Every Pile You Make

The allure of the Hatching House Springs was irresistible, compelling us to pause our brush piling efforts for a couple days.  Today I picked up where we left off last time and finished piling at the Indian Springs.

There is a second, smaller, spring and channel next to the Indian Spring and I finally got around to cleaning the brush out of it.

The main Indian Spring outflow channel is on the right below and the spring shown above joins on the left side.

Looking back up towards the spring source.

Next, I went to the hilltop I cut back in October and, along with Pati, made a few more piles.  This is where we will resume this Saturday.

The last thing we did was clean the leaves out of the Scuppernong Spring and the Hillside Springs.  One of the four Hillside Springs has dried up!  I’ll get some pictures with morning light.

It’s another phragmites sunset.

I’ll be watch’in for you out at the Springs.

I make piles with a little help from my friends

Thanks to my good friends we almost finished piling all of the brush at the Indian Springs that Rich and I prepped Last Thursday.  This area was one of the nastiest Buckthorn thickets we’ve ever had the pleasure of cutting.

While I was still working at Northwestern Mutual, I often told my coworkers about my work in the Kettle Moraine and today Chakry Indlamuri and Sriram Raghavulu came out to check it out and pile some brush.  Here is Sriram in action.

Sriram and Lindsay.

And Chakry.

Later John and Sue Hrobar joined in.  Sue gave me a thumb drive with hundreds of pictures she took at the Springs and we’ll post some of them here soon.

And finally my ever lov’in mate Pati arrived with some awesome peanut butter cookies and took this picture.

We made around 20-25 piles and Sriram and Chakry both plan to come back and help again!

It was a warm, sunny day and a lovely breeze kept us refreshed.  Speaking of which, Chakry brought a bottle of Champagne and a bit of Chivas Regal and we “partied” by the Scuppernong Spring.  “…I get high with a little help from my friends…”.

Buckthorn Clearing Continues at Indian Springs

It’s been a while since we cut Buckthorn at the Indian Springs.  Lindsay took a bite out of it on Saturday 8/25 and I did some cutting yesterday 8/27.  Here are some before shots.

At the work site as the fog was lifting.

And the view from the scenic overlook.

6 tanks of gas and bar oil later the view from the work site.

And the scenic overlook.

And from the Indian Spring.

We are focusing on cutting now to allow the Buckthorn to dry out as much as possible.  We’ll pile it later to finish preparing it for burning this Winter, when we get some snow cover.

On his last visit, Ron Kurowski showed me where a spring was hidden by the old hotel site.  I have marked it with a white line on this map.

I forgot to take some before pictures, but all you could see was a bit of water cress.   Below are pictures of the “new” Spring after I cleaned it up.  When I found the 4″ pipe that was originally installed to collect and channel the outflow of the Spring and unplugged it, the water began flowing at a much higher volume.  Thanks Ron for pointing out the location of this Spring!

The view from the trail.  The outflow pipe is hidden under the big flat stone.

And the view from the river.

It was another beautiful day at the Springs.  Here are a few closing shots.

The scenic overlook and Indian Campground after the recent clearings as seen from the Marl pits.


Water Works and Odds and Ends

I cherish every day I get to spend at the Scuppernong Springs.  Saturday, August 11th was an absolutely gorgeous day indeed.

Since I resumed working at the Springs in late April 2011, I’ve thought about giving the individual springs names.  Well, they already have names that I just recently noticed on the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail Map, included in the guide.

The namesake spring is the Scuppernong Spring, which I’ve been referring to as the first or main spring.  Then there are the Hillside Springs (actually in two locations), the Hidden Spring, the Emerald Spring, the Hotel Spring and the Indian Spring.  Trail boss Don Dane says there are 13 springs and one of these days, I’ll get him to document where they all are.  The trail brochure explains — The name Scuppernong comes from a Ho Chunk word meaning “sweet-scented land.”  I wonder what names the Ho Chunk people gave to the individual springs.  From now on, I will be using the current names when referring to the individual springs.

I started the day with a couple of clean-up tasks.  A huge Cottonwood tree had fallen parallel to the trail and a few branches needed to be cleared.

And a Hickory came down across the trail.

Since we have opened up the area at the South end of the trail, there has been an explosion of Black Locust.  They grow very fast and have the nastiest barbs you will find on any woody plant.  The DNR began girdling the huge Black Locusts many years ago and we are continuing that effort and cleaning up the trees as the die and fall.  They can be harvested for firewood as well (contact Mike, the forester at the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, for a permit).  I sprayed 5 gallons of Roundup on the bushy black locust.  Don Dane recommends we use TransLine and we will do so as soon as we get some.

Then I continued our efforts clearing the quack grass from the Indian Spring.  Lindsay got most of it already and I cleaned up the last remnants.

This effort stirred up at lot of mud, which collected at an earthen bridge that crosses the Indian Springs outflow channel.  The water finds a way under it somehow but the bridge restricts the flow.  When Don and Dave visited the site on August 9th, they recommended that we open it up and so I did.

Then it was on to the Observation Deck at the Emerald Springs (see map above) where I wanted to pull a patch of water cress that had formed a dam that actually forced the river out of its natural path.  Don pointed this out and showed me where the river used to flow.  John and Sue Hrobar, stopped over to say hello.  We will soon be posting some of their stories and pictures describing the various flora and fauna they have observed.

Finally, on the way back to car going up a DNR access road by the Hotel Springs, I had to capture these views of the river valley that are now visible since we cleared some of the Willows that were filling in.

It was a great day at the Springs!

