Don’t miss the Kettle Moraine Natural History Association’s annual meeting at 10:30am on Saturday, April 5, 2014 at the Kettle Moraine State Forest-Southern Unit Headquarters, located 3 miles west of Eagle on Hwy 59. We couldn’t do the work we do at The Springs without the support of the KMNHA! Come and see what this great organization is all about.
Conservation Biologist Matthew Zine, Bureau of Natural Heritage Conservation (formerly the Bureau of Endangered Resources), will present a program on “State Natural Areas in the Kettle Moraine”. The program will cover the 12 State Natural Areas found throughout the area of the Southern Kettle Moraine and describe their special qualities and their management concerns.
This program is open to all members and their guests (If anyone asks, tell them The Buckthorn Man sent you.) Membership applications are available at the State Forest Headquarters.
A short business meeting will follow the program.
Refreshments will be served and door prizes awarded.
The brush pile burning season at The Springs is finally over and, unfortunately, Matt Wilhelm, a volunteer with the North Prairie Fire Department, who also works for the DNR in the Kettle Moraine State Forest–Southern Unit, had to put out the last fire. I was wandering around the sand prairie watching the sun go down, and Marty driving his skid steer loader north, home bound on Hwy 67, when I saw the lights of his 4-wheeler heading to the site where Dick Jenks, Rich Csavoy and l burned piles earlier in the day.
It was a calm night and there was no chance of any of the fires spreading, but the glowing embers from a few of the fires were visible from Hwy 67 and someone called it in. That prompted a call from Paul Sandgren, the Superintendent of the Kettle Moraine State Forest–Southern Unit, and he explained that the DNR was reviewing their prescribed burning procedures and that no more burning should be done until that review is complete. That’s OK with me, the conditions this past Sunday were a little dicey and we stopped lighting piles early because of our safety concerns. Thanks to Matt for completing the mop up!
We are looking for a wheelbarrow donation! If you have one, new or used, we’d like to leave it at The Springs near the buckthorn firewood piles that Dick Jenks is preparing.
I want to paint The Buckthorn Barrow on the sides and hopefully campers from Ottawa Lake will utilize it to haul the buckthorn firewood to their vehicles. Thanks Dick!
Sunday was a busy day at The Springs and I met many new and old friends. I was on my way to clear a large red oak that had fallen across the trail near the Emerald Springs (thanks to John Hrobar for notifying me!) when I met Lester Crisman. Check out his photos, including this beautiful shot of the river just upstream from the gaging station bridge.
I was soon joined by Dick and Rich and we commenced to prepping, lighting and tending brush piles along the north east rim of the loop trail between the old barn site and signpost #13.
Ben Johnson, and his wife Karen, stopped to visit on their tour of all the birdhouses to collect fresh GPS points. Ben was not satisfied with the accuracy of the data he got the first time around. Let us know if you spot any birds moving in!
As we broke for lunch, I happened to look up and see a line of flames spreading east into the woods from one of the brush piles. We put the creeping fires out quickly and focused on tending the burning piles from that point on.
As I was mopping up, I was greeted by the friendly faces of Mark Duerwachter and his daughter Karri. Mark is the son of Robert Duerwachter, the author of THE PONDS OF THE SCUPPERNONG and Karri helped Robert format and edit the book. Mark agreed to help me persuade Robert to meet me at The Springs for a video interview!
As I was taking my equipment back to my truck along the trail near the old barn site, I saw someone standing in the river. Who was that? I loaded my gear and drove over to the main parking lot on Hwy ZZ just in time to meet Scott C., the trout fisherman. That was the first time I saw anyone fishing in the river!
After chatting with Scott, I headed down the trail for my evening stroll.
When I got into the the upper river valley, I could hear the sound of Marty’s skid steer loader and I hastened to the south end of the trail hoping to talk with him about his plans to repair the damage done by his heavy machine. Marty, with lots of help from Carl Baumann, has been harvesting dead black locust trees for firewood.
I missed him and was surprised to see him from the sand prairie driving his machine slowly north on Hwy 67 to his home some 3 miles away. Marty called me last night and assured me that as soon as the frost is out of the ground and things dry up a bit, he will return to clean up the slash and repair the skid steer scars.
As I was watching the sun go down, I heard the call of a sand hill crane behind me to the east and turned to watch in amazement as two birds glided overhead not more than 20 feet above me. I watched hundreds of cranes lazily floating north in wave after wave all afternoon. It is remarkable to contrast the apparent effort exerted by cranes versus that of geese.
See you at The Springs!