Idle No More

Hi.  Thanks again for checking out the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail Posts!

Before I get into today’s incredible adventure at the Springs, I want to shine a light on the Idle No More movement.  I participated in their consciousness awakening event in Milwaukee yesterday and it was very moving.  The singing and speakers were excellent.  The First People elders spoke a lot about the responsibility we all share to take care of the land in preparation for the 7th generation to come, and to be aware that we are the beneficiaries of the love and care of the 7th generation that preceded us.

Here is audio recorded before the march Idle No More January 18, 2013 Pre March Song and Speeches.

We marched down to Veterans Park, where a Pipe Ceremony was held and there was more singing and speeches.  Action on a new mining bill in Wisconsin is heating up!

The other big issue raised is the struggle for sovereignty.

I found Kevin Annett’s documentary Unrepentant: Canada’s Genocide, while researching the Idle No More movement.

And we think we have invasive species problems!  Image how the indigenous people felt about the White European Invaders!

In honor of the Native, Indigenous, First People, we sowed a mix of 20+ Wet Mesic Prairie plant seeds around the Indian Spring and areas to the North marked in white on the map below.


Here is part of the area seen from the Scenic Overlook on the old Indian Campground site.


And a bit closer up.

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Sowing seed is the creme dela creme of restoration work.  I will post a list of all the different plants in the mix and we’ll try to identify as they emerge.

The Scuppernong River water level is holding steady at .026.


Here is an interesting bit of machinery we found near the site of the Marl Plant.  This Spring we’ll do a little excavating around this to see what it is attached to.


After the seed was sown Lindsay and I headed over to the cutoff trail to continue cutting Buckthorn where I left off last time.  Here are some before shots; the first two are looking to the North on the cutoff trail at an old cranberry bog.

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Below we are looking South, towards the river.IMG_0528 IMG_0529 IMG_0530

Around 2:00pm Rich Csavoy joined us and Don Dane, the DNR trail boss, stopped by to drop off more seeds (for more wooded uplands) and we all took a walk around the place reviewing the progress and future plans.  Don is hoping to mow the Indian Campground this coming week.  We cut a bit more after our visit with Don and here is the final result.  The first picture below is looking at the cranberry bog and the next two are looking South towards the river.


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The view of the work site from the main trail on the South side of the river.


It was a glorious sunset; one of the best I’ve ever see at the Springs.

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See you at the Springs!

Fire On The Dunes

Today was a gloriously beautiful day at the Springs and I felt very lucky to serve the Creator.  Yes, THE CREATOR!  I think I’m becoming a Deist, and you might consider it too, if you had just read Thomas Paine’s The Age Of Reason.  What a tour de force!

The ground water flow meter, aka stream gaging station, has been installed!  I’m assuming it was Hydrogeologist Mike Parsen, from the Wisconsin Geological & Natural History Survey, and/or his team that did the work.  It looks very cool.  I don’t know if it is “online” yet, there is no data reported for the Scuppernong River at the USGS Water Watch site yet (thanks to John Hrobar for that link).  We’ll keep an eye on it.

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We had clear skies, and steady winds out of the West; perfect conditions for burning brush piles on the Sand Dunes where the First People once made their campgrounds.  I was glad to have Rich Csavoy’s help and we burned another 44 piles.

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As we get the brush cut, piled and burned, new vistas are opening up.  Here you can see the Scuppernong River and the Marl Pit bridge from the Scenic Overlook.


And now you can see the Indian Spring from the overlook as well.


I loaded the gear in my truck, slipped into some dry boots, and made my way back via the newly cleared cutoff trail to enjoy the sunset.

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See you at the Springs!


Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

We called ourselves the “River Rats”.  With our Blue Dolphin canoe loaded with a chainsaw, pruning saw, rake and garbage bags, we were determined to make the Bark River from Hartland to Lake Nagawicka navigable for canoes and litter free.  Mark Mamerow and I took many work trips down the Bark and, after 7 years, its a really nice paddle.  In his new book “The Bark River Chronicles – Stories from a Wisconsin Watershed”, Milton J. Bates describes our stretch of the Bark River in Chapter 5.  Mr. Bates tells the story of The Hartland Marsh in great detail and even mentions Pati and I.  Although he doesn’t mention Mark by name, he does comment on the great improvements to the river in this stretch since his last visit in the 1990s.  Thanks Mark! 


Check out About Paul for more info about the Hartland Marsh project.  Here is a map of the Bark River in the Hartland Marsh area.

