The Buckthorn Man Unocculted

Ask me anything.

I’ve got nothing to hide.

Ok Buckthorn Man.  Are you a misanthrope?

Hmmm, that’s a tough question; better define our terms first.  Per wikipedia:

Molière‘s character Alceste in Le Misanthrope (1666) states:

My hate is general, I detest all men;
Some because they are wicked and do evil,
Others because they tolerate the wicked,
Refusing them the active vigorous scorn
Which vice should stimulate in virtuous minds.

Ok, I confess: whether it be from honesty or hubris, I don’t know, it’s true, I do feel that way sometimes.  I barely saw a soul last week working at The Springs, and that was fine by me.

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To occult something is simply to hide it from view.  As Mark Passio explained in his Natural Law Seminar, people occult knowledge to create or preserve a power differential they use to their advantage.  Take the idea of satanism; what is the first thing it conjures up?  Mark was a priest in the church of satan, and when I heard him explain their 4 basic tenets, which he knew first-hand, it opened my eyes.

  1. Survival: self-preservation is the top priority
  2. Moral relativism: if it’s good for me, it’s good, if it’s bad for, me it’s bad
  3. Social Darwinism: it is right and desirable for an elite few to dominate the other 99.9999% of humanity
  4. Eugenics: who is allowed to procreate, and at what rate, must be controlled

That is satanism unocculted.

At the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail, it is U.S. Highway 67 that has been unocculted.   The removal of huge colonies of black locust trees from both the north and south ends of the preserve, along with the buckthorn cutting, have exposed the sights and sounds of the highway to major portions of the trail.  I won’t occult the truth: this is very obnoxious, especially in winter, and worst of all, at night.  The bright, rolling headlights, intermittently blocked by trees, evoke the feeling of prison bars and clandestine interrogations; not very relaxing or natural.  And on Saturday night, it was one car after another… I don’t like it one bit.  We have to get some native shrubs planted and recreate a healthy understory.

Despite my deeper appreciation for those who prefer a wall of buckthorn to highway traffic, I continued to work the brush cutter last week at The Springs.  Tuesday was cold and I had to rest my water bottle in the relatively warm river to keep it from freezing solid.

Here is how it looked before I started…

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… and after

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It’s subtle.

While on my evening stroll, I got a call from my old friend, Randy Schilling, who came out to The Springs 2 years ago to harvest some oak, hickory and cherry logs.  He had some presents for me: vases and bowls turned with care into art on his wood lathe.

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Thanks Randy.  I love you man!

Friday was perfect and I worked on the south side of the river just upstream from the gaging station bridge.

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Again, before …

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… and after.

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I think this is the best use of my time now: solidify the gains that have been made in the last few years and prepare for the burn next spring.

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Yesterday I did some work on the south end of trail focusing on black locust.

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I took a walk as night fell …

See you at The Springs!

Natural Law

It was a dam cold winter morning at the Hartland Marsh when I carelessly let my hands get bitten by frost.  Like gravity, it’s a law of nature: if you don’t understand and protect yourself, you’re going to get hurt.  Ever since then my hands are the first to tell me Winter has arrived.

The polarity between hot and cold is really only a matter of degree i.e., the amount of vibratory energy that is present.  And the rhythm of the seasons is just Nature’s Way.  We have no trouble understanding the physical laws of nature but how about the spiritual laws of nature?  What are they?

I’ve recommended Mark Passio’s Natural Law Seminar before on this blog and it bears repeating.  The degree to which we, collectively, live our lives in adherence with natural law, will determine the kind of world we create: the reality that manifests around us.

I’ll give you a quick, thumb-nail sketch, using a few slides from Mark’s presentation to wet your appetite.

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What are the principles, or first things, underlying natural law?

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And what binds them together?

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But you already know this!

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What are the consequences of following natural law or ignoring it?

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At it’s heart, natural law teaches us the difference between right and wrong. 141

What distinguishes natural law from mans law?

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How can we get what we say we want from life?

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You don’t have to look far to see which way we are heading… but, we can change that by seeking and speaking the truth.

