The Fen at Scuppernong Springs

The Fen at Scuppernong Springs

I always thought the Scuppernong Springs was a jewel — a “World Class” site —  as retired DNR Naturalist Ron Kurowski would say.  When I discovered back in July, 2012 that the Scuppernong River Area was one of the Wisconsin Wetlands Association‘s “Wetland Gems“, I reached out to them for some advice.  WWA Executive Director Tracy Hames, newly arrrived from his previous position as head of the Yakama Nation’s Waterfowl Program, responded quickly and we soon had a date set for his first visit to The Springs.  Here is the interview I captured with Tracy back in August 2012 — his love and passion for wetlands is inspiring!  We’ve stayed in touch since that first visit and Tracy recently brought the entire WWA staff to check out The Springs.

IMG_2313

Kyle, Jake, Erin, Chelsea, Tod, Tracy and Katie

Tracy had just let me know that I would be one of the recipients of the 2016 Wisconsin Wetlands Association’s Wetlands Award.  I don’t volunteer my time and energy to try and garner any awards — it’s how I escape the reality of a world gone mad — but I’m proud to have received this honor from the WWA and I invite you to the celebration:

WETLANDS AWARDS
Wisconsin Wetlands Association’s Wetlands Awards recognize individuals and groups whose work advances our tri-fold mission – the protection, restoration and enjoyment of Wisconsin’s wetlands and related ecosystems.

Wetlands Awards celebration information:

November 10, 2016
6:30-9:30pm
UW Madison Arboretum
1207 Seminole Hwy, Madison, WI

Tickets $40/person
Event includes a buffet dinner and cash bar.
Get your tickets today by calling (608) 250-9971. RSVPs required by November 3rd.

I’ll be sharing the spotlight with:

The Friends of the La Crosse River Marsh

And the Oneida Nation.  oneida-indian-nation-big-logo

Of course I couldn’t have done it without the love, support and excellent nomination of Pati Holman.  The Southeast Wisconsin Trout Unlimited chapter deserves credit for all the work they’ve done on the Scuppernong River.  And the Kettle Moraine Natural History Association has long played a key role in the rehabilitation of the Scuppernong River Habitat Area, partly by their financial support for The Buckthorn Man.  And, I’m practicing my speech here, thanks to all the friends who have helped me at The Springs, especially Lindsay Knudsvig and Ben Johnson.  I hope to see you at the Arboretum!

Biodiversity is one of the distinguishing features of the Scuppernong Springs and in the past month I have been working in the fen area shown approximately in blue on the map below.

sstrailmapfenarea

I’ve been noticing a proliferation of tight groups of glossy buckthorn, which I’m guessing metatasized from batches of finely seasonsed seeds deposited via deer feces.  They consist of as many as 20 individual stalks that have reached a height of around 10-12′ growing from little mounds.   The understory is a carpet of 2″ buckthorn seedlings ready to take advantage of the sunlight.  Deer must love this place as their beds are everywhere.  When you stand on the marl pit bridge and look southeast into this area you can see the encroaching buckthorn.

img_2589

The bunches of glossy buckthorn look like green snowcones in front of the wall of tall trees in the background.

I am trying to nip this onslaught in the bud with my brushcutter; in another couple years, it will take a chainsaw, and in a decade, the fen will be completely covered.  But I am learning that, unless you can control the schedule of the application of prescribed burns, you are creating more problems than you solve by opening up the canopy to a carpet of buckthorn seedlings.  Thus, I will be applying a foliar spray of Aquaneat to the glossy buckthorn carpet to prevent another thicket emerging — I’m making an exception to save the fen.

The last prescribed burn at The Springs was back in May, 2013 and we really need another one to put a check on the buckthorn seedlings and resprouts.  I’ve been busy in the past month mowing and treating buckthorn seedlings and resprouts in many different areas.  These young trees are wasting no time in producing seeds and it gives me a little angst to walk the trails and see the buckthorn resurging in all of the areas where we cleared the big buckthorn.  My strategy of mowing and treating, rather than foliar spraying, is not working very well absent prescribed fire.  I’m doing the best I can to keep up with the resprouts and I think I may forego cutting anymore big buckthorn at the Scuppernong Springs until I get the buckthorn seedlings and resprouts under control in the areas already cleared.

