw.  Ben was genuinely proud of the bridge he built there back in 1992 and he’s looking forward to building the replacement this summer.  Me? I’m going to watch the river make a head cut.

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I returned to my work site and cut buckthorn, like a mischievious leprecon, for the rest of the day.

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And later visited my favorite haunts.

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Yesterday I returned to the area and continued to open up dramatic views into, and out of, the very interior of the Scuppernong River Nature Preserve.  I completed clearing the area shown below to totally open the views into the interior wetlands.

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Then I moved much closer to the parking lot to take on this wall of buckthorn.

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It was a flawless day and I cut down a hell of a lot of buckthorn.  Views into the interior wetlands are now revealed.

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And, looking back towards the parking lot, that wall of buckthorn is not so formidable anymore.

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I’m going to cut as much buckthorn as I can before the garlic mustard and other weeds start to emerge.

I got my first call of the season from DNR Burn Boss, Don Dane.  Let’s get it on!

See you at The Springs!

p.s. I did not prevail against the agents of the state in court on Friday the 13th.  It ain’t over yet!

Marsh Madness

I hope Spring is here to stay!

It’s been crazy here on the home front.  Pati, my African Queen, left for Cape Town today and I’ve been cramming for my “day in court” on Friday.  Like Ian Anderson sang: “Nothing Is Easy”.

I’ll tell you what looks easy though: two experts driving forestry mowers cutting huge swaths of buckthorn in a couple hours, that would have taken, even The Buckthorn Man,  weeks to do with a brush cutter.

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We had absolutely perfect conditions for DNR Facilities Repair Worker, Don Dane (that title doesn’t even begin to describe what Don does!) and Forestry/Wildlife Technician, Mike Spaight, to mow buckthorn at the Hartland Marsh.  This latest initiative at The Hartland Marsh, spearheaded by Kevin Thusius, property manager for the Ice Age Trail Alliance, manifested it’s first concrete result last week thanks to Paul Sandgren, Forest Superintendent Southern Unit – KMSF Lapham Peak & Glacial Drumlin Trail East, donating two full days of his best equipment and crew.  Thanks Paul!

Way back on February 27th I spent a few hours at The Marsh flagging a firebreak for the prescribed burning we hope to start in 2016.  How about this Oakitecture!

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Last week Thursday and Friday (March 5-6) , just before this blessed thaw, Don and Mike came out and hit the buckthorn hard.  They completed the firebreak, and some mowing on the uplands, on Thursday.

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And on Friday, they continued working the uplands all the way back to the hillside below the Gazebo on Cottownwood Avenue.

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I love those guys!

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Back on Monday, March 2, I was joined by Andy Buchta and Ben Johnson as we cleared glossy buckthorn from the tamarack grove on the northwest side of the Ottawa Lake Fen State Natural Area.

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Here is a panorama view taken from the middle of the fen.

Closing in around the tamaracks…

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… is a thicket of glossy buckthorn.

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It was a glorious day; our last of the season over there no doubt.

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Last Saturday, March 7, Andy and I continue clearing the buckthorn near the old marl factory wall.  Here is how it looked when I got there.

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I won’t get tired of saying it was a great day!

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We gutted the core of the last nasty buckthorn thicket on this wedge of land just west of the marl factory wall, and I think I can finish it off with one more day’s work.

I was pretty tuckered out when the sun went down.

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See you at The Springs!

Oakitecture

My favorite scene from The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies was when Thorin Oakenshield spotted Bilbo Baggins intently gazing at the Arkenstone.  Confronted by the deranged king of the dwarfs, who was desperate to posses the stone, the wily Bilbo produced an Acorn from his pocket instead, and he soothed the savage beast with tales of The Shire and his dream to plant the Acorn there.

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In Middle-Earth, they called those who were skilled at building with oak: Oakitects, and there were many fine examples of their Oakitecture in The Shire.  For me this mythical place is a touchstone in my dreams: a place of beauty and harmony, love and peace.

I can say with all honesty and sincerity that the closest place I’ve ever been to The Shire is The Holtz Farm.  It all started when Lindsay Knudsvig and I received the Land Steward of the Year award from the Oak Savanna Alliance back in 2012 in the form of an Acorn, beautifully carved by retired DNR Wildlife Biologist Brian Glenzinski.

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Years passed by and I never got the call saying it was time to return the Acorn so, finally, I contacted Barb Holtz, and asked if I could return the award to her for save-keeping until the next Oak Savanna Alliance workshop.  Now, I’m not making this up… literally a few days later I got an email from Eric Tarman-Ramcheck (TR Natural Enterprises, LLC) saying that he had just received a grant from Camp Timber-Lee to hold another OSA workshop, which is scheduled for May 16th.

I had heard a lot about the work Andy and Barb have done removing invasive plants from their 360 acre farm and I was very impressed with the presentation Barb made at the Oak Savanna Alliance Workshop back in 2012, so Pati and I were excited when Barb graciously agreed to give us a tour when we dropped off the Acorn.  The homestead is in the upper right, or northeast corner, of the map below.  Their oak savanna encompasses 140 acres on the west and south ends of their property.  That is Jericho Creek, a Class II Trout stream, flowing on the west edge of the property and they have a perfect, picnic, pond on the south end.