I like to think I’m combining the laws of nature (physical) with natural law (spiritual) by voluntarily giving my time and attention, my spiritual currency, working to reveal the beauty of God’s creation.  For my reward, I get to keep my sanity in a world gone mad.

This past week I continued prepping The Springs for the prescribed burn that the DNR plans to execute next spring.  I’m focusing on the sand prairie area now cutting buckthorn, cherry, red oak, black locust and honeysuckle seedlings and resprouts.

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I’m taking my time and poisoning as many cut stumps as I can find after each tank of gas burned in my Stihl FS-90 brush cutter.  One reason the buckthorn is coming back so strongly here is that I took the shortcut of not poisoning the stumps the first time I brush cut here back in 2012.  For every stump I didn’t poison, a half-dozen new shoots appeared.

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I quit early to spend time at The Springs with my dear friend Ed Brown, who was in town to attend the 2014 Urban and Small Farms Conference hosted by Growing Power.

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Hey Ed, thanks for inviting Pati and I to take a tour of Growing Power’s headquarters here in Milwaukee with you!

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Pati joined me for the sunset at Ottawa Lake.

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Last Wednesday, I picked up where I left off on the sand prairie.  It was another cold day swinging the brush cutter.

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I’d really like to get all the brush laid down in the areas that I have previously cut before the snow falls, so I hit the trail again on Friday.  Here are a couple of views Friday morning.

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And the same two perspectives in the afternoon.  Can you tell the brush was cut?IMG_4418 IMG_4419

I worked until the sun went down.

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Finally, to cap off the week, I joined Ginny Coburn, Zach Kastern, Jared Urban and a great group of State Natural Areas volunteers, including students from the UW Whitewater Ecology Club, at the Whitewater Oak Opening, one of the 16 sites that comprise the Clifford F. Messinger Dry Prairie and Savanna Preserves.

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Ginny gives an overview.

That was a nasty site!

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Zach shows how to poison a stump.

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Jared, Ginny and Zach organized the teams and we got after it.

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That’s Mike with the chainsaw below.

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Eric swinging his saw.

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Steve lives next store, literally, and he is committed to restoring the oak savanna on his property and the surrounding state owned land.

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I was amazed at how much we accomplished before high noon!

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Let there be unity between your thoughts, emotions and actions.

See you at The Springs!

Swift Action In Hartland

Pati and I were dumbfounded as we walked up the trail to the Cottonwood Gazebo at The Hartland Marsh.  What was that monolithic tower poking through the treetops at the top of the hill?  I pulled my coat across my face, cowering like quasimodo behind Pati, and, turning slightly to avoid looking directly at it, I pointed with my right hand asking with trembling voice: “what is it?”

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I’ve walked up that trail a thousand times and it was absolutely jarring to see a brick tower at the trailhead.

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It all started when Tikvah Schlissel, Hanna Kimmel and their friends from the Hartland School of Community Learning heard about the near threatened Chimney Swift

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… and the fact that one of their favorite resting spots in the Village of Hartland was scheduled for destruction.  Thousands of lives were at stake!  Ramsey Schlissel does a brilliant job telling the story.

The whole Village of Hartland came together spurred by the passionate environmentalism of their vibrantly conscious youth.  Wow!  They still need some help paying for the new Chimney Swift Tower.  Visit them on Facebook or at SaveTheSwifts and make a contribution.

Can a movement in the village to Save The Oaks Of The Hartland Marsh be far behind?  The buckthorn has returned, thick as thieves, since I abandoned my valiant (or was it vain?) effort to save the oaks there 3 ½ years ago.

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One of the reasons I “gave up” at the Hartland Marsh was the resistance to the use of fire as a tool to restore the landscape and control the buckthorn seedlings and resprouts.  I was lucky they let me finish burning the hundreds of brush piles I left there.  At the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail, on the other hand, I have the total support of the DNR, and, in fact, they are hoping to burn The Springs in 2015.  To that end, I continue to focus on prepping the land for the next burn.

On Monday, November 3rd, I used a brush cutter to “mow” the woods on the northeast side of the loop trail.  The DNR has never been able to get a hot ground fire to run through this area.  Now, with the removal of the black locust and my brush clearing, we’re hoping for better results in 2015.