The areas marked in red on the map below show where I have been brushcutting.

sstrailmapbrushcutting

I had an excellent workday at the Hartland Marsh with help from the Waukesha/Milwaukee chapter of the Ice Age trail, students from Arrowhead High School, and the Friends of the Hartland Marsh.  Our next workday at The Marsh is November 5th; we’ll be working on the John Muir Island.

img_2573

I’ve been brushcutting buckthorn seedlings and resprouts at the Waukesha County Land Conservancy‘s property at the Hartland Marsh as well, and recently did some infrastructure support work on the Bark River bridge there.

img_2516Back in the summer of 2010 we had a major rainfall event, and the water rose so high in the Bark River that it lifted the bridge, shown above, off it’s supports and left it pointing downstream — hanging onto the bank by a corner.  Mike Fort and I swam and waded into the river and guided the bridge back over to its original position.  It felt miraculous!  A month or two ago I noticed that one of the support posts had shifted and was barely carrying any load.

img_2536My first attempt to fix it was not quite right as I lifted it completely off its partner support.

img_2532

I repositioned it to distribute the load to both supports and its a little better now than when I started, but this needs work.  I would hate to loose that bridge!

img_2585My plan for the next few months, or as long into the winter as I can do it, is to concentrate on buckthorn seedlings and resprouts.  I have a new camera and plan to break it out soon.  In the meantime, here are a few parting shots courtesy of my iPhone.

See you at The Springs!

Weeding 9/11

Weeding 9/11

The Buckthorn Man and I are 9/11 Truthers.  I go back and forth in my head between the reality that the official story about what happened on 9/11 is a myth, and the realization that most people don’t see it that way, or simply don’t care if it is or isn’t.  It’s the later thoughts that drive me into the woods sometimes.  There, when I see a weed, or a buckthorn tree, I can pull it, or cut it — make the scene more beautiful, more truthful.  In the “real” world however, removing the weeds obscuring the truths surrounding the events of 9/11 is not so simple: the best I can do is share what I have learned and hope that you are reason-able and not ignore-ant.

So, let me ask you: Is there anything I could say or show you right here that could change your mind about anything you think you already know about the events of 9/11?  If the answer is NO, then skip down in this post until you see JB The Explorer‘s beautiful photographs.

The last time we saw The Buckthorn Man, he was in the Garden of Weed’in enjoying the fruit of the tree of knowledge, which is rooted deeply in who, what, where, and when, and grows with understanding (why), bearing the fruits of wisdom (how).  Yes, I’m talking about the trivium again: grammar, logic and rhetoric are tools people of good will can use together to discover what is true — what is real.

“I keep six honest serving men (they taught me all i knew); Theirs names are What and Why and When And How And Where and Who.”

Rudyard Kipling

If you are still with me, then your mind is open and I’m assuming you will at least entertain these thoughts.  In case you are not already familiar with his work, let me introduce you to a very talented investigative reporter named James Corbett.  Like me, he is also a weed puller: the invasive species he fights include government violence, coercion, lies, secrecy and corruption.  His garden is The Truth, and it bears good fruit — here, take a bite!

Rudy Giuliani, Mayor of New York (all video descriptions are from James)

Mayor Giuliani oversaw the illegal destruction of the 9/11 crime scene and is criminally liable for the deaths of hundreds of emergency workers for not passing on prior warnings about the collapses of the Twin Towers. It is no wonder, then, that the Fire Department of New York so passionately detest Giuliani for his actions in disgracing their fallen brothers and covering up the 9/11 crime.

Christine Todd Whitman, EPA Administrator

If the brave men and women who had rushed to the World Trade Center in the chaotic days after 9/11 to help with the search and rescue had done so knowing the risks they were facing, that would be one thing. But of course they did not. They had been given false assurances by Christine Todd Whitman, the EPA administrator who assured the public just days into the clean up that the air was safe to breathe.

