I took a break from The Springs this past week and joined forces with other teams of land stewards to help them on their restoration adventures. I was accompanied by Jules Verne, via A Journey to the Interior of the Earth, and the fearless professor Lidenbrock, his thoughtful nephew Axel, and their imperturbable guide Hans.
It was through the character of the unflappable Hans that Verne revealed the essence of the great eastern philosophies. Surrender completely to the present moment. Of all moments past and future, the present moment is the very best; the key to being enlightened.
My journey through the Kettle Moraine began last Tuesday when I helped the DNR burn the Hwy 67 East Horse Trail.
Burn boss Don Dane conferring with line the line bosses Brian and Paul.
Staging at the “anchor”.
The predominately northwest winds were strong — on the edge of the prescription — and the DNR team was extremely careful to lay down extensive black zones on the downwind perimeter of the burn unit beginning at point 6 on the map above.
We finally tied in the lines along Hwy 67 and then the north line team ignited a raging head fire driving flames 20′ high.
I was south of the tree line and missed the show but I did see Paul Sandgren light off the southeast edge of the horse trail.
The burn was a great success!
On Wednesday I joined Natalie Dorrier and her group from Nature’s Classroom Institute shoring up a bank of the Mukwonago River on the north end of what was the Rainbow Springs golf course. Last year, the DNR Fisheries Team, led by Ben Heussner, removed 7 culverts from this stretch of the river. I blackened in a little spot on the northeast section of the map below, where there is a fork in the river, to indicate the area that we worked in.
Rainbow Springs Lake.
The golf course reverting back to nature.
Dick Jenks poisoning buckthorn that he cut the day before. This was the source for the brush used to help stabilize the bank.
We cut more buckthorn along the south side of the river shown above until we ran out of stump poison.
Below is the river bank showing the work they accomplished on Tuesday and where we would continue.
Natalie marshaling her forces.
Passing brush across the river.
We extended the brush line all the way to the rocks where the river forks.
They warmed my heart with a cheer for The Buckthorn Man.
After the work was done, I wandered the property exploring a route that Dick suggested. When I see a beautiful piece of land like this scarred by a golf course, it makes me wish the game had never been invented.
On Thursday I joined: Herb Sharpless (the organizer), representing the Kettle Moraine Land Trust, Volunteers from the Lauderdale Lakes Improvement Association, and Camp Charles Allis, Students from Elkhorn High School and, last but not least, Eric Tarman-Ramcheck , who grew up on this property — to work on the Beulah Bluff Preserve. We focused on the hill immediately below the old homestead site overlooking Upper Beulah Lake to the south.
The students alternated between different tasks including: water quality testing, brush piling, stump treatment and learning how geology and prescribed burning shape the landscape. Herb provided an overview of the project and then we got after it.
Brush dragging and piling.
The Buckthorn Man, Ginny Coburn and Eric got in some good licks with their chainsaws on the steep hillside.
The view towards Upper Beulah Lake.
Who knows, maybe one or more of the young people there will be inspired to continue this restoration work, which is sorely needed.
After we wrapped up at the Beulah Bluff Preserve, I headed up to The Springs to pull some garlic mustard. I was stunned when I came around the bend on Hwy 67 and saw that the forest of towering, girdled, black locust, hulks on the south side of the Scuppernong Springs Nature Preserve property, had been laid waste.
The highway department was worried that any of these trees might fall across the road and they coordinated with Paul Sandgren, Superintendent of the Kettle Moraine State Forest–Southern Unit, to bring in contractors to remove them. They closed Hwy 67 on Wednesday to be safe. Steve Tabat was hard at work bucking up rounds of black locust when I got there. He has been cutting timber in the Kettle Moraine forests since the 1970’s — a real pro.
They plan to take down the black locust that I recently girdled in the area where westbound Hwy ZZ leaves Hwy 67 in the very near future. These are very positive steps in the restoration of the property!
Light showers fell as I took a walk around the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail.
New life in old burn rings.
Green algae invades the Emerald Spring. Is this the same species that gave this spring its name?
Brave Marsh Marigolds are blooming.
See you at The Springs!