I Left My Heart At Bluff Creek

I’ll always love the Scuppernong Springs, but there is an even prettier, more pristine, more remote complex of springs at the Bluff Creek State Natural Area.  There aren’t any noisy highways or bright lights nearby; just babbling waters emerging beneath old oaks in classic Kettle Moraine country.

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The headwaters of Bluff Creek are a Class I Trout Stream!


It was great to get back to work in the forest and the highlight of the week was returning to the Bluff Creek Springs with Zach Kastern, Jared Urban and the hard-working, dedicated State Natural Areas volunteers.


Zach had done some preliminary work cutting and piling and he arrived early to light the fires.


Soon we were all hard at work.  Thanks to Pati for these pics!

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We wrapped up the morning’s efforts around noon and munched on some Valentine donuts.

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A few of us continued working in the afternoon and here is how it looked at the end of the day.

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That was Chris Mann and Zach Kastern talking shop after we visited the springs on the north side of the ridge.  We hung out by the fire and watched the ducks and geese drift in for the night; it was blissful and none of us wanted to leave.  It’s very inspiring to work with a big group of volunteers like we had yesterday.  Lord knows we can’t rely on the arbitrary whims of the legislators in government to do the right thing by the land. 

I got back to work last Monday cutting buckthorn amongst the tamaracks on the north west side of the Ottawa Lake Fen SNA.  I can’t wait to see the tamaracks sans buckthorn this spring!


Here is the view from the pond.

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The Buckthorn intertwines with the tamarack and kills it.


It will take a few more days to finish clearing this grove.

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Ottawa lake sunset.


On Wednesday, I got back to The Springs to cut and burn buckthorn just down the trail from signpost #2.  Here is how it looked before I got started.


I’m standing by my sled, which you can see in the picture above, for the next two shots.IMG_4887 IMG_4886

I’m really looking forward to clearing this stretch of buckthorn between signpost #2 and the marl pit factory so that you’ll be able to see across the Scuppernong River Habitat Area to the Kettle Moraine ridges to the south.

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Looking back up the trail towards signpost #2.


By the time I dropped my gear off at the truck and changed into some dry boots, the sun was already down.

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See you at The Springs!

Sexy Buckthorn

Who new?  Cutting Buckthorn is SEXY!


The Buckthorn Man was raised Catholic, so it’s no wonder he didn’t find out.


Yeah, that was me back when I was just learning how to use my chainsaw.

So, when and where did The Buckthorn Man learn the “facts of life”?  You won’t believe it.  It was this past Tuesday, in the Village of Hartland’s Village Board meeting room!  Kevin Thusius, Director of Land Conservation with the Ice Age Trail Alliance, explained that everyone knows it is sexy to cut big buckthorn with a chainsaw, but not so glamorous to do the maintenance required to keep the resprouts and seedlings from resurging.  Ah, ha! now I understand that funny feeling I get when I pull the cord and my chainsaw springs to life…

It was an exciting meeting to say the least.  Kevin is working on a plan, in conjunction with the Village of Hartland, the Waukesha County Land Conservancy, the DNR, and private landowners, to preserve the work I did at the Hartland Marsh from 2004 – 2011.  It’s too bad I didn’t realize how sexy those times were: if only I knew then, what I know now.  I’ll keep you posted as things develop at the Hartland Marsh.

Well, I could hardly contain my enthusiasm this past week as I returned to the east shore of the Ottawa Lake Fen State Natural Area to have a go with some very attractive buckthorn.  I laced my chaps up tight, dabbed a bit of bar oil on my face and neck, wore my helmet cocked stylishly to the left (which I know buckthorn can’t resist), and plunged my chainsaw into the thicket…

Here is how it looked this past Wednesday before the orgy began.

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I was soon joined by my randy buddies, Chris, Austin and Andy.

We had a very satisfying day whacking, piling and burning buckthorn.



As you can image, we couldn’t get enough of that hot buckthorn, and we returned on Thursday to find them ready and willing.

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Chris found this old automobile and got in the backseat with a shapely buckthorn!


By the end of the day, I was spent…

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Sparks were flying.  I think this is the real thing!

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See you at The Springs!