Super Friends of the Scuppernong Springs

2013 was a fantastic year at The Springs. Here are highlights from the perspective of all the Super Friends♥ of the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail. We don’t have a normal friends group; no, we have Super Friends♥



scuppernong nature trail(photo by Tighe House)

We burned a lot of brush piles on the south side of the Indian Spring and all across the Indian Campground, aka, the Sand Prairie.  My old friend from “The Quiet Company”, Mark Mamerow, was a big help.

The USGS installed a ground water flow meter at what I now call the “gaging station” bridge and Rich Csavoy and Lindsay Knudsvig were very active helping burn 173 brush piles.

Lindsay, Rich and I cut and piled buckthorn between the cut-off trail and river.  DNR trail boss, and jack-of-all-trades, Don Dane, provided native flower and grass seeds that we sowed near the Indian Spring.

Lindsay, Pati and I began our Journey Down the Scuppernong River in an effort to become more intimately familiar with the Scuppernong River Habitat Area.



We continued exploring the Scuppernong River hiking the frozen, snow covered, banks from Hwy N all the way to Hwy 59.


The powers that be relented and I got a window of opportunity to burn the brush piles I had left behind at the Hartland Marsh.  I couldn’t have done it without the help of my friends from the Ice Age Trail Alliance, Pat Witkowski, Mike Fort, John Mesching, Marlin Johnson, Glenn Ritz, Jack, Dick and the maintenance crew from the Village of Hartland.  We lit over 300 piles during the month on many workdays.

Carl Baumann and Rich Csavoy helped cut buckthorn between the cut-off trail and the river.  I hope to work with these righteous dudes again soon!

Steve Brasch, Carl, Lindsay and I had a couple of brush pile burning adventures and Lindsay showed me the value of having a leaf blower handy to ignite a smoldering pile.

Pati and I continued our investigation of the Scuppernong River watershed following the outflow from McKeawn Spring to the river on a gorgeously warm winter day.

One of the most memorable days of the year was with the DNR Fisheries team of Ben “Benny” Heussner, Steve “Gos” Gospodarek, Andrew Notbohm and Josh Krall (right to left below, “Double D” Don Dane kneeing in front) as they reviewed their past efforts to rehabilitate the river and formed plans for the coming year.  They made good on their promise returning for two workdays on the river, most recently with a crew from the South Eastern Wisconsin Trout Unlimited group.



Pati, and I and Lindsay continued our Journey Down the Scuppernong River hiking from Hwy 59 to Hwy 106.  We attempted the last leg from Hwy 106 to where the Scuppernong River joins the Bark River south of Hebron, but we were foiled by melting ice.


I continued clearing brush between the cut-off trail and the river and was glad to have the help of Boy Scout Troop 131, from Fort Atkinson to help pile it up.


Lindsay and I were honored to jointly receive the Land Steward of the Year Award from the Oak Savanna Alliance for our work at the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail.  I continued investigating the Scuppernong River watershed hiking the Paradise Springs Creek from it’s source to it’s confluence with the river.

Steve, Lindsay, myself and Carl had a classic brush pile burning day in the area around the Scuppernong Spring and shared a few cold brews afterwards.


I began volunteering with Jared Urban and the DNR’s Endangered Resources team and met great people like Virginia Coburn, Zach Kastern and Herb Sharpless.

Dave Hoffman and Matt Zine secured a $75,000 NAWCA grant for the DNR to continue the work on the Scuppernong River Habitat Area that Ron Kurowski had championed for over 20 years.


We began clearing brush in the area around the Old Hotel and Barn sites near the Hotel Springs.  Rich Csavoy, Pati and I continued to clear the brush between the cut-off trail and the river; this time on the far east end.

John and Sue Hrobar (shown with Don Dane below), the “Keepers of the Springs”, began to report that they were not seeing as many brook trout as they had in previous years and attributed this to our removing too much water cress the previous spring.  Indeed, Ben Heussner had warned us that the trout relied on this invasive plant for food (bugs) and cover.


DNR wunderkind, Amanda Prange, her boyfriend Justin, his mother Beth, Roberta “Berta” Roy-Montgomery and DNR Ranger Elias Wilson (who would save my life 3 weeks later!) joined me for a day installing prothonotary warbler houses and piling brush.


Rich, Berta and I began girdling aspen.  This was new for me and now I realize we were a bit early.

