I’ll tell you what looks easy though: two experts driving forestry mowers cutting huge swaths of buckthorn in a couple hours, that would have taken, even The Buckthorn Man, weeks to do with a brush cutter.
We had absolutely perfect conditions for DNR Facilities Repair Worker, Don Dane (that title doesn’t even begin to describe what Don does!) and Forestry/Wildlife Technician, Mike Spaight, to mow buckthorn at the Hartland Marsh. This latest initiative at The Hartland Marsh, spearheaded by Kevin Thusius, property manager for the Ice Age Trail Alliance, manifested it’s first concrete result last week thanks to Paul Sandgren, Forest Superintendent Southern Unit – KMSF Lapham Peak & Glacial Drumlin Trail East, donating two full days of his best equipment and crew. Thanks Paul!
I’ll always love the Scuppernong Springs, but there is an even prettier, more pristine, more remote complex of springs at the Bluff Creek State Natural Area. There aren’t any noisy highways or bright lights nearby; just babbling waters emerging beneath old oaks in classic Kettle Moraine country.
The headwaters of Bluff Creek are a Class I Trout Stream!
Zach had done some preliminary work cutting and piling and he arrived early to light the fires.
Soon we were all hard at work. Thanks to Pati for these pics!
We wrapped up the morning’s efforts around noon and munched on some Valentine donuts.
A few of us continued working in the afternoon and here is how it looked at the end of the day.
That was Chris Mann and Zach Kastern talking shop after we visited the springs on the north side of the ridge. We hung out by the fire and watched the ducks and geese drift in for the night; it was blissful and none of us wanted to leave. It’s very inspiring to work with a big group of volunteers like we had yesterday. Lord knows we can’t rely on the arbitrary whims of the legislators in government to do the right thing by the land.
I got back to work last Monday cutting buckthorn amongst the tamaracks on the north west side of the Ottawa Lake Fen SNA. I can’t wait to see the tamaracks sans buckthorn this spring!
Here is the view from the pond.
The Buckthorn intertwines with the tamarack and kills it.
It will take a few more days to finish clearing this grove.
Ottawa lake sunset.
On Wednesday, I got back to The Springs to cut and burn buckthorn just down the trail from signpost #2. Here is how it looked before I got started.
I’m standing by my sled, which you can see in the picture above, for the next two shots.
I’m really looking forward to clearing this stretch of buckthorn between signpost #2 and the marl pit factory so that you’ll be able to see across the Scuppernong River Habitat Area to the Kettle Moraine ridges to the south.
Looking back up the trail towards signpost #2.
By the time I dropped my gear off at the truck and changed into some dry boots, the sun was already down.
I love springs. They’re pure and simple, shimmering musical, bubbling forth life and hope; just what I need. So it was serendipitous that Pati and I decided to hike the Ice Age Trail in the Kettle Moraine State Forest Pike Lake Unit, where we discovered that the lake is fed by numerous springs along its eastern shore.
The Rubicon River flows through the lake on its way to the Rock River, providing refreshing circulation.
In 2001 a 60′ observation tower was built at the top of Powder Hill that provides a unique perspective of the the surrounding Kettle Moraine topography.
The highlight of the extensive trail system is the Black Forest Nature Trail, which takes you through a remnant of Southern Dry-Mesic Forest that includes spring-fed wetlands.
We are definitely going to visit this beautiful place again as the seasons change.
Back home at The Springs, I had another great week thanks to a little help from my friends. On Martin Luther King Day, I was joined by my old friend from Northwestern Mutual, Mark Mamerow, who helped me for many years to clean out the Bark River and make it navigable for canoes and kayaks from the Village of Hartland to Lake Nagawicka.
THE COURT: In answer to the question did Loyd Jowers participate in a conspiracy to do harm to Dr. Martin Luther King, your answer is yes. Do you also find that others, including governmental agencies, were parties to this conspiracy as alleged by the defendant? Your answer to that one is also yes. And the total amount of damages you find for the plaintiffs entitled to is one hundred dollars. Is that your verdict?
THE JURY: Yes (In unison).