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Their homestead is so cozy, it would make Bilbo Baggins jealous.

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And the outbuildings?  They rival anything you would see in The Shire: neat as pins.

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Before we ventured out, Barb gave us an overview of their restoration efforts over the last 5 years, describing how they got started using funds from the grants they received from the DNR’s Landowner Incentive Program.

Barb got hands-on experience working for three months with famed Oakitect, Jason Dare (Dare Ecosystem Management), whom they hired to get them started on the right track.

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In contrast to the The Buckthorn Man‘s hyper-aggressive slash and poison technique, Barb has been very successful using a slower, calmer, basal bark spraying approach to killing buckthorn, which you can learn more about here.  You can’t argue with her results.

We survey the landscape below before starting off.

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Let’s take a look at the classic, pre-settlement, Oakitecture on The Holtz Farm.  We made our way west to the ridge overlooking Jericho Creek.

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And there we saw this ingenious contraption that they use to apply insecticide to their cattle as they lick mineral salts.  A reservoir of bug dope and oil soaks the sleeve that surrounds the lick and also permeates fabric enclosed by gnarly chain extending to the ground on the right side.  As the cattle push under the sleeve to get at the mineral lick, or rub their bodies against the chain, they get a light coating of sanity preserving insecticide.

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Barb and Andy’s daughter, Helen, explained that they have learned the value of allowing their sheep and cattle to graze in the oak savanna to help keep the invasive plants down.  Ben Johnson has been bugging me to do the same at The Springs, with goats, and I’m going to investigate that possibility.

This is the largest Oak Savanna remnant on private land in Southeastern Wisconsin.  Barb is quick to point out however, that at this point, the “structure” is there, but they still have work to do to re-establish the native plant community in the understory.  Check out this stunning Oakitecture!

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Here is the pond on the south side of their property.

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While we frolicked amongst the oaks, Andy was hard at work clearing brush.  Below, Helen works the pile.

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I’ve been a vegetarian for 3 years now, but when Barb said she had made a lamb stew for us, I had to make an exception.  It was delicious!

We hated to see the visit end, but we had to go and they had work to do as well.  Thanks again Andy, Barb and Helen for welcoming us into your home and little slice of heaven, we had a great time!  Stay tuned for more updates on the Oak Savanna Alliance Workshop scheduled for May 16th.  Who will win the Land Steward of the Year award this time?

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See you at The Springs!

Blind Traveler

I felt the first hint of Spring Sunshine on my face.  It’s coming!

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That splash of life and color arrived, just in time, in my in-box last week from Matthew J. George, a kindred soul, and so much more.

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“Fine Art Photographer, Creative Consultant,Tree Hugger, Sculptor, Storyteller, Witness, Explorer, Trailbreaker, Wanderer, Bohemian, Celt, Granola type”

Are you the “Blind Traveler” Matthew?

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The title you gave to the picture above is a beautiful metaphor to contemplate the difference between “an exoteric, literal meaning and an esoteric, inner teaching”.

Matthew, it was a pleasure to meet you on the Sand Prairie and I Thank You for sharing these beautiful pictures with us.

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The picture above, along with the first in the post, were taken at the Eagle Oak Opening State Natural Area.  Below, Matthew explores Bluff Creek East: “… It’s always a little different where I go and how I get there, but I bet you have an idea of how and why I do it.  I am looking for the “real” Kettle Moraine — the one that is hidden beneath the invasive brush — the Kettles you and I envision how they should look and feel. Thanks to your, and your team-mates efforts, the  Southern Kettle Moraine has become one of the most exemplary examples of what Wisconsin must have looked like a few hundred years back.”  _35A4643 _35A4696The Bluff Creek Springs.

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_35A1972Below, Matthew takes advantage of a new perspective revealed sans buckthorn at The Springs._35A2132 “I am an avid hunter of the Spring Ephemeral flowers that bloom in the areas  before the canopy fills with leaves, but there needs to be little or no invasive growth in order to find them. Now I can find them much easier. I am talking about Hepatica, Spring beauties, Jack in the Pulpit, etc. These Spring Ephemerals are inherently descriptive of the “real” Kettles.”

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Check out Matthew’s fine photography at: Matthew J George, Rain To River Photography!

Photographers treat the old marl factory wall at The Springs like a canvas (#3 on the Trail Brochure), and I think it’s going to become even more popular when all of the buckthorn is cleared away from it.

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I have been looking forward to clearing both sides of the trail between signpost #2, commemorating The Tibby Line, and the marl factory for a couple years now and I’m pleased to report that I finally got after it.  Andy Buchta, just back from his adventures Down Under, joined me to stoke the fires.

Tuesday morning was cold and windy.

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I lit the brush piles shown above and then started a few new piles amongst the buckthorn.  Thanks for all your hard, volunteer, labor Andy!

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Tuesday Afternoon.

We returned on Thursday and had another fantastic day.

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We finally broke clear through to the marl factory wall!

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I’ve been working so long into the short Winter days that it’s been a while since I took a walk around the loop as the sun set.