Philip Zelikow, Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission

In January of 2003, just weeks after Kissinger stepped down, it was quietly announced that Philip D. Zelikow would take on the role of executive director. As executive director, Zelikow picked “the areas of investigation, the briefing materials, the topics for hearings, the witnesses, and the lines of questioning for witnesses.” In effect, this was the man in charge of running the investigation itself.

Remember Mort Sahl, the famous comedian?  He asked a poignant question in his 1976 autobiography Heartland: “How many lies do you have to believe before you become part of the lie?”

Investigate 9/11!

That being read/seen (maybe?), it’s time for the latest adventures of The Buckthorn Man.  But first, let me share some beautiful pictures and video of The Springs from Jon Bradley.

img_1566-copy

img_1567-copy1

img_1677-copy1

img_1698-copy

img_1586-copy1

img_1646

Thanks Jon, that was beautiful!

In case you have not driven lately in the vicinity of Hwy 67, where eastbound Hwy ZZ meets it (across the road from the Hotel Springs), the DNR hired a forester to harvest some of the hardwoods from the area.  They did a fantastic job mowing the buckthorn and honeysuckle that was thick in the understory in preparation for the tree thinning operation.

I spent the day pulling weeds like queen anne’s lace and sow thistle near the Scuppernong Spring.

img_2442

Jared Urban, DNR Conservation Biologist,  gave me two very cool signs to put up at the Ottawa Lake Fen State Natural Area.

img_2467I spent a couple days putting up the signs at the fen and cutting and treating black locust seedlings.

The DNR Fisheries team did a great job dredging the muck from McKeawn Spring, which is just south of the Scuppernong Springs on the east side of Hwy 67.

After a road trip to Royal Oak, MI to help my friend Chris Belleau at the Art, Beats and Eats fair…

img_2468

… it was back to work at The Springs.  I’ve been meaning to finish clearing the watercress from the Fish Hatchery Springs and finally got to it.  I knew there were some cool springs hidden there!  Later that same day I worked to improve the main Scuppernong river channel near the marl pit bridge by digging out cattails and moving some logs and stones.

And just yesterday, I had a fine day at The Springs, mowing a couple of overgrown areas along the trail and digging in a bit further to cut and treat some young buckthorn saplings.

img_2473

img_2486

img_2487

Finally, The Buckthorn Man is one of the recipients of the Wisconsin Wetlands Association’s 2016 Wetland Awards.   Please join me at the celebration on November 10 at the UW Madison Arboretum (details at WWA).

See you at The Springs!

The Garden of Weed’in

The Garden of Weed’in

I always wondered what it would be like to capsize a canoe in the middle of a windswept lake and I recently got to experience it on Lake Nokomis with my good friend, Todd Nelson.  I saved my tevas and backpack but lost my Canon G15 camera.  Todd saved his guitar but lost his funky hat and iPhone.  The thing I liked about it was that neither of us got upset in any way; we made it to shore, emptied the canoe and finished our voyage.  It was almost a pleasure to deal with the adversity, together, in a calm way.

ToddNelsonPerformingAlwaysOpenCarwash

Todd playing his song Sleeping Man in his inimitable style

I’ve been super busy this last month helping my friend Scott Finch break down his recording studio and move to North Carolina…

Velvet Sky Studio http://scottfinch.com/

Velvet Sky Studio http://scottfinch.com/

… and doing two art fairs with my friend Chris Belleau, but there is some good news and progress to share from The Buckthorn Man.

IMG_2406

Chris Belleau at the Morning Glory Art Fair in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Summer is the season to attack weeds and in years past I focused on pulling spotted knapweed on the sand prairie.  That is until August of 2014, when I introduced both flower (Larinus minutus) and root (Clyphocleonus achates) weevils to munch on the knapweed.  This is their third year feasting at the sand prairie and they are really getting the job done!  Now, when are they going to find an effective biocontrol for garlic mustard?

I’ve been concentrating on other weeds this summer and feeling sanguine about the prospect of significantly reducing the exotic, invasive plants, at The Springs and the Ottawa Lake Fen SNA.  One of the weeds I’ve been working on is narrow-leaved cattail — in cases where it is dominating springs or blocking the main channel down the river.  There are many springs on the east/right side of the observation deck at the Emerald Spring that were totally covered in cattails.  Here are before and after views.