There is overwhelming evidence that James Earl Ray did not shoot Dr. King and that others, “including governmental agencies” were involved. Yet, every year on Martin Luther King day, the nation’s collective amnesia is “refreshed” by the total blackout of this important information in the main stream media. This is the kind of thing that drives The Buckthorn Man crazy. You can listen to William F. Pepper tell the story here.
I met Mark at the DNR parking area above the Hotel Spring and we headed to the area north of the old barn site along Hwy 67, where I have been working recently. Our goal was to burn the brush previously cut and continue clearing the buckthorn from the hillside below the highway. Here are a few shots taken after we got the first fire started.
We allowed time and energy to take a tour of The Springs afterwards and I got to show off all of the cool things we did last year. Thanks Mark!
Last Thursday I was joined deep in the Buckthorn Alley by Chris Mann and the Kettle Moraine Land Stewards (Brian Brandt and Austin Avellone.) We are clearing the north side of the trail, which, now that you can see, consists of rolling uplands interspersed with wetlands. Here is how it looked before we got started (the views are looking east, north and southeast.)
Lunch break update.
The results far exceeded my expectations! Brian Brandt really kicked ass, putting Chris, Austin and The Buckthorn Man to shame. I think he might even be able to give Ben Johnson and Lindsay Knudsvig a run for their money! Below are the same three perspectives shown above.
Finally, on Saturday, taking advantage of the mild weather, I headed over to the east shore of Ottawa Lake to burn some brush piles that Andy Buchta stacked this past Fall. Thanks again Andy!
Mark Miner joins us when he can, and I really appreciated his help on Saturday to watch and tend the brush piles after I got them lit. We had a safe and effective day burning piles along the lake shore all the way up to the east side of the Ottawa Lake Fen SNA.
Views from the campground, site #380, where I parked my truck.
Views from the east side of the fen.
It’s a load off my mind when I can get brush piles burned!
A couple of closing shots from our adventure at Pike Lake yesterday.
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. Rightnow, 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.”
In the past month I have been focusing, with the help of the Kettle Moraine Land Stewards, on the Ottawa Lake Fen SNA.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jake Michaels joined Chris, Austin and myself and we had a field day!
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!
Yeah, that was me back when I was just learning how to use my chainsaw.
So, when and where did The Buckthorn Man learn the “facts of life”? You won’t believe it. It was this past Tuesday, in the Village of Hartland’s Village Board meeting room! Kevin Thusius, Director of Land Conservation with the Ice Age Trail Alliance, explained that everyone knows it is sexy to cut big buckthorn with a chainsaw, but not so glamorous to do the maintenance required to keep the resprouts and seedlings from resurging. Ah, ha! now I understand that funny feeling I get when I pull the cord and my chainsaw springs to life…
It was an exciting meeting to say the least. Kevin is working on a plan, in conjunction with the Village of Hartland, the Waukesha County Land Conservancy, the DNR, and private landowners, to preserve the work I did at the Hartland Marsh from 2004 – 2011. It’s too bad I didn’t realize how sexy those times were: if only I knew then, what I know now. I’ll keep you posted as things develop at the Hartland Marsh.
Well, I could hardly contain my enthusiasm this past week as I returned to the east shore of the Ottawa Lake Fen State Natural Area to have a go with some very attractive buckthorn. I laced my chaps up tight, dabbed a bit of bar oil on my face and neck, wore my helmet cocked stylishly to the left (which I know buckthorn can’t resist), and plunged my chainsaw into the thicket…
Here is how it looked this past Wednesday before the orgy began.
I was soon joined by my randy buddies, Chris, Austin and Andy.
We had a very satisfying day whacking, piling and burning buckthorn.
As you can image, we couldn’t get enough of that hot buckthorn, and we returned on Thursday to find them ready and willing.
Chris found this old automobile and got in the backseat with a shapely buckthorn!
By the end of the day, I was spent…
Sparks were flying. I think this is the real thing!
Apuleius, the Roman philosopher, rhetorician, & satirist said: “Familiarity breeds contempt, while rarity wins admiration.”, and paradoxically, that has been my experience with the few of Wisconsin’s 673 SNAs that I have visited. You might be thinking: ‘Hang on there Buckthorn Man; contempt is a strong word, how can you apply it the State Natural Areas?’ The answer is deeply philosophical, so, please, remember what Aristotle said: “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
I will cut to the chase: I am an anarchist seeking a voluntary society. I don’t think the powers assumed by the “State” are legitimately based, especially the use of coercion to tax us. Under Natural Law, 1, 2, 10, 1,000 or 1,000,000 people do not have the right to delegate powers — that none of them possess individually — to an association they call government. Do I have the right to demand that you give me 20% of your earnings?