Indian Springs Buckthorn Clearing Update

On Sunday August 5th Lindsay and I spent a beautiful day cutting Buckthorn at the Indian Springs.  We are trying to open up the vista out to the prairie from the Indian Springs looking West and from the Indian Campground on the trail above as well.

DNR Trail Master Don Dane has prepared a whole new set of sign posts to correspond with the Self-Guided Nature Trail brochure.  They should be going in sometime this month or in early September.

Here are a few before shots.  We continued cutting from where we left off last time…

The area of brush below is on the left side of the channel that flows out of the Indian Springs to join the Scuppernong River just upstream from the Marl Pit bridge.

Here are the after shots.  We did a bit of brush piling too.

We plan to girdle the Aspen that we found amongst the buckthorn, which you can see below.

Just for fun, one of my favorite views along the trail…

Check the volunteer page to see what we are planning to do next and come out an join us!

Quackgrass Attack!


After from opposite Before

July 26:  After removing watercress from the Indian Springs quackgrass quickly moved in. So we took care of that, too.  I didn’t have Paul’s brute strength around because he was away acquiring inspiration from another one of our precious planets natural gems- Isle Royale I think he called it- so, as per WDNR,  I knocked it back with some Aquaneat and dug it out with my trusty three-prongued groundbreaker and a garden pitch fork.  We gotta give those Native Sedges, Rushes, Forbs and Brook Trout a chance, don’t we.

Indian Springs Buckthorn Removal Continues

Lindsay and I spent a hot and sweaty day on 7/2 cutting Buckthorn on the South side of the outflow from the Indian Springs.  We made a lot of progress despite the conditions.  Here are some before and after pics.

And after…

One thing that makes this work so rewarding is watching all of the plants that were previously choked out by the Buckthorn emerge.  Below is a Michigan Lily that emerged in an area along the Indian Spring that we cut last year.

Quack Grass Dominates Indian Spring

The Indian Springs is a lovely spot along the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail.  There are many springs in this area and they collect in a channel that feeds into the Scuppernong River just upstream from the bridge at the Marl Pits.  The springs were choked with water cress, which Lindsay and I pulled earlier this Spring.  Here are a couple of photos after we pulled the cress.

The shot below is of the area just below where Lindsay is standing above.  There is a nice bubbler in the “thumb” of this spring shown below, which is now completely choked with quack grass.

We noticed a grass exposed after we pulled the cress but did not attempt to identify it or remove it.   Well, it was quack grass and it quickly expanded to take over the entire spring area.

We manually pulled out the quack grass from the heart of the main spring since it was relatively easy to get the entire root structure out of this loose sand.

In the upper right of the picture below is the “thumb” referred to above, now completely choked with quack grass.

We reviewed the situation with Ron Kurowski and he recommended removing it.  DNR trail master Don Dane suggested spraying, as digging it all out would have required removing a lot of soil and really disturbing the area.  The root system of quack grass is very intense and it is not easy to dig out completely so we went to the last resort, spraying with herbicide.

Nobody wants to spray herbicide anywhere near water, especially a crystal clear and pure spring, but we felt we had no choice.  We sprayed the quack grass with AquaNeat, which is relatively safe for use in the water, and we’ll be documenting the results in a future post.

Cutting and Piling Buckthorn

Buckthorn is a nasty invasive tree that can completely dominate an area slowly eliminating all competitors.  It seems like the only thing that likes buckthorn is garlic mustard!

Here are a couple videos of our current efforts in the area of the Indian Springs.  I’m planning to update this site with a work schedule, or simply a task list, so that those who would like to help will know when we are working or what they can do on their own schedule.  We can definitely use some help piling brush and Phragmites.

Burning Brush Piles

We didn’t have much of Winter in 2011/2012 season, but we did manage to burn 185 brush piles.  Here are a few pictures from the Indian Springs location at the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail.

Our good friend John Mesching helped us out.

Lindsay and I met in November of 2011 while taking the Basic Wildland Fire Series offerings S-130, S-190 and L-180 at the Madison Area Technical College  www.madisoncollege.edu and he fell in love with the Springs the first time he came out to help me burn.

You may have noticed new brush piles along the Nature Trail.  We plan to burn them this Winter.

Here is the latest, as of 11/11/12 info on Basic Wildland Fire Series offerings.

COURSE OFFERING 1 –  NUMBER:        34464 / TERM 1134

COURSE LOCATION:       MATC Fire Service Education Center

                                                1750 Pearson St., Madison, WI

COURSE DATES:    Saturday and Sunday, December 1 & 2, 2012 AND Friday, Saturday and Sunday, December 7 – 9, 2012;  8:00 am – 5:00 pm.

In order to complete the class you need to attend ALL of the course sessions.


COURSE OFFERING 2 – NUMBER:         62049 / TERM 1138

COURSE LOCATION:       MATC Protective Services Center

                                                1701 Pearson St., Madison, WI

COURSE DATES:  Saturday and Sunday, February 9 & 10, 2013 AND Friday, Saturday and Sunday, February 15-17, 2013; 8:00 am – 5:00 pm.

In order to complete the class you need to attend ALL of the course sessions.

COURSE FEE:          $138.15 – you will receive an invoice that needs to be paid by date indicated.   You can go to myMadisoncollege account and pay on-line once you have registered. You will NOT receive a 2nd notice.

COURE PRE-REQS:            There isn’t any! – You can register on-line at http://www.madisoncollege.edu. If you need help creating your student log-in, contact the enrollment center at 608-246-6210.

Class in December will be at the Fire Center, Class in February in new protective services center.