IMG_2295IMG_2305IMG_2308And just last week I dug out cattails and reed canary grass from the main river channel all the way from the Hotel Springs upstream to the Hatching House Springs (map here).  I’ve been sprucing up the river in anticipation of meeting Tracy Hames, executive director of the Wisconsin Wetlands Association, and his entire staff, for a tour of the wetlands in the Scuppernong River Nature Preserve.  We had an excellent visit a few weeks ago exploring the wetlands that we opened up on the north end of the loop trail, and wading upstream from the gaging station bridge all the way to the Hotel Springs.  Tracy suggested we cut the narrow-leaved cattails as low as possible prior to the tentatively scheduled fall prescribed burn (hopefully DNR burn boss, Don Dane, can pull this off).  Not only will this put more dried fuel on the ground it will increase the chances that the burned tips of the cattails will be submerged under water next spring, which would significantly diminish their regrowth.  Tracy also pointed out that purple loosestrife was popping up all over the place.  I explained that biocontrol agents for the loosestrife had been released at The Springs more than 5 years ago and that they had made a dramatic impact on the southwest border of the nature preserve.  We speculated that the loosestrife beetles would find the newly emerging plants, but I’m probably going to pull all the isolated purple loosestrife I can find before they set seed — to be on the safe side.

IMG_2313

It was a real pleasure to share The Springs with such an enthusiastic and supportive group!

After the meeting with Tracy and the WWA staff, I visited the Indian Springs to pull creeping bentgrass that was spreading like crazy and setting loads of seed.  Here is a gallery of before and after images.

I took a couple days off from pulling and collecting seed heads from canada thistle, bull thistle, sow thistle, white sweet clover and yellow sweet clover at The Springs to hang out with Lindsay Knudsvig at the Hardscrabble Prairie State Natural Area, near Hazel Green, Wisconsin.  Lindsay is currently working in nearby Dubuque, Iowa and he has adopted the Hardscrabble Prairie SNA as his own.  We need more people like Lindsay who care about the land, see what needs to be done, and simply do it.

IMG_2324

I managed to squeeze in 5 days of camping at My Shangri-La (campsite #335 at Ottawa Lake), and took advantage of the proximity to get some work done at the Ottawa Lake Fen SNA.  I had not been there since May and I was amazed at how overgrown the trail from the campsite north around the fen had become.  Numerous box elder and black locust trees that we girdled a few years back had fallen across the trail and black locust seedlings and weeds of every stripe had made the trail nearly impassable.  Jared Urban, conservation biologist with the DNR and the main force behind the State Natural Areas volunteer program, was planning to visit so I spent two days clearing the trail and pulling weeds.

IMG_2408We explored the east shoreline of Ottawa Lake and took the freshly cleared trail around the north side of the fen, celebrating the progress that has been made.  Jared pointed out a few weeds like Japanese hedgeparsley and teasel that were just starting to make inroads and, needless to say, I pulled all I could find.   There is still a lot more weed pulling and weed seed collecting to do at both the Ottawa Lake Fen SNA and at the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail.  I started on the queen anne’s lace near the Hotel Springs and Jared tells me I’m way ahead of the DNR on this one.

IMG_2424IMG_2425Well, this has been a rambling recap of the adventures of The Buckthorn Man in the Garden of Weed’in.  You know, ever since he tasted the fruit of the tree of knowledge, and learned the difference between right and wrong, he has been a missionary: shining the light of truth into the darkness; pulling out the weeds to reveal the magnificence of The Creator.

In 2013 I ran into the DNR water quality team doing a fish count on the Scuppernong River and it was fascinating.  Then in 2014 I coincidentally ran into them again and documented it on my old website here.  I wasn’t able to join them in 2015 or 2016, but I got the latest counts from 2016.