Rich and I began spraying weeds like garlic mustard and spotted knapweed.  I started having misgivings about using poisons in this delicate ecosystem.

I began working in the Buckthorn Alley.

Pati, Lindsay and I made the final leg of Journey Down the Scuppernong River via canoe and were sorely disappointed to contrast this stretch of the river to those preceding.

Jon Bradley contributed an excellent photo essay to this blog.



I began the month girdling aspen and working in the Buckthorn Alley.

The most exciting day of the year was when the DNR burned the Scuppernong.  It was memorable in every way but it almost began disastrously.  I was using a drip torch for the first time and it was leaking fuel badly from the rim of the cap.  DNR Ranger Elias Wilson noticed the danger immediately and calmly said: “Put the torch down Paul.”  Again, he repeated, with a little more emphasis: “Paul, put the torch down.”  Finally, I came to my senses and realized the danger too.  Thanks Elias, you saved my life!


This is probably a good place to thank Paul Sandgren, Superintendent of the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, Assistant Superintendent Anne Korman, Don Dane, Amanda Prange, Melanie Kapinos and all of the DNR staff, including retired naturalist, Ron Kurowski and the Kettle Moraine Natural History Association for all of their help and support.

Within a few weeks, flowers and grasses were emerging from the blackened earth and I kept busy girdling aspen along the river valley and piling brush from the Old Hotel site north to where the trail turns west away from Hwy 67.  Garret and Jenny interrupted their studies to help me pile brush and I hope to see them again sometime.


Spring was in full bloom and Rich helped me girdle aspen and pile brush between the cut-off trail and the river.  Ticks and mosquitoes where out in force and I got infected with lymes.



Amanda, Tara Fignar and Melanie pictured below, along with others including Jim Davee, Kay, Barb, Berta and Rich (see this blog) replaced all of the signposts that accompany the interpretive guide.  Don Dane made the new posts.


Jon Bradley built and installed this swallow house near the marl pit bridge and we are looking forward to the new tenants moving in this spring.


I continued volunteering with Jared Urban’s Endangered Resources team in Oak woodlands around Bald Bluff.  Jared, Zach and Gary are great teachers!


Jon Bradley contributed another excellent photo essay.


I sprayed Habitat/imazapyr on phragmites near the Emerald Spring and no life has returned there — maybe this spring.  I suspected it would be the last time I used this poison.  I switched strategies and began cutting invasive plant seed heads with a hedge trimmer, or I cut the entire plant with a brush cutter.


My lymes infection kicked into gear and I had a few miserable days.


Ben Heussner and the DNR Fisheries team returned to the Scuppernong River to lay down some bio-logs continuing their effort to improve the river channel.

I spent a few days working at the Hartland Marsh brush cutting along the boardwalks and mowing the trails.


I was still spraying poisons like Transline and Milestone on various invasive plants at The Springs and it bothered me. I cut a ton of huge, flowering, spotted knapweed plants with the brush cutter to prevent them from going to seed and also started digging them out.

Pati, Lindsay and I were very disconcerted when we completed out Journey Down the Scuppernong River in the Prince’s Point Wildlife Area and I followed up and got a guided tour from DNR veterans Charlie Kilian, the recently retired property manager, and Bret Owsley to better understand what was going on.


Ron Kurowski, retired DNR Naturalist and champion of the Scuppernong River Habitat Area restoration effort, met me at The Springs and helped me identify what was growing on the Sand Prairie and in other parts of the Scuppernong Springs Nature Preserve.


I was becoming more and more disillusioned with the idea of spraying poison on weeds ad infinitum and began looking for alternatives.  Late in the month I met Jason Dare, the real deal when it comes to ecosystem management, at The Springs.  He was doing an invasive plant survey for the DNR and I became painfully aware that I didn’t know what I was doing vis-a-vis spraying invasive plants with poison in that delicate ecosystem.


The Buddha said : “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear”.  It was Atina Diffley’s award winning memoir Turn Here Sweet Corn that finally opened my eyes and raised my organic consciousness.


I’m done spraying toxic poisons at The Springs, except for on freshly cut buckthorn, honey suckle and black locust stumps.

Ben Heussner had warned that our aggressive removal of water cress from the river in the spring of 2012 might impact the brook trout and John and Sue Hrobar observed that, indeed, they were seeing far fewer fish than in previous years.  We finally got some objective data when Craig Helker and his DNR team of water resources specialists, performed their annual fish count.  It was a fascinating day!  Below: Craig, me, Chelsea, Rachel, Shelly and Adam.