That being said, it was great to connect with Mark again today as we burned 50 more piles at the Scuppernong Springs.  The morning was crisp and cold.


Just beyond the row of 12 brush piles you can see below is a remnant of a sedge meadow.


Our DNR friends Don and Amanda gave us a huge bag of seeds, with over 20 varieties suitable for a Wet Mesic Prairie setting, that we plan to sow in the area around the Indian Springs and in other locations.  The transition from Buckthorn thicket to natural prairie or wetland includes a lot of steps and burning the brush piles is one of my favorites.

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We lit another dozen piles farther down the outflow channel of the Indian Springs, closer to where it joins the Scuppernong River.

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The conditions were perfect so we moved to the West side of the Indian Campground Sand Dune and lit another bunch of piles.  By 11:00am we had 50 piles started and we began the mop up process.

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You can see the outflow channel of the Indian Spring below from the Scenic Overlook.IMG_0384 IMG_0385 IMG_0386 IMG_0387

Snow started falling around 4:00pm and it was coming down pretty good by the time I left.  Since there wasn’t much of a sunset today, here is a great shot taken by Tighe House a couple weeks ago.

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See you at the Springs!

Fire In The Sky

It was the coldest morning of the year and the setting moon’s light brilliantly contrasted the deep blue cloudless sky as I made my way to the Indian Springs.  I’ve been meaning to get some pictures of the “Monster Spring“, as the locals used to call it, in a morning light.

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The “Monster”


Here is one of the Hillside Springs.


It’s been a great year working out at the Springs and I want to thank Pati, Lindsay, Rich, Mark, John, Sue, Thomas, Chakry, Sriram, Don, Ron, Paul, Anne, Amanda and everyone else who lent a hand or showed support.

The coolest thing that happened to me this past year was my rediscovery of Philosophy thanks to my good friends at Tragedy And Hope.  It’s never too late, nor too early, nor too often to study Philosophy.

Today though, we are interested in Physics.


The conditions were perfect for burning brush piles and I was able to light 34.  In half of those I just poked my torch into the center of the pile instead of doing the usual chainsaw work to create a consolidated pile to ignite.

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The view from the scenic overlook.


And the Marl Pit Bridge.


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Here is a video of the sunset taken from the scenic overlook.

See you at the Springs!

Light My Fire

My pictures don’t do justice to the beauty of the hoar frost that covered the trees this morning when I arrived at the Springs.  It was cold and my fingers were freezing as I took these pics.

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This was taken from the Marl Pit bridge and shows the hillside above the Indian Springs where we planned to burn.

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Here is a closer look at the piles we planned to light up.

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The conditions were perfect.  A light but steady wind out of West and clear skies.  Lindsay and Pati came out to help and enjoy the beautiful day.


Below you can see where the two forks of the Indian Springs outflow merge on their way to the Scuppernong River.

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Lindsay used a leave blower to help jump start the fires when they needed a blast of air and it worked pretty darn good.

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The view from the Marl Pit bridge. You can see where the channel from the Indian Springs joins the river.


We burned 22 piles today and I think we have 3-4 more day’s work to finish the piles in this area.  I had to leave early so Pati and Lindsay handled the mop up operations. Thanks!

See you at the Springs!

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…”.

Old Friends, New Friends

I had the pleasure of the company of Rich Csavoy and Randy Shilling today.  Rich found out about the project via Amanda Prange, DNR Visitor Services Associate, Seed Gather and Volunteer Coordinator extraordinaire.  He practically lives next door and noticed the changes happening at the Springs.  Rich is skilled with the chain saw and brush pile making and burning and he is a hard-working man.  Welcome Rich!

Randy and I used to work together at Northwestern Mutual.  He turns wood on his lathe and when he heard that there was some Red Oak, Cherry and Hickory available, he came out and got a truckload today.  I can’t wait to see some of his handiwork.  Here are a few shots of Randy and a short interview.

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Meanwhile, Rich and I worked on preparing brush piles by the Indian Springs.  On November 10th, some of my old friends from Northwestern Mutual (I retired last February) are coming out to help Lindsay and I pile so Rich and I organized the chaos by starting piles.  This will make the work go much easier on Saturday.

As we finished up this area, Randy joined us and we proceeded downstream a bit along the Indian Spring outflow channel and we made 10-12 piles amongst the Gray Willow, Buckthorn and other brush I recently cut there.  We had a lot of fun!

I gathered some Water Cress for my juicer.

Sundown by the Marl Pit bridge.

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.

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.