I recently replaced the bar oil pump, clutch and muffler on my Stihl 361 Pro chainsaw and I was eager to see how it performed. On Wednesday I returned to the cut-off trail to finish cutting a little patch of buckthorn on the east side of a wetland that sits between the cut-off trail and north loop trail.  Then I moved 100 yards to the east to cut buckthorn on the east side of another wetland near an old building foundation.

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And after cutting… the same three perspectives shown above.

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Pati joined me and we walked over to the north loop trail to check out the view from that perspective and to see the newly minted brush piles that Andy Buchta made.  Thanks Andy!

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Here is a view of the work area as seen from a bit further east on the cut-off trail.

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And video tour of the area.

My chainsaw ran perfectly and on Friday I was back at it again this time on the south end of the Scuppernong Springs Nature Preserve.  There was a patch of buckthorn on a little knoll between the Scuppernong Spring and Hwy 67.

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I had to tie a rope around some of the buckthorn to pull them pack away from the road as I cut them.

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Then I moved over the west a few yards to tackle a nasty thicket of buckthorn mixed with black oak slash.

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Like Wednesday, it was a sunny warm morning that turned cloudy and chilly as the day progressed.  Here are the same three views above at the end of the day.

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I caught the sunset at Ottawa Lake.

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See you at The Springs!

Tim Kant Captures The Springs

“I am just an amateur photographer; I enjoy a walk or hike in the city or country with camera in hand.”  Tim Kant

I met Tim on October 11th, the first frosty morn of the season, and encouraged him to share his images of The Springs here.  Regarding his pics displayed below, he modestly advised: “There is nothing in this dropbox folder that is worthy of the National Geographic.”  Well, maybe they are not as cool as your wolf pictures Tim, but I like them.  Click the photos to view them full-size.

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View from the marl pit bridge.

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During his recent visit to The Springs Ben Heussner explained that one of these huge culverts came from the gaging station bridge location.  He recounted the many times they had to remove beaver dams from that site before the culvert was pulled out.  That solved a mystery for me regarding how the cut-off trail got flooded out.  I thought the beaver dam was at the marl pit bridge and I couldn’t figure out how a pond in that area could have affected the trail.  Now I know; the beaver pond was upstream of the gaging station bridge and that is why the cut-off trail got flooded.

Ok, that was the first version.  Ron Kurowski provided this explanation via email:

Read your latest news from the springs and wanted to clear up where those large culverts (marl ovens) were originally located. They were at the marl bridge and beaver would make their dams inside them and it would be quite a problem to take them out, so that is why they were removed. The beaver would make their dams on either side of the other (water guage)  bridge and create a huge flowage on the east side of the bridge. It killed a lot of buckthorn that way but not enough. It flooded the main trail and the short cut.

I asked Ron for more info about the “marl ovens”.

The “culverts” were right where the marl bridge is today and were back to back in line with the flow of the river.  I believe that these “culverts” were the massive boilers for the large kiln that dried out the marl to turn into quick lime.  They also could have been part of the large kiln!! They were originally near the  concrete marl plant and probably someone who owned the property before the DNR bought it, moved them into the stream for a culvert. It sure would be interesting if there were more photographs of the marl plant, as to how it looked but we only have one rare photograph of the plant.

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Classic perspectives from the gaging station bridge.

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Wanderings.

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The Scuppernong Spring.

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Very nice!  Thanks for sharing Tim.

I had a mellow week working at The Springs cutting brush along the east end of the cut-off trail and along the northeast perimeter of the loop trail in preparation for the burn next spring.

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See you at The Springs!

The Ottawa Lake Springs

I hope you enjoyed the marvelous stretch of blessed Fall weather we recently experienced here in Southeastern Wisconsin as much as I did.

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I chose to camp in late October at Ottawa Lake site #335, aka My Shangri-la, back in January because I wanted to enjoy the 5th annual Halloween Bash, and the event turned out to be magical indeed.

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The campground was almost full Saturday evening for the climax of the festivities and a crescent moon hung over the lake.  As Pati and I strolled amongst the fantasmicgorically decorated campsites, we were occasionally startled by ghoulish outbursts piercing the sweetly scented campfire smoke.

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The pumpkin carving was exquisite again this year.