The fish counts were down significantly this year and I don’t doubt that it was a result of our removal of too much cover and food source from the river.  At the time we pulled the water cress, it had formed thick mats that damned the water flow raising the water table along the river by at least 6 inches.  I thought it was important to help re-establish the river channel, and the flora in the valley, to remove the water cress dams.  Until we can establish a native water plant, like Chara, which is in fact making a comeback, to replace the invasive water cress, we will allow the cress to thrive short of damning the river again.

I began attacking the phragmites and cattail that dominate the river valley with a hedge cutter loping off the maturing seed heads and leaving the emerging golden rod and asters undisturbed beneath them.


I learned to adjust my efforts to the plant life cycles and spent a lot of time pulling weeds by hand including: Canada Fleabane, American Burnweed (shown below), Common Ragweed , Queen Anne’s Lace  and Sweet Clover.


I wonder if I’ve bitten off more than I can chew attempting to eradicate invasive weeds at The Springs without using poison.  I take heart when I consider all of the Super Friends♥ that are willing to help.  Sue Hrobar captured this ambitious water snake and it inspires me to keep trying!

watersnake & grass pickerel 09:01

I’m getting more philosophical these days and thank my friends Mike and Yvonne Fort for their inspirational efforts at Lapham Peak State Park.

I began pulling Japanese knotweed and purple nightshade as well as all of the other aforementioned weeds and it almost seemed like the whole nature preserve was just a big weed patch.

Pati and I usually go camping in the mountains in September and she couldn’t make it this year so I decided to camp at Ottawa Lake and see what that was like.  The two walk-in sites #334 & #335 adjoin the Ottawa Lake Fen State Natural Area.  Lindsay and his wife Connie and Pati joined me for my first evening at site #335 and we agreed that the wall of buckthorn on the hillside between the campsites and fen simply had to go.  I divided my time over the next two weeks between working near the campsites and at The Springs.



I began cutting buckthorn on a stretch of trail at The Springs that I christened the Buckthorn Tunnel.

The task of weeding the Sand Prairie is daunting to say the least and I’m glad to have the help of Jim Davee, Pati and Tara Fignar.  I know we can stop the spotted knapweed from going to seed and then it’s just a question of carefully digging out the plants.


Lindsay informed me that there is a weevil that attacks only spotted knapweed and I’m considering if we should try to introduce it at The Springs.  That reminds me that we need to reintroduce more Purple Loosestrife beetles, as we had a bumper crop of this invasive plant in 2013.

Anne Moretti, Jim Davee and Tara Fignar helped me pile the buckthorn I had cut in the Buckthorn Tunnel.  I really appreciated their companionship and contribution.


The fall colors where just starting to emerge by the end of the month.



The Fall season lingered long and colorful.


I spent another week camping at Ottawa Lake and continued cutting buckthorn and thinning American Hop Hornbeam near sites #334 and #335.



I began opening up a new area on the northeast end of the loop trail where it passes by an old cranberry bog; at signpost #13, the junction with the cut-off trail.  And I continued piling the freshly cut brush along the Buckthorn Tunnel.

Jon Bradley contributed another post-full of beautiful and interesting photos.  If you would like to contribute photos or stories to this blog, please let me know.


I spent 3 days piling the brush cut near campsites #334 & #335.  I separated the good logs, suitable for firewood, from the brush and plan to return this spring to cut the logs into smaller pieces.

Lindsay took a full-time position at UW Madison and Rich focused on his beautiful grandchildren, awesome garden and classic pottery, but the Three Brushcuteers reunited for a day piling the brush I cut near the cranberry bogs mentioned above.  It was sweet to spend time with them again working in the forest.

Ben Johnson and Andy Buchta joined forces with me to pile brush right at the main parking lot on Hwy ZZ.  They are both hard-working men and I truly appreciate their contributions.  Both Ben and Andy have returned numerous times since then and I really enjoy working with them!

Towards the end of the month, master naturalist Dick Jenks began volunteering as well, doing everything from cutting, to piling, to burning brush piles.  Dick, Ben, Andy and Jim all have great ideas and are very observant.  I’m really benefiting from their experiences and perspectives.

Conditions were borderline, but we succeeding in lighting up all the brush piles we recently made in the Buckthorn Tunnel.