Scuppernong River Fish Counts
Fish 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Brook Trout 121 213 92 66 46 113 27
Brook Stickleback 59 25 11 1 4 93 94
Central Mudminnow 69 72 15 5 58 69 2
Fantail Darter 2 10 8 9 0 36 58
Grass Pickerel 0 1 1 1 10 1 1
Green Sunfish 0 1 0 4 0 0 0
Johnny Darter 0 2 1 0 0 2 7
Largemouth Bass 0 0 0 0 0 0 3
Mottled Sculpin 240 169 211 86 107 212 168
Northern Pike 0 0 0 3 0 0 0

The DNR always counts fish in the same stretch of river between the gaging station bridge and the Hotel Springs and I always see 6-8 brook trout hanging out just below the bridge that is upstream of the Hotel Springs.  It is possible that all of the stream remediation work we have been doing has prompted a natural redistribution of the brook trout upstream of their old haunts.  The DNR has stocked brown trout and lately, brook trout, in the Scuppernong River, so that is another factor to consider.

ScuppernongRiverFishStocking
Here are some parting shots…

See you at The Springs!

The Hillside Springs Revealed

The Hillside Springs Revealed

In case you were wondering why The Buckthorn Man got so upset about the sweetheart deal the Village of Hartland secretly gave to JD McCormick, LLC to develop the Riverwalk apartment complex that I reported on last time, it’s because I happened to be reading Gustavus Myers’ fantastic History of the Great American Fortunes.  In the fine tradition of John Jacob Astor, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Marshal Field, Jay Gould, J. Pierpont Morgan and Edward H. Harriman, Joe McCormick is getting rich at the taxpayer’s expense and that bugs me.  I had hoped to work with the Village of Hartland to help them formulate a plan to restore, preserve and protect their environmental corridor but I found that Village Administrator and Board have no integrity and cannot be trusted.  The taxpayers of Hartland gave “Poor Joe” $1,615,000 to acquire the land for the Riverwalk development and they don’t know or care, or they don’t care to know, or they know and don’t care — I don’t know.

I’ve been trying to carry on at the Scuppernong Springs, but with a heavy heart, and I even organized a workday with the Ice Age Trail Alliance at the Hartland Marsh despite my disgust and disillusionment with the Village leadership.  Here are a few recent pages from The Buckthorn Man‘s diary .

June 23, 2016

A large patch of poison hemlock had sprung up out of nowhere near the old hotel site and I carefully mowed it down with my brush cutter.

IMG_8901It’s been three years since I became enlightened with “organic consciousness” and I don’t spray weeds with herbicide anymore.  Now I just mow and pull and try to stop the weeds from going to seed.  I mowed this patch of crown vetch near the Hotel Springs.

IMG_8897The Emerald Springs are a lovely little pool of springs but half of them were hidden under a blanket of watercress.  Here is a gallery of before and after shots of my weed pulling exercise.  I’m not done here and plan to open up this pool and make it more accessible to ducks in the dead of winter.

June 25, 2016

Last February we got a big assist from the DNR when Don Dane and Mike Spaight donated two days of forestry mowing to our restoration project at the Hartland Marsh.  The Friends of the Hartland Marsh and members of the Waukesha/Milwaukee chapter of the Ice Age Trail Alliance joined forces in hand to hand combat with buckthorn seedlings on a very hot and steamy summer day.

June 27, 2016

Back at the Scuppernong Springs, there was one last area of springs called The Hillside Springs that really needed some attention.  HillsideSpringsThe springs were choked with watercress.

I spent the afternoon pulling Canada Thistle and I really appreciated DNR Conservation Biologist, Jared Urban, sharing the following information about native and invasive thistles.

ThistleBrochure_pg1

ThistleBrochure_pg2One thing that makes working at The Springs so much fun is when other people appreciate it.  The Keepers of the Springs, John and Sue Hrobar sent me these fantastic dragonfly pictures that Sue took there.

Swamp Darner

Swamp Darner

Mature Whitetail

Mature Whitetail

dragonfly A 06:03

Immature Whitetail

June 29, 2016

Back at the Hillside Springs there were 4, 8′ deck sections laying directly on the ground near the springs blocking the natural flow of water down the hillside.  One of the decks had been damaged by fire and they were not arranged in a way that provided the best view of the springs.  I had a general plan to reuse 40′ of boardwalk that had been high and dry on the main trail nearby for years, and bring the 5, 8′ deck sections over to the Hillside Springs and use them to build a better viewing platform.  This would require pedestals to support the decks, like we have done in other locations, and there was a handy large dead aspen tree nearby that I planned to take down and cut up into building material.  Listen as The Buckthorn Man explains his plan.

