The Ottawa Lake Fen Scientific Area

Perhaps it was a reaction to my post about the Bluff Creek Springs, where I lamented the inability of the DNR, given the funding available to them, to adequately manage the state-owned lands under their care, that prompted Jared Urban, the coordinator of the State Natural Areas volunteers, to send me the Wisconsin’s Natural Heritage Conservation Program 2014 Annual Report.  The report explains some of the complex issues the DNR faces, as they try to manage 673 State Natural Areas encompassing over 373,000 acres with a budget under $5,000,000.  I have only respect for the hard working, dedicated staff of the Natural Heritage Conservation Program.

Philosophically, I’m in a bind.  Government is literally and etymologically: mind-control.  It is a religion based on the dogmatic belief, programmatically instilled in us from birth, that it is OK, even possible, for people to delegate rights that they do not have to an association of people that they call government.  People calling themselves “Government” assert rights they do not have, that no human being has e.g., torture, taxation etc., and they take away rights we all inherently possess e.g., prohibition, licensing etc.  So long as the vast majority of people continue to believe it is OK to do business and force your services on people at the point of a gun — if you call yourself Government — there will be no awakening of consciousness and immoral acts done in our name will continue.

Whether or not I think or believe any government: federal, state or local, is legitimate, counts for nothing when it comes to the reality of the challenges humanity faces if we choose to accept responsibility for preserving and protecting the flora and fauna on the planet.  Right now, entities we call government, control vast and diverse lands encompassing the treasures of the natural world and they are NOT prioritizing the effort to take care of them.  The amount of money spent on the Natural Heritage Conservation Program in 2014 is obscenely trivial compared to the amount required, or the amount spent on the military, industrial, security complex (to keep us safe, of course!)

I’m choosing to cooperate with government by volunteering my time and energy to help take care of the land it controls, but I’m sorely conflicted:

“A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.”

Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

In the past month I have been focusing, with the help of the Kettle Moraine Land Stewards, on the Ottawa Lake Fen SNA.

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Chris Mann, and his team from the KMLS, have made a huge difference, reminiscent of the way Ben Johnson super-charged our efforts at The Springs this past year.  Thanks again to Ron Kurowski for hiring Chris and to the Kettle Moraine Natural History Association for funding his team.

As we progressed clearing the buckthorn from the tamarack grove and along the north and east sides of the fen, I imagined a trail all the way around the fen connecting with the boat launch on the southwest side of Ottawa Lake.  I asked Anne Korman, the Assistant Superintendent of the Kettle Moraine State Forest — Southern Unit, about it and she entertained the idea.  I got an email the next day from Eric Tarman-Ramcheck, a long-time land steward recently hired by the DNR, containing The Ottawa Lake Fen Scientific Area Report.  This fascinating document, from 1975, provides a window into the management strategy of the DNR at that time, and includes this very interesting map of the fen.

OttawaLakeFenResearchAreaReport1975

The dashed (——) lines could easily be mistaken for a trail system but they actually demarcate the different plant community zones.  Imagine what it was like back in 1975 when the buckthorn was not an issue and the bird watching tower and canoe accessible boardwalk were in place.  40 years of hands-off management “to maintain area in wild condition”, allowed the degradation of the land by invasive species to progress.  It has taken the effort of one who “loves his servitude”, to The Creator that is, to reverse that trend.

This past Monday, December 21, Chris Mann and Austin Avellone helped me finish clearing the buckthorn from the east side of the fen, just north of the walk-in campsite #334.  Here is how it looked before we got started.

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The rain held off until the afternoon and then the gentle drizzle did not damper our spirits.  We had a very productive day and I returned the next morning to document the results.

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I made a date with Chris and company to meet me at The Springs, just down the trail a bit towards signpost #1, to burn some brush piles we made in late 2013 and cut the nearby buckthorn orchard.  Here is what we faced as the sun tried to peek through and a strong breeze from the southwest help dry out the wood.

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Jake Michaels joined Chris, Austin and myself and we had a field day!

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As I took the video below, two deer crept up behind me, blending in almost imperceptibly with the landscape.

I am amazed and, dare I say, overjoyed, by the progress being made since Chris and the Kettle Moraine Land Stewards joined the fray!

See you at The Springs!

4 thoughts on “The Ottawa Lake Fen Scientific Area

  1. Pingback: The U. S. Government is a Pyschopath | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  2. Pingback: Winter Break | Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail

  3. Pingback: Return to My Shangri-La | The Buckthorn Man

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