Pati and I met Dr. Jim Meeker, and his wife Joan Elias, when their neighbors, Greg Legault and Janette Christie (Legault), introduced us on the memorably challenging, private, cross country ski trails they had woven across their adjoining properties in Gurnee, Wisconsin. We began renting Greg’s cozy cabin back in the early 90’s and I remember how starstruck Pati was when we met Jim, who already had a reputation for the manoomin, aka wild-rice, research he had done in the Bad River’s Kakagon Sloughs.
Jim and Greg at the South Point Banyan Tree house
One of Jim’s best pictures of the Kakagon Sloughs
Jim and Joan befriended us and we stayed in touch over the years. Pati and I were truly saddened when we heard that Jim had “walked on” (see page 10 in this issue of Mazina’igan, or expand the article shown below.)
I felt lucky and blessed to be in Gurnee on March 21 for the Memorial Service and Celebration of Jim’s Life (Pati had a business commitment in South Africa.) Here are a couple of testimonials:
Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission is grateful for Dr. Meeker’s many contributions as a former staff member, scientist, teacher and mentor, but mostly as a very gentle, approachable human-being, filled with kindness and concern for all living creatures, but especially those plant-beings!
or, this from the Northland College Magazine (see page 8)
A professor of botany and natural resources, Jim shared his passion for the outdoors with students in the classroom, field and laboratory. Jim fostered an inter-disciplinary approach to solving problems and used an experiential pedagogy before those approaches were being promoted within higher education.
Jim loved to share what he learned from nature: “It’s time to go for a walk!”
One of Jim and Joan’s favorite places in the neighborhood: Potato Falls.
That is the upper falls above cascading over multiple tiers, and below we see the lower falls.
I got a real treat when I met a team of kayakers who had just run the upper falls!
Check out Jonathan Sisley’s run down the upper falls, which begins around 1:00 into this video (thanks for sharing this Jonathan!)
Back at The Springs, there was buckthorn to cut and pile. Andy Buchta stacked all the brush I laid down near the marl factory.
I continued clearing the areas on both sides of the trail a couple hundred yards from the parking lot on Hwy ZZ, in what used to be, The Buckthorn Alley.
Tuesday I focused on the left side of the trail…
…and cut many a buckthorn, though it’s hard to tell (below, same three views after.)
On Thursday I continued cutting on both the right and left sides of the trail (below, before cutting, looking right, then left.)
Below, the same three views after a 6 tanks of gas in the chain saw.
Ben Johnson joined me after work to help rake out and rehabilitate the burn rings/scars from the last brush pile burning season. The skunk cabbage is emerging.
Believe it or not I was back at it on Saturday. I’m trying to cut as much buckthorn as I can while it’s still dormant. Andy is following close behind piling the brush. Thanks Andy!
Ben has been helping Anne Korman, Assistant Superintendent KMSF – Southern Unit, work on a plan to make the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail handicap accessible from the parking lot to the Hotel Spring and we had a date to review project. The removal of the bridge by the Hotel Spring has opened up some new perspectives on how to route the trail. Anne, and her boss Paul Sandgren, scoped out the situation and they are seriously considering building the new bridge over the river at the old sawmill site at signpost #12. The new trail would follow the berm that formed the lower pond.
This would be a beautiful spot to cross the river, with the added bonus that the east bank of the old bridge site, which has some very unique springs and flora, would be allowed to return to a natural state. The DNR Water Regulations and Zoning engineers will have a say in the matter for sure.
While Ben moved boardwalks and cleared a trail along the berm, I continued cutting buckthorn on the left side of the trail, where I left off last time.
That is how it looked before I got started. Andy joined me and piled tons of buckthorn while I cut.
I can’t wait to see how these wetlands respond in the absence of the buckthorn cover!
Ben and I had an excellent adventure exploring the northeast corner of the Scuppernong Springs Nature Preserve and then we took a tour.
I’m excited to share that the Natural Resources Foundation has added the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail to their 2015 Field Trip Schedule.
See you at The Springs!
p.s. Thanks to Mark Miner for monitoring bluebird houses!