I spent the afternoon pulling Canada thistle.

July 2, 2016

I mentioned to Ben Johnson that I had one goal for the year and that was to fix the decks at the Hillside Springs and he immediately responded and suggested we get after it pronto — so we did.  Thanks Ben!  Lindsay Knudsvig joined in the fun and we had a deck raising party!

July 5, 2016

I spent a peaceful and meditative day pulling thistles.  It was a very satisfying feeling to weed gardens of bee balm, aster and goldenrod of their prickly invaders.

July 8, 2015

More Canada thistle pulling along with any white and yellow clover I could find.

IMG_2287July 10, 2015

I mowed the weeds near the marl pit bridge and pulled thistle and clover the rest of the day.

IMG_9114

IMG_9115IMG_9124July 14, 2016

Another day spent pulling thistle.  I really enjoyed the solitude.

IMG_9125IMG_9129IMG_9132IMG_9135

The week of July 19-25 I went to Ann Arbor Michigan to help my good friend Chris Belleau present his glass artwork at the their famous street fair.

IMG_2289IMG_2288IMG_3678FullSizeRenderIMG_3657See you at The Springs!

Watercress River

Watercress River

The Scuppernong River was beginning to remind me of a shaggy dog in desperate need of a trim.  Watercress blanketed the river from bank to bank and bed to billowing flowers overhead.  Way back in 2012 Lindsay and I began pulling watercress from the river — we actually thought we were getting rid of it.  Now I think that would be impossible unless one was willing to apply a huge amount of herbicide.

I pull watercress whenever it reaches the point were it begins to dam the river, which causes the flow to slow way down and the temperature to go up in what is called “thermal pollution”.  I’ve been cautioned by DNR Fisheries Biologist Ben Heussner that the watercress provides cover for the native brook trout and habitat for the macro invertebrates they feed on, so, I’m not trying to get it all out; I just want to see and hear the river flowing freely.ScuppernongRiverWaterCressPullingSites

The Scuppernong River upstream of the Hotel Spring is full of muck and marl that settled there during the 120 years the headwaters were impounded forming the upper and lower ponds.

B097164-R1-06-7_007During the trout farming days back in the 1870’s, three additional embankments were utilized to divide the river upstream of the Emerald Spring.  When the DNR drained the ponds in the early 90’s, they did not dig deep enough at each of the openings created in the embankments and the natural flow of the river remained impeded, trapping muck and marl upstream.  Beginning back in March of 2015, the DNR, along with help from the Southeast Wisconsin Trout Unlimited group and The Buckthorn Man, has begun rectifying this problem by excavating rock, soil and building materials from 4 of the old embankments.

The only thing still holding up the free flow of the river was watercress.  Watercress loves the mucky river bottom and banks and it grows prolifically at The Springs.  I am hoping now, with the embankments excavated and the watercress pulled back, or out, that we’ll finally start to see the Scuppernong River flowing like it used to; and taking some of that muck and marl downstream with it.

I started pulling watercress from the Scuppernong Spring downstream to the first bridge during my recent camping adventure at Ottawa Lake.

IMG_8589Over the last three weeks I have pulled watercress at the Fish Hatchery Springs, Indian Springs, Emerald Springs and the entire stretch of river upstream from there.

The Emerald Spring, the jewel of The Springs, was almost completely covered by watercress.  I still have some work to do at this location…

Then I worked on the stretch of river between the Emerald Spring and the Second Bridge , which is upstream from there (check the map above).

And finally, just yesterday, I finished the last stretch between the first and second bridges.  There is a gurgling rapids just below the first bridge now!

I got in a little garlic mustard pulling, and reed canary grass mowing, at The Springs.

I’ve been busy at the Hartland Marsh as well and was happy to have some help from my friend Mark Mamerow.  We had intended to do our “river rat” thing, and clear downed trees from the Bark River, but the water was too high so we pulled garlic mustard instead.