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It was pure good fun, except for the premature report of the demise of the Buckthorn man, which I found very disconcerting.

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Contrary to the epitaph above, I had a super productive week working on the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail and the Ottawa Lake Fen SNA.  I setup camp on Monday October 20th…

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… then proceeded with my empty truck to the gravel pile Anne Korman (Assistant Superintendent of the Kettle Moraine State Forest — Southern Unit) had directed us to.

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There were a few spots on the trail that tended to puddle and I filled them with stone.

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Back at camp I enjoyed a dinner of fresh vegetables, stir-fried with the Buckthorn Man’s secret recipe curry brown lentils and wild rice.

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On Tuesday and Wednesday I began clearing buckthorn and honeysuckle on the south side of a channel that drains a spring that emerges from a ditch just below Hwy 67.

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Here is the view before I got started standing on the shoulder of Hwy 67 and looking towards Ottawa Lake.

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People I meet on the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail tell me that they used to be able to see Ottawa Lake from the highway.  Now, the only way you could possibly do that is via the drainage shown above.  I was determined to reopen this view as a tease to draw people into exploring this beautiful area.  At the end of the day on Wednesday, I followed the drainage up expecting to see the water emerging from a culvert that drains wetlands on the northeast side of Hwy 67.  Instead, the culvert was dry and I found the source was a bubbling spring on the west side of the highway.

On Thursday I took a day off, sort of, sharpening my chains in camp and later meeting Ben Johnson at the Hotel Springs to work on positioning a boardwalk that we had relocated to the cut-off trail.  The rain didn’t dampen our spirits one bit!  It was a pleasure to have Ben over to the campsite for dinner afterwards and we dried our butts off by the fire.

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Lindsay Knudsvig joined me on Friday and we began clearing the north side of the channel that flows from the spring I “discovered” on Wednesday.  Ottawa Lake is fed by many springs and I think this one may be the most substantial.  Here are a couple views after we finished for the day.

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There is a massive, pre-settlement, white oak near the spring’s channel.

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Unfortunately, Lindsay could not stay for dinner, but Pati came out and we enjoyed the sunset and campfire.

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There is an embankment on the north side of the channel that extends out to where the water joins the pond that is at the center of the Ottawa Lake Fen.  There are excellent views south, west and north from this vantage point.

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On Saturday I started to clear the buckthorn from both sides of this embankment.  Here is what it looked like before I got started (looking left, then right).

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I finished the left side on Saturday and began clearing the debris from the channel with the intention of getting a current flowing all the way to the union with the fen pond.  That evening Pati returned to stay a couple nights with me and it was sweet.

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On Sunday morning we took a nice walk around the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail waiting for the day to warm up and then we headed to where the Scuppernong River passes under Hwy Z to do our last river monitoring of the year.  You can view the data we collected in 2014 at the Water Action Volunteers site by searching by site (Scuppernong River at Count Hwy Z) and specifying the date range of April thru November and the “select all parameters” button.

In the last post I made the bold and unsubstantiated assertion that: “We do not see the diversity of macroinvertebrates typically found on stoney, sandy, bottom riverbeds…”, in the muck and marl filled stretches of the headwaters of the Scuppernong River.  So, Pati and I repeated the same biotic index study we did at Hwy Z as part of our river monitoring, at four locations in the Scuppernong River headwaters where the DNR is planning to remove material to enable the river to headcut.  We investigated the areas just upstream from where the changes will be made.  Here is what we found (refer to this link to see pictures of the Macroinvertebrates):

Where the Scuppernong River crosses Hwy Z, which has a stoney and sandy riverbed:

  • Aquatic Sow Bug
  • Crawfish
  • Amphipod or Scud
  • Dameslfly larva
  • Giant Water Bug
  • Back Swimmer
  • Water Boatman
  • Riffle Beetle Larva
  • Pouch Snail
  • Caddisfly Larva

Now, at the four sites in the headwaters.  First at the Old Mill site:

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  • Aquatic Sow Bug
  • Crawling Water Beetle
  • Amphipod or Scud
  • Dameslfly larva
  • Predaceous Diving Beetle
  • Back Swimmer
  • Riffle Beetle Larva
  • Orb Snail
  • Caddisfly Larva