After more than 6 months delay, while we focused on other areas of The Springs, we finally got back to the obscenely grotesque and nasty Buckthorn Alley.  You will not find a worse thicket of buckthorn anywhere on the planet.  With the help of Dick Jenks, Ben Johnson, Andy Buchta, Jim Davee and Pati, I was eager to “get after it”!


Everyone agreed we should separate the wood suitable for campfires at Ottawa lake from the slash and we have many log piles that we plan to prep using Dick’s custom sawbuck.  We’ll put some information fliers at the visitor’s center across Hwy ZZ and in the trail brochure box offering the wood to campers on a donation basis.  With the 25 mile limit on transporting firewood scheduled to kick in this season, we expect campers will take advantage of the buckthorn firewood.



The snow cover was perfect for burning brush piles, and I took advantage of it burning all of the piles we had made the past year between the river and the cut-off trail.


Dick Jenks with his sawbuck.


We had a perfect day burning brush piles along Hwy 67.


I took advantage of another fine day and lit up all the brush piles remaining along the main trail.


John and Sue Hrobar informed me that Ben Heussner and the Fisheries team, along with the South Eastern Wisconsin Trout Unlimited group, had executed another workday on the river on December 14.  Check out their excellent results here and here.


Ben Johnson (shown below) got his first licks in with a chainsaw in the Buckthorn Alley.  And Jim Davee came out to pile brush there too.


The year ended for me with a “Big Bang“, that, given my evolution of consciousness documented in these posts over the last year, should not be too surprising.

I worked with Zach Kastern on numerous occasions over the past year and so I was really excited when he made time in his very busy life to come out and help cut some buckthorn.  I hold him in high esteem!  Here is the “blue V” we used as our target to open a channel through the buckthorn connecting the trail to the remnant of a cranberry bog.


Thanks to Ben Johnson for inspiring me to put together this year-in-review.  And THANKS to all the Super Friends♥ who pitched in to help reveal the beauty of the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail.


See you at The Springs!

Spring Cleaning

It was around this time last year that we met Don Dane and Tim Peters at The Springs and expanded the scope of our restoration effort to include opening up all of the springs that feed the Scuppernong River, and clearing the river itself. Like Neo in The Matrix, who followed the white rabbit to discover the truth, we are also on a journey of exploration and learning to discover “the truth” of what the Scuppernong Springs area was like before the invasion of the white settlers. Terence McKenna coined the term Archaic Revival and it strikes a chord with me.

I had the pleasure of spending Friday, May 24, at The Springs. The northeast winds that arrived the day before continued to blow and the sky was impeccably blue. DNR naturalist/guide Melanie Kapinos and long-time Ice Age Trail Alliance member Barbra Converse, who gives tour of The Springs, stopped out to chat.


Barb asked ‘why do you do it?’ and I really appreciated the opportunity to explain myself. It will take a long time to “revive” this area after many, many years of neglect. As I walk the land and observe the recovery from the burn, I see tons of weeds amongst the good native flowers and grasses. Much of the green you see in the post-burn pictures I have been posting is from buckthorn seedlings, thistle and burdock patches, phragmites, cattails, garlic mustard, spotted knapweed and other invasive plants. The journey back to health for the Scuppernong Springs Nature Preserve and the Scuppernong River Habitat Area will be long and I take every step with joyful anticipation.

Barb led us to these distinctive Oak Gall specimens on the Sauk Campground sand prairie.



As I was spraying spotted knapweed at the sand prarie, I noticed this attractive White Spotted Sable Moth.


And this vibrantly green Lady Fern.


I continued girdling Aspen on the slope behind the Hidden Spring. The fresh air made every breath a pleasure!



I spent the afternoon pulling watercress, phragmites and cattails from the Hatching House Springs and the Hillside Springs. These springs have nice, stony bottoms and look like great trout spawning habitats. I harvested a healthy dose of watercress at the Scuppernong Spring, which has the sweetest cress of them all.

Pati joined me for the rest of the day and we reveled in the beauty.






If you love clouds, check out this site! I tried to capture the wisps floating by.





Sunset at Ottawa Lake.






See you at The Springs!

The Sauk Spring

After a couple days, I start to miss The Springs.  They draw me away from the present moment into a dreamy future, which became reality for me last Thursday as I worked, wandered and wondered in a Garden of Eden. This place is flowing with living waters and I drew some for the day at the Scuppernong Spring.


I crossed the Indian Campground on my way to an area at the bottom of the slope to girdle some Aspen trees.

