Firewood, Wood for Artists and Water Cress

As Lindsay and I begin brush piling in earnest, we are reminded that there is a lot of wood at the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail that would be better used to heat someone’s home, than simply consumed in a burning brush pile.  Lindsay burns wood to heat his home but there is no way he could use all the wood that is available.  So, I’m cautiously advertising here that there is excellent firewood available, mostly Black Locust, but some Red Oak as well.  Of course there is a ton of Buckthorn too, and I know people who have had success with this type of wood in their furnaces.

You will need to get a permit to collect firewood at the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail from the DNR.   I have reviewed this with DNR Forester, Mike Seeger, and he was very supportive.  There is a DNR, two-track, access road that will take you very close to the wood sources.

Forest Headquarters
S91 W39091 Highway 59
Eagle, WI 53119

I mentioned in a previous post that there is an excellent assortment of Red Oak, Hickory and Cherry trees that are ready for you to take home and “turn” into works of Art.  The trees range from 8″ to 16″ in diameter and 10′ to 30′ long and all side branches have been pruned.  The artist would probably want to cut the pieces to the length desired at the site and then haul them out with a wagon, or something, to where they could be picked up via the aforementioned DNR access road.  We have one interested person so far, but again, there is a lot of wood available.

Please contact me prior to getting any wood so I can meet you out there to review the situation.

We pulled a lot of Water Cress from the Scuppernong River this past Spring and Summer.  It is impossible to completely eliminate cress unless you take extreme measures, and the cress has returned in many places along the river.  When DNR Fish Biologist Ben Heussner visited the site he reminded us that some cress is OK, and the trout like it.  With that in mind, we are not going to try to completely remove the Water Cress from the Scuppernong River.  Instead, we’ll simply make sure that it does not impede the flow of the water, as it was prior to our recent efforts, and that it does start taking over any area.

There are many places between the Scuppernong Spring and the Hotel Spring where fresh patches of Water Cress have returned.  This is young, sweet cress that would go perfectly in your salad or juicer.  I encourage you to go out and harvest some Water Cress to help us keep it under control and for your own health benefits.  You might want to wear knee high rubber boots, but there is a lot of cress available along the edge of the river.  We have cleared a path through the cattail and phragmites along the river, that is pretty dry, to make it easy to follow its course.  Please help your selves to some Water Cress!

See you at the Springs!

Another Spring Opened Up

The Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail is full of treasures waiting to be discovered.  Yesterday I continued cutting the Phragmites on the West side of the River just North of the second bridge ( Phragmites Invades the Springs ) and sure enough, there is a beautiful little spring there under this mat of cress and phragmites.

A couple pictures before I continued cutting the phragmites.

Below, after cutting and cleaning out the spring…  This bubbler is just beyond the boardwalk that the Wisconsin Conservation Corps put in back in the 1930s so this spot was recognized long back as one of the scenic attractions of the Springs.

Below is the channel flowing out of the spring shown above toward the River.  I was not able to finish clearing the channel all the way to River.  We will need a shovel to finish excavating it as it has become filled with silt over the years.

On July 9th Lindsay finished opening the channel to the River.

He found another little spring shown on the left below.

Thanks Lindsay!

I finished cutting the Phragmites in this area.

Below are a few more pictures of the area around the second bridge (counting from the very first spring at the head of the valley).

Looking out from the bridge over the River that is just up the trail from the Marl Pits.

The little Oaks growing in the understory are being attacked by Leaf Minor.  We are keeping an eye on this to see if it is affecting any of the mature trees.

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.

Water Cress Chokes Scuppernong River

When I first started working at the Springs, I used to harvest the Water Cress to put in my juicer.  That was before Don Dane and Tim Peters, from the DNR, explained that the cress was an invasive species and detrimental to the health of the Scuppernong River.  As you can see below, it was pretty darn thick.

Don and Tim explained that the cress was slowing down the water flow allowing the water to warm up, which is not good for the native brook trout.  It’s pretty tough to swim through a water cress dam!  The cress caused the water level to rise and spill over the boundaries of the river bed creating more of a marsh than would normally be there.

Armed with this understanding, Lindsay and I have been pulling water cress from the river since late March and now the river is flowing fast and free again.  The water level has fallen by at least 8″ and the river has settled back into its original bed.  In the process we “discovered” numerous feeder springs that were also completely choked with water cress.  So instead of flowing directly into the river, the water was absorbed into the hillside.  Here are a few examples of feeder springs that we opened up.

We are brush cutting the phragmites and canary reed grass (invasive species) that line the river and planning strategies to eliminate them.

The goal is to restore the headwaters of the Scuppernong River to a cold, fast-flowing stream that will attract fish and create a more natural setting for native wetland plants.

The Springs!

Welcome to the home of the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail.  In partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Kettle Moraine Natural History Association, we began in May 2011 the process of restoring the natural area around the trail.  This includes cutting, piling, poisoning and burning buckthorn, honeysuckle and various other invasive species to more fully respect the beauty of this land.  We are also pulling water cress from the Scuppernong River to restore it to a cold, fast flowing stream and also to unclog all of the feeder springs so their waters will flow directly into the river instead of getting soaked up in the banks.

The Springs are the headwaters for the Scuppernong River and, per Ron Kurowski, the 40 year DNR veteran naturalist who spearheaded the Scuppernong River Habitat Restoration Area project, “It’s a World Class Site!”.