The GMO miracle!

See you at The Springs!

The Cornfields of Hartland

The Cornfields of Hartland

Where have all the cornfields gone, long time passing?

The Village of Hartland 1937

The Village of Hartland 1937

One “Smart Growth” plan after another over the years has resulted in the elimination of any agricultural land in the Village; the Sanctuary of Hartland being the last to undergo the zoning alchemy.   Local developers know that the Village will be more than happy to annex any neighboring land to add another subdivision, as we saw with Four Winds West and Windrush.  The Corporation needs to survive and what better way to do it than by increasing the municipal tax base.  To that end, a large part of the Village bureaucracy appears to be dedicated to the care and nurture of subdivision developers.

Yet, if you recall the analysis I did of the Village of Hartland Comprehensive Development Plan: 2035, the responses to the community surveys that served as the basis for the plan were overwhelmingly for the preservation of natural areas and open spaces.  Given the relentless development that has ensued since the plan was adopted in 2010, and the fact that much of the data referenced in the plan was pre-2000, the Village should honor the commitment they made to review the entire plan within 5 years; not for the purpose of undoing any of the development that has occurred, which would be impossible, but to highlight the need to balance the scales by applying Village resources to the protection and preservation of the environmental corridor and natural spaces.

Since my appointment to the Village’s “Environmental Corridor and Open Spaces Task Force”, I’ve been trying to learn what is actually happening on the lands in the Village.  No less than 5 new subdivision developments have commenced, or significantly advanced, since 2010: Sanctuary of Hartland, Windrush, Homestead, Four Winds West, and the North Forty.

HartlandDevelopmentSmartGrowthPlanThe image above is from the 2009 “Smart Growth” plan in which the Village planners made no secret of their intentions regarding the Sanctuary, Homestead and North Forty subdivisions; Windrush and Four Winds West were just twinkling in the eyes of the developers back then.  Where have all the cornfields gone?  They are still visible on Google Map, but you better hurry as I’m sure it will be updated soon.

HartlandDevelopmentThe Sanctuary of Hartland was farmland before they planted the pine plantation in the 70’s.  You can see the new subdivision plat laid over a 1941 aerial image below.

SanctuaryOfHartlandTo the existing home owners surrounding this area, some of whose homes date back to the 1937 era, this area was literally a sanctuary in their backyards; maybe that is why they showed up at Village Board meetings to protest — in vain.  I haven’t heard of any protests against any of the other new subdivisions, and it will be too late when residents see the new assessments for water and sewer services.

“Unless a productive use can be found for woodlands or other upland open spaces in and around the Village, they may as well be developed.”: 65% strongly disagreed, 27% disagreed.  Comprehensive Development Plan: 2035 Appendix B

Well, that’s the response Hartland residents gave in the community survey and below we see what they got in return:

FourWindsWest

"Concept Plan for Windrush Subdivision" Jim Siepmann of Siepmann Realty said he expects to have the 57-lot Windrush subdivision built by the end of the year. The subdivision, located south of Highway K near Winkleman Road, is considered part one of a three part development plan.

“Concept Plan for Windrush Subdivision” Jim Siepmann of Siepmann Realty said he expects to have the 57-lot Windrush subdivision built by the end of the year. The subdivision, located south of Highway K near Winkleman Road, is considered part one of a three part development plan.

Homestead

NorthFortySubdivision

North Forty

Who am I to question the powers that be?  A nobody, but, isn’t it obvious how out of balance the Village of Hartland is?  After extolling the value and importance of the environment and natural spaces, and the need to protect and preserve them in their Comprehensive Development Plan: 2035, the Village’s Boards, Commissions and Departments have spent relatively little time or resources following through on those goals.  Developing subdivisions is very complicated; it absorbs a lot of attention within the Village Bureaucracy.  Imagine if even a fraction of that effort were dedicated to the environmental corridor — starting with Village owned land?

So, where have all the cornfields gone?  Well, there is still a cornfield in Hartland!