IMG_1571 IMG_1572

It wasn’t until I started working with real Indians, I mean people born in India, that I started to become frustrated with the common use of the term here; a case of mistaken identity.  Language is so powerful!  Who were the “First People”, the “Native Americans”?  If only we could have learned from them how to live in harmony with the land and honored them with their own names.

Watercress and quack grass are two non-native plants that can really take over an area.  Lindsay pulled a ton of these invaders from the Indian Spring, or maybe we should call it the Sauk Spring after the tribe, along with the Fox, that ceded over 50,000,000 acres of their tribal lands to the United States in the Treaty of St. Louis back in 1803. Cede — to surrender possession of. We didn’t expect these deeply rooted plants to disappear and I thought it would be a good time to clean the spring again.




After girdling aspen for a while, I donned some rubber knee boots and pulled the new batch of water cress and quack grass that were rapidly spreading. Here are a series of videos and photos taken later in the day that give a tour of the Sauk Spring.




I love the sound of the water.

This view is a bit downstream from the source where an earthen dam was blocking the channel.

There is a second spring source that merges with the main channel on its way to the Scuppernong River.

The Sauk Spring is a relatively quiet place to hang out with a great view of the prairie.

Next, I headed to the old barn site, which is quite a bit noisier, to pile some buckthorn. Garrett and Jenny, two new volunteers, joined me and we did some stacking. I’m hoping to work with them again soon!




Finally, it was time for some fun and by this time the clouds had been blown away by a refreshing north wind.




This vernal pool as at the south end of the loop trail.


The Sauk Campground is a sand prairie that really comes alive with color in the spring. The Hoary Puccoon is in full bloom.



And so are the Wild Lupine!




On my way to the marl pits at the north end of the Sauk Campground…



At the pits looking east towards the Sauk Spring area.



May Apple on the cut-off, aka “lost”, trail.




It was a lovely, cool, bug-free, full-moon evening and I watched the sun go down from the Marl Pit bridge.








See you at The Springs!

Good Morning Springs

How can I describe what a great time I had at The Springs yesterday? The temperature and humidity were as pleasant as a Pacific Island. The air was fresh and breezing and the sunlight clarified everything. My thoughts were occupied by the current time; the present moment. Time is a spiritual current-cy. How do we spend it? What do we pay attention to? ‘As you sow, so shall you reap’ and ‘what goes around, comes around’ aren’t just cliches; they are examples of Natural Law, specifically, the Law of Attraction, which is immutably in-force everywhere at all times. So when I say I had a “great time” at The Springs yesterday, I mean it was joyful to invest my spiritual currency paying attention to nature and working to help create the beautiful world that I want to see.

The morning light was flush on the Hillside Springs.





This Green Frog was enjoying the spring too.


There are lush patches of fresh watercress just below the Scuppernong Spring and I harvested a bagful to include in my green juice recipe.



As I was rinsing the watercress at the point where the Scuppernong Spring spills out of its pool and starts to flow as a river, a brown trout emerged from beneath a rock rim and swam about in the pool. I don’t know for sure what is going on with the trout; are they visitors, or a local reproducing population?


Thousands of garlic mustard seedlings have emerged at the south end of the loop trail literally carpeting the ground. I carefully sprayed them with glyphosate trying to avoid the many good plants that are also emerging.


I conscientiously sprayed the spotted knapweed that dominates the sand prairie of the Indian Campground with clopyralid; carefully avoiding the many, many, diverse plants that are also coming up. This sand prairie is going to come alive with color in a couple weeks.

There were more aspen to girdle along the river valley. If we don’t do this, the clonal colonies will spread into and dominate the valley floor.


I piled brush in the afternoon by the old hotel site. You can see the foundation stones in many places now. I forgot to take some pictures, but if you’ve seen one brush pile… I was covered with soot when I finished and took a cool dip in the river by the marl pit bridge to wash off. Clouds moved in and I marveled at their beauty while doing some yoga asanas.




With the video below I attempted to capture one of those ‘you had to be there’ moments.

See you at The Springs!

The Hatching House Springs

I knew it was going to be a great day when I saw Lindsay’s smiling face!

We picked up where we left off on Thursday at the newly christened “Hatching House Springs” (see #9 on the Map).  Our goal was to open up the Springs and cut and pile the huge Willow that had fallen into the wetland.  Many of the Willow branches were taking root.  We also wanted to finish brush-cutting the cattail, which was concealing yet another series of springs closer to the bridge.    Here are some before shots.