That is the perspective I bring when I become intimately familiar with any of our State owned lands; focusing here on the SNAs. What I find “contemptible” is the idea that “we the people” rely on government to take care of our most precious natural resources rather than voluntarily assuming that responsibility for ourselves. Here is the DNR’s SNA management philosophy:
Land stewardship is guided by principles of ecosystem management. For some SNAs, the best management prescription is to “let nature take its course” and allow natural processes and their subsequent effects, to proceed without constraint. However, some processes, such as the encroachment of woody vegetation and the spread of invasive and exotic plant species, threaten the biological integrity of many SNAs. These sites require hands-on management and, in some cases, the reintroduction of natural functions — such as prairie fire — that are essentially absent from the landscape.
Wisconsin has desginated 673 SNA’s, encompassing over 373,000 acres. Please don’t assume the DNR has a comprehensive management plan for these sites including: goals, objectives, budget, staffing, timelines etc… they do not have the funds to accomplish this, and don’t assume that it is OK to “let nature take its course”. Since I don’t accept the legitimacy of government authority, it would be contradictory for me to advocate that we divert even a tiny percent of the money our federal government spends on wars of aggression and the security, industrial, military complex, to nurture and care for our treasured state lands. Nope, I’m suggesting that each one of us volunteer our time and attention to care for the land. Visit an SNA near you and become intimately familiar with it; let the rarity of these beautiful places win your admiration (and active involvement!)
I mentioned in the video how excited I was to return for the SNA workday in December and I was not disappointed (visit the Southern Kettle Moraine SNA Volunteers on Facebook). We gathered yesterday morning on the ice covered parking lot at the Lone Tree Bluff trailhead on Esterly Road.
Zach Kastern introduced us to the day’s project.
At the trailhead, you take the left-hand, unmarked path towards the springs rather than follow the steps straight up to Lone Tree Bluff. This is not an official trail, but it will definitely become more obvious as we continue working there. When we got to the work site, Zach gave more specific instructions and we all introduced ourselves. It was a great crew to be with!
I was in heaven and thoroughly enjoyed the day. I grabbed these images while taking a break to gas up the saw.
Jared Urban coordinates volunteers at the SNA’s in the southern part of the state. The next 5 action shots are courtesy of Jared.
Ginny rips it up.
Kyungmann in the thick of it.
Scott, Tom and Zach.
Tom stoking the fire.
Group shot minus Dale and Gary. (Back row left to right: The Buckthorn Man, Jared B., Tom, Scott and Kyungmann and Ginny and Zach in the front row)
The official workday ended at noon but a few of us hung out to talk and share lunch by the fire. I cut buckthorn all afternoon and Zach and Scott fed the brush piles. Here is how it looked at the end of the day.
Here are a couple views of the site before we got started.
Looking north from the channel of the spring that flows into the fen.
Looking down the trail towards where we left off last time. The buckthorn on the left is doomed.
Below looking right and left from where Chris Mann left off the previous Monday.
I was soon joined by Chris, Austin and, much to my delight, Andy Buchta and we got after it.
We had an excellent day and finished the fen-side of the trail all the way north to the tamarack grove; and even got a few licks in on the south side of the spring channel that flows into the fen, working along the trail that leads to the Ottawa Lake campground.
When we finished I took a walk from the point where we stopped, shown above, heading back across the channel to where Chris and Austin were still piling brush.
I had a mellow day last Thursday brush cutting and poisoning the scrub red oak, cherry and buckthorn on the sand prairie. I think it’s time to start burning brush piles.
I don’t fish. My rights under natural law do not extend to harming any sentient creature, except in the case of self defense. I’m still troubled by the memory of the beautiful adult river otter I ran over with my truck and trailer, while passing a slowdriver on the way to Lake Owen this past summer. I was the unconscious one.
