Aficionados of the Kettle Moraine converged at the Bluff Creek State Natural Area this past Saturday to continue clearing the buckthorn from the headwaters of the creek. The Buckthorn Man left his heart the last time he worked there and, I’m happy to report, he found it pulsing strongly in the springs that flow from the base of the bluffs. It’s hard not to fall in love with this peacefully remote and stunningly beautiful place. The massive moraines loom over deep kettles and ravines where no trails constrain your imagination. Come and explore!
We rendezvoused at the parking area on Esterly Road and found Scott Farrell, Zach Kastern and Ginny Coburn already hard at work. Zach picked up a truckload of equipment from the DNR facilities in Fitchburg the day before and had already been to the worksite with Scott to start brush piles on fire; the Southern Kettle Moraine SNA Volunteers were here back in November cutting and piling buckthorn. Ginny was clearing some brush that had fallen across the trail. Pati and I visited the area on Christmas day and captured a few images of their prep work as well as documenting our own exploration of the eastern complex of springs which you can see above near the power line corridor.
Zach explained that the goal for the day was to cut and burn buckthorn on the terminus of the ridge that Pati and I were walking along when we took the pictures at the beginning of the gallery above. Below is a closer look at the worksite, which is to the left of the “Bluff Creek” label on the first photo above and just to the right of the open field.
SNA volunteer stalwarts Michelle Bonness, Herb Sharpless and Gerry Petersen from the Kettle Moraine Land Trust, Gary Klatt, secretary of the Ice Age Trail Alliance, and Scott Farrell, and Lisa Ritzert were there, as well as some new free agents like Lindsay Knudsvig, Sarah Betzler and Lindsay Rheingans. We split into two teams: one began up on the ridge and the rest of us proceeded to the rounded point shown above where the outflow of the springs on the left side of the ridge curls around. Scott was working the burning brush piles when we got there and Zach soon had Sarah and Lindsay R. swinging brush cutters for the first time.
It was a fun and satisfying day at The Creek. Come and visit the springs and kettles at Bluff Creek, and the nearby Lone Tree Bluff overlook; you won’t regret it!
See you at The Springs!