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_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_9115IMG_9124July 14, 2016

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


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!

Village of Hartland Creates Environmental Corridor Task Force

Village of Hartland Creates Environmental Corridor Task Force

Merriam-Webster defines Infidelity primarily as: a lack of belief in a religion, while Dictionary Dot Com defines it primarily as: marital disloyalty; adultery, and doesn’t mention religion until its third meaning.   I like Thomas Paine’s definition of the word in The Age of Reason, which presumes a Common Sense usage per its infidel root:

Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe.

And he goes on to say:

It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society.

Words like these force me to face the contradictions between my own thoughts and actions.  “My own mind is my own church.“, Paine said, and for me, there is discord in the sanctuary.

I profess to not believe in government — the idea that anyone has a right to rule another, whether asserted via physical violence or “legal authority”.  I refer you to my Freedom post for more on the true meanings of the words freedom, anarchy and government.  I put my ideals into practice challenging the jurisdiction of the cops, prosecutors and judges to threaten my liberty and property in their traffic courts.  You can listen to the blow by blow of my courtroom battles and armchair analysis by the masters of The No State Project chat room via this youtube playlist.

Our national government is a disgrace and those who believe in The State‘s right to rule us have empowered a monster, the reigns of which are held firmly by a financial oligarchy via: their ubiquitous, privately owned, central banking cartels; their Trilateral Commission, Council on Foreign Relations, Bilderberg Group, Royal Institute of International Affairs and other globalist organizations; their technocrats at the UN, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization and various think tanks; their control of the education system; their control of the mainstream media; and their muscle in the CIA, NSA, MI5, MI6 and their ilk in the interconnected, world-wide “intelligence” and “security” web.

Indeed, the words of Thomas Paine: “THESE are the times that try men’s souls.”, ring as true today as they did back during the crisis of December 23, 1776.  Crimes like the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy are covered up leading to even more heinous crimes like the Iran Contra scandal, the 9/11 false flag attack and the 2008 Wall Street crash.  There is no morality, justice or accountability in government; rather, government is simply a tool, implemented and supported — often with religious fervor — by its true believers, and used by the elites to control the masses.

Yet, despite all this, I am working closely with the government of the Village of Hartland to try and preserve and protect the woodlands and wetlands within their “jursidiction”.  I profess to not believe in government while working hand in glove with people who assert they are “the government”.   Is this not infidelity?  How can I work with something I don’t even believe in?


This grandmother oak at the Hartland Marsh never fails to inspire me!

In an appearance before the Village of Hartland Board back in January, I  pointed out how The Board was not honoring the will of the people — or their own will for that matter — as expressed in the Comprehensive Development Plan 2035, that they adopted back in 2010.  Using aerial photographs spanning 1941 to 2015, I showed them what was happening to village land at Penbrook Park, hoping it would stir them to action.  I have mixed emotions when I report that, at the Village Board meeting on May 9th, they approved a “Resolution creating an Environmental Corridor and Open Space Task Force“.  I will be serving on the task force and I sincerely hope that we can produce a right, powerful, creative and liberating recommendation.  Amen.

Well, with that unresolved contradiction in the church of The Buckthorn Man laid bare, it’s time to see what that hypocrite has been up to!

Way back on April 21 I made a bold move to squeeze in one more day of buckthorn cutting and burning at the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail.  I was determined to finish clearing the northern edge of a little wetland just north of the marl factory ruins.  The ground was wet and I kept the fires relatively small.  (Note, click any picture in any of the galleries to open them full size and read the accompanying text.)

On April 22, Pati and I joined Ben and Karen Johnson at the Milwaukee River Keepers Annual Spring River Cleanup event, where we worked on the stretch of the Menomonee River between Burliegh Street and Hwy 100.  Ben and Karen organized the volunteers on our segment (Thanks!).  Pati and I worked on pulling garbage from a log jam just downstream from where the Menomonee River passes under Hwy 100, and I had one of those delicious moments where I just knew I was in the right place at the right time doing the right thing.

On April 25, I joined Herb Sharpless, Maggie Zoellner, Gerry Peterson and others from the Kettle Moraine Land Trust and the Elkhorn Area High School on a workday at the Island Woods Preserve.  This beautiful property is right in Herb’s back yard!