You can see the two strategically placed boardwalks we uncovered last time below.

And the Water Cress…

Pati came out later to help pull cress and pile brush.  Here are the fruits of our labors.

The Hatching House Springs revealed!

There are at least a dozen springs in the area.  Here is a nice bubbler.

Time to pack up the gear.

The view from the observation deck at the Emerald Spring.

Sunset at the Indian Campground.

Hope to see YOU soon out at the Springs.

Ground Water Monitoring Project at the Springs

It was a beautiful, warm, sunny, and, dare I say, exciting, day at the Springs yesterday (November 15th).  I began cutting brush and cattail at location #9 on the map, the site of the old Trout Hatching House, which is between the Emerald Spring and the Hotel Spring.  The last time we worked in this area Lindsay and I noticed there were a couple of old boardwalk sections buried in the brush and, along with all of the Water Cress in the area, these were sure signs that there might be some hidden springs there.

Here are a couple of before shots.

And after.

I pulled a handful of cress aside and you can see running water by the first boardwalk.

There is a bubbling spring by the second boardwalk.

This Saturday, November 17th,  we plan to pull the cress out of these springs and open them up and pile the brush.  I can hardly wait!

Around mid-day my good friends Ed and Jim Brown, stopped by.  Ed has been involved in developing organic food sources and distribution networks for over 30 years ( and currently makes his home in Spokane.  Ed introduced me to the Paradise Springs way back in the late 70’s.  He is an Enlightened Being.  Ed is going to connect us with some people who may be able to use the abundant firewood that is available and also to harvest some Water Cress.  Thanks to Jim for bringing Ed out to the Springs!

Ed noticed these roots from a Cottonwood tree by the marl pits enveloping the concrete foundation.

Just as Ed and Jim were leaving, along came a crew loaded with cameras and backpacks.  Mike Parsen, a Hydrogeologist from the Wisconsin Geological & Natural History Survey, John R. Karl, a Videographer and Science Writer with the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute, Craig Helker, Water Resources Management Specialist with the DNR and Anne Korman, Assistant Superintendent of the Southern Kettle Moraine State Forest were making their first visit to the site as a team.  They are going to make a documentary describing their effort to update the state-wide ground water monitoring network.  Listen in as they explain.  From left to right below John R. Karl, Mike Parsen, Anne Korman and Craig Helker.

When we interviewed Tracy Hames, from the Wisconsin Wetlands Association, he stressed the importance of monitoring the river so we are very excited that Mike will be installing a water flow meter and temperature gauge.  Craig has been shocking the river to do fish surveys for 8-9 years and we are very interested in any changes he may measure as well.

To top off a most excellent day, Pati came out to help pile brush and participate in the interview.  It was a day full of fun and surprises!

Firewood, Wood for Artists and Water Cress

As Lindsay and I begin brush piling in earnest, we are reminded that there is a lot of wood at the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail that would be better used to heat someone’s home, than simply consumed in a burning brush pile.  Lindsay burns wood to heat his home but there is no way he could use all the wood that is available.  So, I’m cautiously advertising here that there is excellent firewood available, mostly Black Locust, but some Red Oak as well.  Of course there is a ton of Buckthorn too, and I know people who have had success with this type of wood in their furnaces.

You will need to get a permit to collect firewood at the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail from the DNR.   I have reviewed this with DNR Forester, Mike Seeger, and he was very supportive.  There is a DNR, two-track, access road that will take you very close to the wood sources.

Forest Headquarters
S91 W39091 Highway 59
Eagle, WI 53119

I mentioned in a previous post that there is an excellent assortment of Red Oak, Hickory and Cherry trees that are ready for you to take home and “turn” into works of Art.  The trees range from 8″ to 16″ in diameter and 10′ to 30′ long and all side branches have been pruned.  The artist would probably want to cut the pieces to the length desired at the site and then haul them out with a wagon, or something, to where they could be picked up via the aforementioned DNR access road.  We have one interested person so far, but again, there is a lot of wood available.

Please contact me prior to getting any wood so I can meet you out there to review the situation.

We pulled a lot of Water Cress from the Scuppernong River this past Spring and Summer.  It is impossible to completely eliminate cress unless you take extreme measures, and the cress has returned in many places along the river.  When DNR Fish Biologist Ben Heussner visited the site he reminded us that some cress is OK, and the trout like it.  With that in mind, we are not going to try to completely remove the Water Cress from the Scuppernong River.  Instead, we’ll simply make sure that it does not impede the flow of the water, as it was prior to our recent efforts, and that it does start taking over any area.