I know, I’m in the minority, and you might wonder why I would introduce an article about the great work the Southeast Wisconsin Trout Unlimited organization has been doing for almost 50 years by reflecting on the nature of fishing. I’m just being honest. I love fish, especially brook trout, and recognize that the Scuppernong River is potentially an ideal place for “brookies” to live long and happy lives; that is why I am putting my energy into rehabilitating the headwaters of the Scuppernong River at The Springs.
The art of fly fishing is a classic solitary pursuit.
But fishermen/women have long recognized that they need to work together to effectively conserve, protect and restore our fisheries; hence the formation of organizations like Trout Unlimited.
TU’s guiding principles are:
From the beginning, TU was guided by the principle that if we “take care of the fish, then the fishing will take care of itself.” And that principle was grounded in science. “One of our most important objectives is to develop programs and recommendations based on the very best information and thinking available,” said TU’s first president, Dr. Casey E. Westell Jr. “In all matters of trout management, we want to know that we are substantially correct, both morally and biologically.”
The Southeast Wisconsin Chapter of TU (SEWTU) was formed in the late 1960s and, after working with them this past Saturday on the Scuppernong River, I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment expressed on their website:
You’ll be hard pressed to find a better bunch of individuals than those who comprise the rank and file of SEWTU. Friendly faces, kind words, and good fishing stories — some are even occasionally true — welcome all comers.
Since 2006, SEWTU has done many projects in the Scuppernong River Watershed, mostly on Paradise Springs Creek and the headwaters of the Scuppernong River. For example, on a cold winter day in 2008 they installed bio-logs just upstream from the Emerald Springs overlook deck and closed off the marl pit canal from the river. They did two projects on the river in 2013, installing bio-logs in the stretch between the old barn site and gaging station bridge (scroll down in these posts to view the work they did in December 2013.)
I really regretted not being on-site for the 2013 SEWTU Scuppernong River workdays. My excuse is the reference in their email notifications to the Scuppernong Creek (you may notice this on their website(s) as well), that confused me. Thanks to Ben Heussner for giving me a heads up this time. It was a pleasure to work with SEWTU members on December 6th installing bio-logs just upstream from the gaging station bridge. It was a very successful workday that completed the channel remediation efforts from the old barn site downstream to the gaging station bridge (with one caveat that we’ll get to below when we interview Larry Wirth.)
The day started when Pati and I met the Wisconsin DNR Fisheries Technicians, Joshua Krall and Ryen Kleiser, at the DNR parking area above the Hotel Spring.
We got some drinking water at the Hotel Spring and then watched Josh delivering the first load of bio-logs to the site.
We then headed over to the main parking lot on Hwy ZZ to meet-up with the SEWTU work crew.
Here is a survey of the work area before we got started.
After reviewing the plan with Josh, I turned and got these pictures.
The workday progressed flawlessly as more SEWTU volunteers streamed in.
We soon had all of the bio-logs in place and focused on filling in brush behind them.
We accomplished an amazing amount of work before noon!
Back at the parking lot, Ray, Chris and the other chefs laid out the traditional SEWTU brat fry.
James Flagg above, talking with Mike Kuhr and with his son, Jim, below (sorry, I didn’t get in a little closer for this shot!)
During the morning Pati struck up a conversation with Larry Wirth, a long-time SEWTU member, about his role in the DNR’s decision to drain THE PONDS OF THE SCUPPERNONG (scroll down in the post linked above for some great, vintage shots of the ponds taken by Pete Nielsen). I had to talk to Larry.
At the end of the interview, Larry expressed his concern and uncertainty about the suitability of coconut hull bio-logs to macro invertebrate life, which is essential for good trout habitat. We talked to Josh Krall about the “sterility” of bio-log channels. Josh explained that channel remediation was the first, and necessary, step in the restoration and that we could/should follow up and introduce organic material on the inside of the bio-logs to provide food and habitat for macro invertebrates like caddisfly. Larry asked if there had been any studies done regarding the transition of bio-logs to a more natural stream bank and their suitability to supporting macro invertebrates.
The two sites with biologs were not as productive as other sites and there did not appear to be other shoreline features associated with macroinvertebrate abundance or diversity.