At the Hotel Spring Bridge site:

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  • Aquatic Sow Bug
  • Fishing Spider
  • Amphipod or Scud
  • Nematode of Threadworm
  • Leech
  • Pouch Snail
  • Riffle Beetle Larva
  • Orb Snail
  • Caddisfly Larva

At the bridge to the Hidden Spring site:

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  • Aquatic Sow Bug
  • Amphipod or Scud
  • Nematode of Threadworm
  • Whirligig Beetle
  • Pouch Snail
  • Predaceous Diving Beetle
  • Dobsonfly Larva
  • Caddisfly Larva

And finally, at the first bridge to the Hillside Springs:

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  • Aquatic Sow Bug
  • Amphipod or Scud
  • Riffle Beetle
  • Riffle Beetle Larva
  • Dobsonfly Larva
  • Caddisfly Larva
  • Backswimmer
  • Water Strider

I think it is fair to say that I was wrong to conclude that there was not the same diversity of macroinvertebrates in the headwaters area, where the riverbed is generally full of muck and marl, as further downstream, like at Hwy Z, where the riverbed is stoney and sandy.  I did have to literally drag the net through the muck and marl in the headwaters to get the samples so it may be the case the the macroinvertebrates there are not as accessible to the trout as they are in the areas downstream that are stoney and sandy.  In any case, we will continue to collect data in the headwaters at the sites listed above next spring, before any changes are made to remove material from the former embankments, and continue to collect data after the changes are made.

Sunday evening we finished dinner early and raced over to the Indian Campgrounds to catch the sunset.

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And finally, this past Monday, I finished clearing the buckthorn along both sides of the embankment that follows the Ottawa Lake Spring channel to its entrance to the fen pond.

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One Last view from the highway.

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I also pulled out a lot more junk from the spring channel including: a car tire, one 5 gallon bucket, three 1 gallon plastic plant containers, bottles, cans, logs, planks and deck boards.  Walk with me as I follow the channel from the fen up to its source at the spring.  There is a bit of drama halfway through when I get stuck in muck up to my chest and let a few choice words fly.

Last but not least, I captured these images of the brush piles that Andy Buchta made on the east side of Ottawa Lake in the area that I cleared last month when I camped at My Shangri-La.  Thanks Andy!

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See you at The Springs!

The Heart Of The Scuppernong

The Ho Chunk called it the Scuppernong, or “sweet-scented land”.  The Scuppernong River watershed, contains the largest mesic prairie east of the Mississippi.  Its primary sources are The Springs, which you can tour via the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail.

Think of The Springs as the heart pumping life giving water into the main artery of the Scuppernong River.  When I began working at The Springs, 3 ½ years ago, I found the heart clogged with watercress, silt, marl and muck.

How do we measure the health of the heart of a river?  The Wisconsin DNR does a fish count, on the stretch of the river between the gaging station bridge and the hotel springs, every year as a way to measure water quality.  The counts have been going down since I began intervening by pulling out watercress, opening up the channels from the individual springs to the river, and stirring up and releasing muck and marl downstream.

Are my actions, metaphorically speaking, my heart surgeries, diminishing the quality of the water?  Yes, if you go by the fish counts alone and you assume that my actions are the main causative factor for the decline.  But, consider the river, choked with watercress, as a weight lifter dependent on steroids.  The watercress dominated habitat provided shelter and macroinvertebrates the trout depend on, thus artificially boosting the fish counts.  And, just like a weight lifter depends on steroids to maximize his power while ignoring the long term effects, the high fish counts at the Scuppernong River were dependent on an invasive plant dominating the river, to the long-term detriment of the heart.

What’s wrong with a river choked with watercress and filled with muck like a lake bottom?  After all, the fish counts were high and we used to see trout in the river all the time.

It isn’t natural and it isn’t healthy long-term for the river watershed.  The remnants of the entrepreneurial spirit of the European settlers on the river are four separate embankments that span the valley of the headwaters.  Upstream of these four humps, muck and marl have backed up completely changing the hydrology.  We do not see the diversity of macroinvertebrates typically found on stoney, sandy, bottom riverbeds.  Now, I’m asserting that without data to back it up.  I’m simply assuming that a muck and marl riverbed will not have the same diversity of species as a stoney, sandy riverbed.  To address this lack of data, I plan to begin collecting biotic index data at various points in the headwaters so that we can compare it to after the four “humps” are removed, which will happen next Spring.