There are many places between the Scuppernong Spring and the Hotel Spring where fresh patches of Water Cress have returned.  This is young, sweet cress that would go perfectly in your salad or juicer.  I encourage you to go out and harvest some Water Cress to help us keep it under control and for your own health benefits.  You might want to wear knee high rubber boots, but there is a lot of cress available along the edge of the river.  We have cleared a path through the cattail and phragmites along the river, that is pretty dry, to make it easy to follow its course.  Please help your selves to some Water Cress!

See you at the Springs!

Another Spring Opened Up

The Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail is full of treasures waiting to be discovered.  Yesterday I continued cutting the Phragmites on the West side of the River just North of the second bridge ( Phragmites Invades the Springs ) and sure enough, there is a beautiful little spring there under this mat of cress and phragmites.

A couple pictures before I continued cutting the phragmites.

Below, after cutting and cleaning out the spring…  This bubbler is just beyond the boardwalk that the Wisconsin Conservation Corps put in back in the 1930s so this spot was recognized long back as one of the scenic attractions of the Springs.

Below is the channel flowing out of the spring shown above toward the River.  I was not able to finish clearing the channel all the way to River.  We will need a shovel to finish excavating it as it has become filled with silt over the years.

On July 9th Lindsay finished opening the channel to the River.

He found another little spring shown on the left below.

Thanks Lindsay!

I finished cutting the Phragmites in this area.

Below are a few more pictures of the area around the second bridge (counting from the very first spring at the head of the valley).

Looking out from the bridge over the River that is just up the trail from the Marl Pits.

The little Oaks growing in the understory are being attacked by Leaf Minor.  We are keeping an eye on this to see if it is affecting any of the mature trees.

Quack Grass Dominates Indian Spring

The Indian Springs is a lovely spot along the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail.  There are many springs in this area and they collect in a channel that feeds into the Scuppernong River just upstream from the bridge at the Marl Pits.  The springs were choked with water cress, which Lindsay and I pulled earlier this Spring.  Here are a couple of photos after we pulled the cress.

The shot below is of the area just below where Lindsay is standing above.  There is a nice bubbler in the “thumb” of this spring shown below, which is now completely choked with quack grass.

We noticed a grass exposed after we pulled the cress but did not attempt to identify it or remove it.   Well, it was quack grass and it quickly expanded to take over the entire spring area.

We manually pulled out the quack grass from the heart of the main spring since it was relatively easy to get the entire root structure out of this loose sand.

In the upper right of the picture below is the “thumb” referred to above, now completely choked with quack grass.

We reviewed the situation with Ron Kurowski and he recommended removing it.  DNR trail master Don Dane suggested spraying, as digging it all out would have required removing a lot of soil and really disturbing the area.  The root system of quack grass is very intense and it is not easy to dig out completely so we went to the last resort, spraying with herbicide.

Nobody wants to spray herbicide anywhere near water, especially a crystal clear and pure spring, but we felt we had no choice.  We sprayed the quack grass with AquaNeat, which is relatively safe for use in the water, and we’ll be documenting the results in a future post.

Water Cress Chokes Scuppernong River

When I first started working at the Springs, I used to harvest the Water Cress to put in my juicer.  That was before Don Dane and Tim Peters, from the DNR, explained that the cress was an invasive species and detrimental to the health of the Scuppernong River.  As you can see below, it was pretty darn thick.

Don and Tim explained that the cress was slowing down the water flow allowing the water to warm up, which is not good for the native brook trout.  It’s pretty tough to swim through a water cress dam!  The cress caused the water level to rise and spill over the boundaries of the river bed creating more of a marsh than would normally be there.

Armed with this understanding, Lindsay and I have been pulling water cress from the river since late March and now the river is flowing fast and free again.  The water level has fallen by at least 8″ and the river has settled back into its original bed.  In the process we “discovered” numerous feeder springs that were also completely choked with water cress.  So instead of flowing directly into the river, the water was absorbed into the hillside.  Here are a few examples of feeder springs that we opened up.

We are brush cutting the phragmites and canary reed grass (invasive species) that line the river and planning strategies to eliminate them.

The goal is to restore the headwaters of the Scuppernong River to a cold, fast-flowing stream that will attract fish and create a more natural setting for native wetland plants.