HartlandCornFieldYup, it’s right smack dab in the primary environmental corridor on a parcel of Village Land that is zoned parks and recreation.  Some Village Board members would like to see a Community Center or some other public facility built here.  This has been debated for a long time and the prospects are uncertain.  In the meantime, why not make this land The Hartland Prairie — fitting in with the environmental corridor — instead of The Hartland Cornfield?

IMG_8683

The Hartland Cornfield

IMG_8679

A living museum

IMG_8681

Don’t worry about the weeds; this GMO corn is Roundup ready!

The Village leadership views this parcel as extremely valuable land, and while they try to figure out what to do with it, they have been leasing it to a farmer to grow corn and soybeans — ignoring their own zoning ordinance.  Never mind all the supplicants who appear before the Architecture and Planning Commission and the Village Board to request zoning changes or variances, they rightly fall under the jurisdiction of the Village of Hartland (I love the etymology of that word: jurisdiction, juris/law + diction/to speak  = To Speak the Law).  The law applies to you, not the Village!

Well, I really needed to pull those weeds out of my mind.  Are you still with me?  Thanks!

I’ve been focused on garlic mustard and dames rocket lately.  Here are a few pics from my recent weed pulling adventures at The Hartland Marsh.

Back at The Springs, I had the pleasure of leading a Natural Resources Foundation Hike at The Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail on National Trails Day with Dr. Dan Carter from SEWRPC and special guests Pati Holman and Lindsay Knudsvig.

Later that afternoon, per advice from Dan, I transplanted some roundleaf monkeyflower (Mimulus glabratus) that I had harvested a couple days earlier from Mckeawn Spring and Bluff Creek to the spring just below the Scuppernong Spring.

I hope the transplants root!

Then I went to the Indian Spring to pull watercress and plant some more roundleaf monkeyflower.  It would be great if we could replace the invasive, non-native, watercress with a native plant like roundleaf monkeyflower.

Some parting shots from The Springs and Ottawa Lake.

See you at The Springs!

The Curse of Garlic Mustard

The Curse of Garlic Mustard

Once you know a thing, there is no unknowing it.  Unfortunately for me, I became aware of the negative impact of garlic mustard, and around this time of year I feel compelled to try to stop it’s spread.  I wish I had more time to garden in our woods and wetlands!

After all these years pulling and cutting garlic mustard, you’d think I might be an expert on it, but I just learned from my good friend, Lindsay Knudsvig, that the seeds of garlic mustard form in what are called siliques.

1330040This is empowering information as I was previously focused only on the flowering garlic mustard i.e., preventing the flowers from maturing by cutting or pulling the plants.  Now, my garlic mustard fighting season will continue so long as I can locate and collect the siliques.

I recently spent three days pulling and mowing at the Ottawa Lake Fen SNA.  Check out this gallery of garlic mustard horrors.

I’m not using any herbicide on the garlic mustard and actually seeing very positive results just cutting and pulling.  Hand pulling is definitely the best way to go when the garlic mustard is nestled in among native plants.  I pulled the garlic mustard from the area around the Scuppernong Spring.IMG_8636

In the areas where it is carpeting the ground, like shown above, mowing is great option.  Either way, eradicating invasive plants is a wonderful way to spend time in nature.  Check out these morels I stumbled upon while pulling garlic mustard at the Hartland Marsh.

Last Saturday I was joined by Arrowhead High School Instructor Greg Bisbee, and a group of young people from the school, along with Marsha and Jeff from The Friends of the Hartland Marsh, for a garlic mustard pulling party.  We worked along the hillside at the Cottonwood Gazebo and north, across the village corn field, on the Waukesha County Land Conservancy property.

IMG_2239IMG_2242IMG_2244There is a long way to go in the battle against garlic mustard!

I spent a wonderful week camping at site #335, my favorite spot at the Ottawa Lake Campground.  Thanks to Jim, Bob and Mark for stopping by to play some guitar and enjoy the campfire.

We have been pulling spotted knapweed and cutting out brush from the lupine fields on the west slope of the sand prairie for 3-4 years now.  Nature is responding and in a few years the whole hillside will be covered with lupine!

I’m a point and shoot photographer and hope someday to learn how to use my camera.  Until then…

See you at The Springs!