The width of the river in the majority of the headwaters above the hotel springs is 2 or 3 times normal and it resembles more a lake bottom than a riverbed.  This widened and shallow system provides an ideal water source for the invasive cattails and phragmites that dominate the headwaters valley.  Their root systems are hollow tubes ½ to ¾ inch in diameter, strong as pvc but much more flexible, that tap into the river  The key to addressing this problem is, as Tracy Hames would say: “Fix the water“.   Removing the humps will generate a headcut, which will cause the stream channel to narrow increasing its velocity and exposing a stoney, sandy bed.  This will make it much easier to intercept the root systems of the cattails and phragmites and turn off the spigots that are feeding them.  And keeping the watercress to a reasonable amount, so it does not impede the river like a vegetative dam, will help keep the water cold as it rushes downstream.

♦♦♦

I had a dramatic, three-day, run at The Springs this past Wednesday – Friday swinging my chainsaw with boundless energy.  I’ve been chomp’in at the bit for 6 months to take down the buckthorn in many key areas, where a small amount of work can yield dramatic new vistas, and I tackled the areas marked in blue below this past week.

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On Wednesday I worked near the boardwalk that Ben Johnson and I recently raised on the east end of the Buckthorn Alley.  Here are views taken beforehand looking south, then west, then east.

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And afterwards, the same perspectives.

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I’ll take you on a video stroll along the trail later below.

On Thursday, I was joined in the morning by a new volunteer named Dave Kieffer, who took a vacation from his project management role to help me out.  Dave worked the brush cutter and I swung the chainsaw in the area marked in blue above that is closest to the cut-off trail.

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We had a date in the afternoon with Ben Johnson and another new volunteer, Ryan Wendelberger (a senior at Brookfield Central High School), to relocate two boardwalks so we shifted gears around 2:00pm.  Here is how it looked when we finished.

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Dave and I staged some logs to use as pedestals for the newly relocated boardwalks and then we met Ben and Ryan at the DNR parking area above the Hotel Springs, where we planned to take the boardwalk sections.  Amazingly, Ben, Dave and Ryan were able to transport the boardwalk sections using Ben’s hand dolly.  We were soon busy positioning one of the sections as a bridge on the north loop trail, where water is clearly attempting to cross the existing causeway and join the outflow of a spring just south of the trail.

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Ben explains what we are doing.

Everyone pitched in for a great team effort!

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The light was fading as we nailed the last boardwalk pieces and applied the final touches.  Thanks again to Ben, Dave and Ryan for your outstanding contibution!

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Here it is in the daylight.

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Friday I was still raring to go.

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I wanted to cut in an area on the northeast edge of the loop trail (shown in blue on the map above) to connect the opening along the trail and former cranberry bog to the opening made by Steve Tabat and his crew as they harvest black locust trees.

View from the trail.

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The views looking right , center and left from where I staged my gear.IMG_4209 IMG_4210 IMG_4211

It was surprisingly warm and I had to strip off my long johns after the first tankful of gas.  I put a new spark plug in the machine because it was running rough the day before and that did the trick!  The views below are right-center and left as compared to those above.

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Come along with me as I stroll down the north loop trail past the areas that were cut.

Afterwards, I took a blissful walk along the river towards the Scuppernong Spring.

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The sunset was dramatic!

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See you at The Springs!

p.s. I’ll be camping all next week at My Shangri-La.  Do drop in and surprise me.

Kettle Moraine Land Stewards Coming To The Springs!

In what could be a landmark in the history of the restoration of the Scuppernong Springs Nature Preserve, the Kettle Moraine Natural History Association is funding Chris Mann and the Kettle Moraine Land Stewards to come and work at The Springs.  Chris graduated with a Biology degree from the University of Stevens Point in 2007 and started the Kettle Moraine Land Stewards in 2008.  Since then, he has left his mark on the land in the service of the: Wisconsin DNR, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Friends of Lapham Peak, Kettle Moraine Land Trust, Muskego Lakes Conservancy, and many private land owners. Chris can do it all from designing an ecologically sound restoration, to clearing invasive species, executing prescribed burns and replenishing the native flora.

