A lot of ingredients go into a successful land restoration recipe and you’ll always find persistence as the base stock. Our chef Saturday, February 15, at the Kettle Moraine Oak Opening SNA chilly bowl, was noted Oakologist and Wisconsin DNR Conservation Biologist, Jared Urban.
Restoring and preserving oak savannahs and woodlands is an important goal of the DNR’s Endangered Resources Program (newly christened as the Natural Heritage Conservation Bureau), and Jared has been focusing on organizing and empowering volunteers to accomplish this.
Our chef sets the table.
Jared likes to spice up workdays with unique mixes of people, locations and activities and Saturday’s stew pot included burning brush piles and cutting and poisoning buckthorn, honeysuckle and other brush on the sunny south side of an oak covered moraine just northeast of the intersection of Bluff Road and County Hwy H. Enthusiastic volunteers from the Ecology Club, and S.A.G.E. (Students Allied for a Green Earth) at UW Whitewater, the Kettle Moraine Land Trust, and others, provided the meat and potatoes for the savory stew but Jared’s “secret ingredient” was Gary Birch.
Gary has dedicated his professional career (first with the Wisconsin DNR and currently with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation) and a lot of his personal time to nurturing, protecting and researching the flora and fauna in Wisconsin. Here is a small sample of Gary’s diverse activities:
- Recipient of the 2002 Wisconsin DNR Volunteer Of The Year Award (along with The Buckthorn Man).
- Leading field trips with the Natural Resources Foundation
- Working with The Prairie Enthusiasts on the land management committee for the Smith-Reiner Drumlin Prairie SNA
- Representing the WisDOT as a recipient of the The Transportation and Utility Rights-of-Way Best Management Practices Advisory Committee Volunteer Group Award.
- Researching the Karner Blue Butterfly for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from his perspective as a Wisconsin Department of Transportation Biologist/Ecologist.
- Leading the WisDOT effort to implement the NR40 state administrative rule (see group award above)
Gary’s life’s work epitomizes persistence, which is the key to any “monumental effort”. His latest tip is to check out the Pleasant Valley Conservancy SNA, which I plan to do soon! Thanks for everything you do Gary!
Meanwhile, back at the Oak Opening, Jared led a crew of brush cutters, stump poisoners and brush haulers and I led a team to set the piles on fire..
Zach Kastern led another team clearing brush along the horse trail.
Jerry took one for the team.
Herb Sharpless, with the Kettle Moraine Land Trust, led another crew working farther north along the horse trail, but they were in brush so dense that I didn’t see them!
It was another wonderful and satisfying day working at the Kettle Moraine Oak Opening SNA!
See you at The Springs!