The Oak Cathedral

The White, Black, Red and Burr Oaks on the Cut-Off trail create a sacred space.   These majestic works of art exhibit the most graceful, dynamic, flowing, architectural lines possible.  Removing the clutter and tangle of Buckthorn from beneath their sweeping canopys is akin to wiping away the dirt from the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  I’m honored and thankful for the opportunity to do it!

It couldn’t have been more peaceful and beautiful at the Springs today as I continued clearing Buckthorn along the cut-off trail in the area marked in white below.


I made a little fire, and needed it to defrost my sprayer, but with the bright sunshine and light winds, I was plenty warm.

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There were some huge and TALL Buckthorns in this area and they all seemed to be sprouting dozens of interlocking trunks and branches.  It tries your patience after a while and I had to quit after 6 tankfuls with the chainsaw.

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Its tough to capture the scale of these beauties in the Oak Cathedral.

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The Scuppernong River is near and will be visible from the trail.

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In THE PONDS OF THE SCUPPERNONG, Robert Duerwachter described efforts to create a goldfish farm in this area of the river.  I think I found the spot.  There are some old pipes laying there, which we’ll haul out, and a spring is flowing into the river.

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The sun set early behind a solid bank of clouds and I took these pictures on the high ground at the South end of the trail that we recently cut and burned.

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The water level is holding steady but it looks like there is some dirt, or possibly, damage at the base of the measuring stick.  We’ll have to take a closer look next time.


Heh, see you at the Springs!

Break On Through To The Other Side

Morning view of the Springs.



I can’t believe we got the Lost Trail opened up before the big snow came!  Lindsay really got after it last Sunday and showed me what was possible.  With that inspiration, I finished opening up the cut-off trail today.  Here are a few before pics.

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And After…

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This temporary bridge will be replaced with something nicer next year.  You can see a bit of the Marl factory.


Speaking of “Marl”, a man who really inspires me is Marlin Johnson, retired Biology Teacher at the University of Wisconsin, Waukesha and current Manager of the UW-Waukesha Field Station.  He recently shared two books with me: The Tibby Line – Dousman Marlboro & Southern and The Ponds of the Scuppernong, both by Robert Duerwachter (Win Press Publishing  The former documents the history of the rail line used to haul Marl from the Scuppernong Springs’ “pits” to Dousman and the Marl industry in general.  I’ll post some highlights soon.

Here is another shakey video tour of the Lost Trail.  You’ll have to supply your own spooky music.

It looks like this Saturday, December 22, will be a perfect day to start burning brush piles!  “Come on baby light my fire”.

See you at the Springs!

All for one, one for all!

… the Three BrushCuteers cried as they fired up their chainsaws.  Rich, Lindsay and I took the battle to the enemy today and many a stout and formidable foe was slain, dismembered and piled.  The battle ground was the hilltop/sand dune just above the Hillside and Hidden Springs (see Map), where we have been working recently.

Rich Csavoy attacked a patch of Black Locust.

And it’s clear who got the better of this fight!

Porthos, aka Lindsay Knudsvig, beat back a frontal assault of Buckthorn and Black Locust while defending the High Ground.

When it was over, you could not cross the battlefield without stepping on a corpse of the invasive enemy.

Meanwhile, Paul ambushed a small army of Buckthorn attempting to sneak up on Lindsay’s blind side.

They never new what hit them.

Anne Korman, Assistant Superintendent of the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, stopped by to enjoy the Springs and offer support and encouragement.  Thanks!

This Saturday, December 1rst, The Three BrushCuteers plan to return to the field of battle in the same location.  Hope to see you at the Springs!

Little Yellowstone

One of “the old boys” who used to manage the maintenance shop at the DNR headquarters in the South Kettle Moraine referred to the Scuppernong Springs as “The Little Yellowstone”.  I really liked that analogy.  We have our own mini old faithful right here in the Kettle Moraine.  See for yourself!

Yesterday I worked on a little bowl, a seasonally wet area, situated between the hilltop I worked at last weekend and the Indian Campground/Sand Prairie.  Take a look at the before scenery.

And the view from where I parked my wheel barrel loaded with gear.

I must confess, I had a hard time deciding where to start.   I used a brush cutter first and was careful to spray all of the Black Locust saplings with TransLine.  There was a thicket of wild raspberry or blackberry 6′ tall and a lot of Buckthorn and Aspen saplings as well.  I’m planning to use a foliar spray next Spring to attack the resprouts when they first come up.

Here is how it looked at the end of the day.

There is a lot of piling to do and that is going to be our focus for the next month or so.  Check out the nice sunset.

Brush clearing along the river

I’m revisiting a couple of areas that I worked on last year.  On the first pass through these areas along the river, I focused on Buckthorn and left a lot of brush including Willows and Dogwoods and a lot of scruffy, half-burned, Cherry trees and spindly Aspens that have fallen over without the Buckthorn there to prop them up.  The areas in question are highlighted below.

Trail boss Don Dane and retired DNR naturalist Ron Kurowski both recommended cutting these woody plants to clear the way for the natural Fen and Wet Meadow plant communities.  This will also improve the views from the bridges at the Marl Pits #4 and on the Scuppernong River at #5 above on the map as well as reveal clear views of the Marl Pit bridge and Scuppernong River from the Scenic Overlook on the Indian Campground.

Here is view from the Scenic Overlook looking in the direction of the Marl Pit bridge.  The brush in question is just to the right of the two big Red Oak trees in the center of the picture.

Here is view from the bridge over the Scuppernong River at signpost #5.  The brush is on the left in the shadows.

And here is the view from the Marl Pit bridge.  The brush appears above the cattails and below the large trees.

That was harder than I thought it would be.  After 10+ hours cutting in a Willow thicket, I was  about ready to throw my chain saw at it.  It was hot today (9/3), and I was pouring sweat from the minute I fired up the chain saw.  Here are the after pictures, first from the scenic overlook.  It’s hard to see in this picture but you can now see the river flowing underneath the Marl Pit bridge.

And the view from the bridge over the Scuppernong River at #5.

And the view from the Marl Pit bridge.  Notice you can see through to the scenic overlook.

I’m taking a break for a month and will be back at it around 10/6.  Hope to see you out at the Springs sometime.