It’s always a pleasure to see Ron Kurowski at The Springs because he loves the place so much.  Time is spiritual currency and last Friday afternoon Ron paid me a visit and spent his time celebrating the work we have accomplished at The Springs, and imagining what we could do with more help.  The next thing I know, I’m walking on the Sand Prairie with Chris Mann discussing the work we want him to do.  It is going to be a great partnership and I’m looking forward to learning a lot from Chris.

I had a fantastic, three day run, at The Springs this past week and the weather could not have been any sweeter.  My immediate goal is to cut the buckthorn, and other woody brush, that has sprung up in all of the areas of the Scuppernong Springs Nature Preserve in which we have done major buckthorn clearing operations.  The cut brush and stems should be nicely dried by the time the DNR does their next prescribed burn, hopefully in the Spring of 2015.  On Thursday I continued where I left off last time on the cut-off trail.  Here is what it looked like before I got started (the first picture is looking west at the ruins of an old building foundation, and the second is looking southeast towards the Scuppernong River.)

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I am very careful to avoid cutting oak seedlings and, native flowers and shrubs.

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Here are the same two perspectives shown above after 8 tankfuls of gas in the brush cutter.

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When I arrived on the sand prairie to watch the sunset, there were two women, obviously having a deep conversation, sitting on the bench that Ben built.  I respected their privacy and caught the last rays from the Marl Pit Bridge.

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Friday was another gorgeous, Fall, day and I strapped on my brush cutter to work along the Buckthorn Alley trail, just north of where I had been the day before.

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I find this work very relaxing and conducive to having thoughts; one of which struck me out of the blue was the relationship between the Greek Triviumtrivium_shield

… and the Shield of the Trinity.

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I first heard about this three years ago from Richard Grove, who asked the famous educator (at 26:00 in), John Taylor Gatto, about it at the start of the outstanding, 5 hour, interview he recorded with him.  For some reason, the power and implications of the idea — that the Christian Trinity was a metaphor for the Greek Trivium — took that long to sink in.

Jesus, The Son, is Grammar.  He is knowledge: who, what where, when.  He is the way, the truth and the light.  The only way to know The Father, is through The Son i.e., the only way to come to understand something is through knowledge. We gain knowledge via our five senses; only if we have eyes to see and ears to hear that is.

The Father understands all: God only knows why.  There are no contradictions between The Father and The Son just as there are no contradictions allowed when you apply logic to grammar.

Who doesn’t want to be filled with the wisdom of The Holy Spirit and speak in tongues persuading all who hear?  Don’t worry if you’re not a skilled rhetorician; The Holy Spirit knows how.

Comparing the two shields above:

  • Grammar (knowledge) is/est Consciousness: The Son (knowledge) is God
  • Logic (understanding) is/est Consciousness: The Father (understanding) is God
  • Rhetoric (wisdom) is/est Consciousness: The Holy Spirit (wisdom) is God

Truth is at the heart of consciousness.  Truth is what has actually occurred: the reality that is manifested moment by moment.  Yes, I see now: Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric united in truth is consciousness, and The Son, The Father and The Holy Spirit united are God.  Hmmmm… Richard Grove’s first question to John Taylor Gatto was:  “Is a metaphor a lie, or is it something else?”

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Whoa there Buckthorn Man!  You better stick to your brush cutting.

Yeah… where was I?

The day flew by…

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… and soon I was joined by a beaming Ron Kurowski.  Thanks for your support and encouragement Ron!

Ottawa Lake sunset.

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The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.  I was brush cutting under the canopy just west of signpost #13 on Saturday and I had that special feeling I love of knowing I was in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing.

Before doing my thing…

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After doing my thing.

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There are wonderful, late afternoon, views to the west from the cut-off trail.  Check out the north side of the Scuppernong River under a canopy of massive white oaks on this trail that was once lost, but now is found.

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Sand Prairie sunset.

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See you at The Springs!