Kettle Moraine Oak Opening

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.

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Zach Kastern gets the party started.
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Our chef sets the table.

Feast your eyes on this work crew!
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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.

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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:

NR40 establishes classification of invasive species and regulates certain categories of plants. The BMPs (Best Management Practices) identify measures that ROW (right-of-way) managers can take to minimize the introduction and spread of invasive plants by applying maintenance resources effectively. A growing concern for more than 20 years, experts point to invasive species as a threat to ecological balance and the economic value of Wisconsin’s lands and water.
Gary Birch, an ecologist with the WisDOT Division of Transportation Development, says the department is reviewing the impact of NR40 on its policies and mowing directives for state highways.  WisDOT also is working with the DNR to create programs on invasive species management for use around the state. Birch hopes to circulate the DNR Field Guide at future workshops, part of “a monumental effort” to help road maintenance managers and crew members recognize problem plants and what methods to use, when.

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..

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Zach Kastern led another team clearing brush along the horse trail.

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Jerry took one for the team.

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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!

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See you at The Springs!

3 thoughts on “Kettle Moraine Oak Opening

  1. Pingback: Burn the Alley | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  2. Pingback: The Mighty Oaks of Ottawa Lake | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  3. Pingback: Burn the Whitewater Oak Opening! | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

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