The bio-logs upstream of the Emerald Spring were installed by SEWTU in 2008, and we can refer to them to gauge their transition to natural riverbank and the presence of macro invertebrates in their vicinity. I plan to investigate this further next spring. In general, I think it would be a good idea to line the insides of the bio-logs with some brush, logs or rocks to provide habitat for macro invertebrates. Perhaps we can do another workday with SEWTU in 2015 to focus on this next important step.
As if working with SEWTU wasn’t exciting enough, Chris Mann and Austin Avellone, from the Kettle Moraine Land Stewards, joined me for a very productive workday on Wednesday, December 3, at the Ottawa Lake Fen SNA. I began clearing the buckthorn from the tamarack grove there on Monday, December 1. I was very happy to see that Andy Buchta had been busy piling the brush that Lindsay and I cut back in October. Since then, Andy has finished piling all the brush we cut there.
Here is how the tamarack grove looked on Monday morning.
I had a fine day cutting, but it was too dark by the time I quit to take any “after” photos.
Wednesday morning was absolutely beautiful. You can see below what I accomplished on Monday and what lay ahead for the day.
Chris worked the chainsaw and Austin swung the brush cutter and we got after it!
Last winter both Andy Buchta and I got horrible, blistering rashes (which I spread to Pati!), after working with the brush we cut in the buckthorn alley. I was suspicious about this tree (the one in front below) and stopped Chris to ask what it was.
He explained that it was poison sumac and advised against cutting or even touching it. That reminded me of the time that DNR Trail Boss, Don Dane, made a point of taking Lindsay and I over to an area near the boat doc at Ottawa Lake to emphatically show us what poison sumac looked like, and warn us to steer clear of it. Well, you tried Don, and it took a nasty bout with poison sumac last year to teach me a lesson. I cut a couple of poison sumacs on the north side of the Ottawa Lake Fen SNA, but no more.
Chris and Austin at work.
There is a very nice trail along the east shore of Ottawa Lake that passes beneath the campgrounds and the walk-in sites #335 and #334 and continues to the north side of the Ottawa Lake Fen SNA. The views from this trail are going to get prettier as we continue clearing the buckthorn from the trail. My dream is to eventually create a trail around the west side of the fen to connect to the boat landing on the southwest side of Ottawa Lake. I think that would be awesome!
I hope you enjoyed the marvelous stretch of blessed Fall weather we recently experienced here in Southeastern Wisconsin as much as I did.
I chose to camp in late October at Ottawa Lake site #335, aka My Shangri-la, back in January because I wanted to enjoy the 5th annual Halloween Bash, and the event turned out to be magical indeed.
The campground was almost full Saturday evening for the climax of the festivities and a crescent moon hung over the lake. As Pati and I strolled amongst the fantasmicgorically decorated campsites, we were occasionally startled by ghoulish outbursts piercing the sweetly scented campfire smoke.
The pumpkin carving was exquisite again this year.
It was pure good fun, except for the premature report of the demise of the Buckthorn man, which I found very disconcerting.
Contrary to the epitaph above, I had a super productive week working on the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail and the Ottawa Lake Fen SNA. I setup camp on Monday October 20th…
… then proceeded with my empty truck to the gravel pile Anne Korman (Assistant Superintendent of the Kettle Moraine State Forest — Southern Unit) had directed us to.
There were a few spots on the trail that tended to puddle and I filled them with stone.
Back at camp I enjoyed a dinner of fresh vegetables, stir-fried with the Buckthorn Man’s secret recipe curry brown lentils and wild rice.
On Tuesday and Wednesday I began clearing buckthorn and honeysuckle on the south side of a channel that drains a spring that emerges from a ditch just below Hwy 67.
Here is the view before I got started standing on the shoulder of Hwy 67 and looking towards Ottawa Lake.
People I meet on the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail tell me that they used to be able to see Ottawa Lake from the highway. Now, the only way you could possibly do that is via the drainage shown above. I was determined to reopen this view as a tease to draw people into exploring this beautiful area. At the end of the day on Wednesday, I followed the drainage up expecting to see the water emerging from a culvert that drains wetlands on the northeast side of Hwy 67. Instead, the culvert was dry and I found the source was a bubbling spring on the west side of the highway.