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Back at The Wall.

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See you at The Springs!

IATA Leads Hartland Marsh Restoration

I feel a lump welling up in my sore throat when I consider the latest turn of events in the saga of the Hartland Marsh restoration. My involvement began in earnest back in 2004 when I decided to clear the buckthorn from The Marsh, and I began spending most of my free time pursuing that goal.  I succeeded to a point: over the next 7 years I cut almost all of the mature buckthorn, burned hundreds of brush piles and followed up with brush cutting and foliar spraying, but I was not able to persuade the powers that be to implement a prescribed fire program — the only long-term solution to fighting invasive species — and I threw in the towel.

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The Hartland Marsh is home to some of the biggest, most beautiful oaks, in Southeast Wisconsin, and Pati and I returned to visit over the next 4 years whenever we could.

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In November of last year we were stunned not only by the site of the Chimney Swift Tower, but by the awakened spirit of CARE in the Village of Hartland that made it possible.  Perhaps is was just a coincidence, or maybe it was the Law of Attraction at work, but at the same time the tower was taking shape, Kevin Thusius, the property manager for the Ice Age Trail Alliance, decided it was time to commit some of his considerable leadership and organizational skills to resuscitating the Hartland Marsh/Bark River Preserve Project.

Kevin formed a committee including: Paul Sandgren, Forest Superintendent Southern Unit – KMSF Lapham Peak & Glacial Drumlin Trail East; Marlin Johnson, representing the Waukesha County Land Conservancy; Dave Cox and Mike Einweck, from the Village of Hartland; Duane Grimm representing Waukesha County; and fellow IATA members Brad Crary, Russ Evans and Ken Neitzke (I replaced Ken, wait, that’s not possible), and he enlisted Craig Annen with Integrated Restorations LLC to come up with a plan.  Per the assessment from Craig’s team:

Management action should be undertaken within the next five years to preserve this remnant and curtail any further degradation of its structural and compositional integrity and prevent local species loss; if the present trend is allowed to continue for more than five years, species invasions and successional changes will be increasingly difficult and expensive to reverse, and will require a longer time commitment to accomplish. Fortunately, previous efforts by IATA (Ice Age Trail Alliance) and WCLC (Waukesha County Land Conservation) volunteers have already placed this site on a trajectory toward recovery, and capitalizing on these efforts can be accomplished within a three year time period with a routine level of management intensity. The only foreseeable challenge this site poses is its urban location and obtaining permission and public acceptance of the use of prescribed fire as a management tool.

The plan prioritizes the uplands (see area enclosed in yellow and the John Muir Lookout Island, circled in magenta below.)

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Money is the limiting factor, so if you know any “angels” who are willing to come forward and help us save the Oaks of the Hartland Marsh, please ask them to contact Kevin (kevin@iceagetrail.org)!  With the funds Kevin has been able to hustle so far, we plan to hire Craig’s team to begin putting the plan into action by attacking the invasive species on the 37 acres of uplands.  Paul Sandgren has generously donated two days service from DNR Trail Boss Don Dane and Forestry Technician Mike Spaight to help us cut fire breaks and begin mowing the buckthorn, box elder and other woody invasives.

We really appreciate that Lake Country Now is helping us tell our story! Thanks for that post Steve, and for convincing your editors to send freelance journalist Rebecca Seymour out to meet us this past Wednesday as we gathered at The Marsh to review the plan and flag the areas where Don and Mike should work.  The next few shots are courtesy of Rebecca.

(From left to right: The Buckthorn Man, Craig Annen, Mike Einweck, Kevin Thusius and Marlin Johnson)

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Our nemesis: Mr. Buckthorn.

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Keep an eye on Lake Country Now (2/24 and 3/10) for Rebecca’s next stories about The Marsh.

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After our meeting on Wednesday, I drove down to Forest Headquarters to review the plan with Don Dane.  I had heard a little about the cuts to the DNR that Governor Walker has planned for the 2015-2017 budget, which begins in July, and Don filled me in with the following:

I’m a Voluntaryist, and Anarchist, so I’m not going to ask you to beg the legislature or governor to spend the money they take from us via threat and coercion (hyperbole? pay or you go to jail!) differently.  No, I’m asking you to roll up your sleeves, volunteer, and get to work.  You take responsibility for the land; don’t rely on government.

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It’s been darn cold and I’ve been under the weather a bit so I only got out to The Springs one day this week on Monday.  I continued cutting and burning along the stretch of trail between signpost #2 and Marl Factory.  I’m going to focus on finishing this area while it is frozen.  Here is how it looked when I got there.

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I had a relaxing day and made modest progress.

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If you are interested in prescribed burns, aka wildland fires, and want an inside look from the DNR’s perspective, check out the videos from their 2015 Prescribed Fire In-Service.   I found the Cranberry Fire — Lessons Learned and the Prescribed Burn Scenario, which features the 2014 Bluff Creek East Burn, very interesting.

Last but not least, don’t forget to visit my Wisconsin Wetlands Association “Big Share” campaign and make a donation.   Please note, the totals for contributors and dollars are not updated and still show zeroes; that’s just the way it is.

See you at The Springs!