On Thursday I took a day off, sort of, sharpening my chains in camp and later meeting Ben Johnson at the Hotel Springs to work on positioning a boardwalk that we had relocated to the cut-off trail. The rain didn’t dampen our spirits one bit! It was a pleasure to have Ben over to the campsite for dinner afterwards and we dried our butts off by the fire.
Lindsay Knudsvig joined me on Friday and we began clearing the north side of the channel that flows from the spring I “discovered” on Wednesday. Ottawa Lake is fed by many springs and I think this one may be the most substantial. Here are a couple views after we finished for the day.
There is a massive, pre-settlement, white oak near the spring’s channel.
Unfortunately, Lindsay could not stay for dinner, but Pati came out and we enjoyed the sunset and campfire.
There is an embankment on the north side of the channel that extends out to where the water joins the pond that is at the center of the Ottawa Lake Fen. There are excellent views south, west and north from this vantage point.
On Saturday I started to clear the buckthorn from both sides of this embankment. Here is what it looked like before I got started (looking left, then right).
I finished the left side on Saturday and began clearing the debris from the channel with the intention of getting a current flowing all the way to the union with the fen pond. That evening Pati returned to stay a couple nights with me and it was sweet.
On Sunday morning we took a nice walk around the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail waiting for the day to warm up and then we headed to where the Scuppernong River passes under Hwy Z to do our last river monitoring of the year. You can view the data we collected in 2014 at the Water Action Volunteers site by searching by site (Scuppernong River at Count Hwy Z) and specifying the date range of April thru November and the “select all parameters” button.
In the last post I made the bold and unsubstantiated assertion that: “We do not see the diversity of macroinvertebrates typically found on stoney, sandy, bottom riverbeds…”, in the muck and marl filled stretches of the headwaters of the Scuppernong River. So, Pati and I repeated the same biotic index study we did at Hwy Z as part of our river monitoring, at four locations in the Scuppernong River headwaters where the DNR is planning to remove material to enable the river to headcut. We investigated the areas just upstream from where the changes will be made. Here is what we found (refer to this link to see pictures of the Macroinvertebrates):
Where the Scuppernong River crosses Hwy Z, which has a stoney and sandy riverbed:
Aquatic Sow Bug
Amphipod or Scud
Giant Water Bug
Riffle Beetle Larva
Now, at the four sites in the headwaters. First at the Old Mill site:
Aquatic Sow Bug
Crawling Water Beetle
Amphipod or Scud
Predaceous Diving Beetle
Riffle Beetle Larva
At the Hotel Spring Bridge site:
Aquatic Sow Bug
Amphipod or Scud
Nematode of Threadworm
Riffle Beetle Larva
At the bridge to the Hidden Spring site:
Aquatic Sow Bug
Amphipod or Scud
Nematode of Threadworm
Predaceous Diving Beetle
And finally, at the first bridge to the Hillside Springs:
Aquatic Sow Bug
Amphipod or Scud
Riffle Beetle Larva
I think it is fair to say that I was wrong to conclude that there was not the same diversity of macroinvertebrates in the headwaters area, where the riverbed is generally full of muck and marl, as further downstream, like at Hwy Z, where the riverbed is stoney and sandy. I did have to literally drag the net through the muck and marl in the headwaters to get the samples so it may be the case the the macroinvertebrates there are not as accessible to the trout as they are in the areas downstream that are stoney and sandy. In any case, we will continue to collect data in the headwaters at the sites listed above next spring, before any changes are made to remove material from the former embankments, and continue to collect data after the changes are made.
Sunday evening we finished dinner early and raced over to the Indian Campgrounds to catch the sunset.
And finally, this past Monday, I finished clearing the buckthorn along both sides of the embankment that follows the Ottawa Lake Spring channel to its entrance to the fen pond.
One Last view from the highway.
I also pulled out a lot more junk from the spring channel including: a car tire, one 5 gallon bucket, three 1 gallon plastic plant containers, bottles, cans, logs, planks and deck boards. Walk with me as I follow the channel from the fen up to its source at the spring. There is a bit of drama halfway through when I get stuck in muck up to my chest and let a few choice words fly.
Last but not least, I captured these images of the brush piles that Andy Buchta made on the east side of Ottawa Lake in the area that I cleared last month when I camped at My Shangri-La. Thanks Andy!