Herb has been involved in protecting and preserving the waters of the Lauderdale Lakes area since the 1980s.  During a guided tour of the property after the workday, he taught me a lot about how to use government to accomplish good of everyone.  Yes, I know, how can I say that… We had a very productive workday with the young people from the Elkhorn Area High School.  Herb does a great job summarizing the day in the short document linked here.

On April 30, I joined the force of the Kiwanis of Hartland, led by Dave Cox, and we worked on a short stretch of the Bark River in downtown Hartland between Capitol Drive and Haight Street.  I thoroughly enjoyed working with this group!  The Village of Hartland Department of Public Works complimented the effort by hauling all the brush away.

Pati and I got way  for a little anniversary break at Newport Beach State Park up in Door County.  We camped at sites 14 & 15 and delivered our gear there via canoe — a first for us.

newportIt was beautiful, but so cold in the morning that my left hand literally became numb as I was preparing breakfast.  I could not pinch my thumb and any other finger together with enough strength to hold a feather.  An old skiing injury come back to haunt me.

And last, but not least, I pitched in on the first cooperative event between the Ice Age Trail Alliance and the Village of Hartland since the village became the first “Ice Age Trail Community” in the state.  Pat Witkowski pulled it all together and organized a brush clearing workday with some young people from The Hartland School of Community Learning.  We worked in an area along the Ice Age Trail just east of where it crosses Cottonwood Ave.  The kids hauled a lot of brush out of there and again, the Village of Hartland DPW picked it all up.

Stay tuned for more adventures of The Buckthorn Man.

See you at The Springs!

Wisconsin DNR: Super Mow Champs

Wisconsin DNR: Super Mow Champs

Time was running out at The Marsh.  Since I punted back in 2011, the Buckthorn’s offense had rallied back to take the lead and we were stymied by their impenetrable defense.  Ice Age Trail Alliance coach, Kevin Thusius, got the call from the booth: offensive coordinator, Village Administrator Dave Cox, said the only hope to save The Buckthorn Man’s efforts was a “Hail Mary” pass.  Kevin looked to the bench for the DNR’s special teams players Don Dane and Mike Spaight, who hadn’t seen action in the game since last March.

Don, the wily veteran, called timeout.  He suggested we rent an ASV machine, mount a DNR forestry mower head on it, and then throw it to Mike, waiting upland in the end zone.

As the last seconds ticked off the clock, I snapped the ball to Don and blocked the rushing buckthorn, holding them off just long enough for him to get the pass in the air.  Mike, surrounded by a thorny thicket, caught the ball and mowed the defenders down as he cleared a path into the end zone.


Here is a look at the field before the big play.  Note that you can open the gallery and see the pictures full-size by clicking on any of them, or, you can hover your mouse over a picture to read the narrative in the description.

I was working at the Scuppernong Springs this past Monday when Don called to say that he had lined up the ASV machine and they would be ready to start the next day.  We had just enough funds left in the kitty, contributed by the Village of Hartland, and we had made the decision that its best use would be forestry mowing; that was a good call, as you can see by the amazing and outstanding work that Don and Mike accomplished.  But our dance in the end zone will be merely a gaudy display if we don’t get more funding to treat the cut stubs.  We are debating whether to do a basal bark treatment before they get covered with snow, Don’s recommendation, or, wait until the cut stumps bush out in the late spring to treat them with foliar herbicide spray.  In either case, we don’t have any money right now.   We’ll get flagged with a penalty, and the touchdown will be called back, if we don’t come up with something.  Here is a map showing the area they mowed in blue, followed by an “after” gallery displaying the results.


Long time followers of The Buckthorn Man were probably stunned when they read this statement at the bottom of the presentation I made to the Village of Hartland Board on January 25:

The preservation, restoration and protection of the primary environmental corridor in the Village of Hartland is too vitally important to leave in the hands of ad hoc groups of volunteers, especially when considering that the Village is one of the primary land owners in the corridor.

Yup, this is coming from the same pen that wrote a post called Freedom that includes this gem:

Our Political “law” is nothing but the arbitrary WILL OF MEN and WOMEN. Government exists to direct and control our minds; the “State” is a figment of our collective imaginations.

On one hand, I’m challenging the legitimacy of the government’s claim of “authority”, and on the other, I’m asking the Village of Hartland — the powers that be, who “speak the law (exert jurisdiction)”, in these parts — to step up and take leadership.  You can rightly question the sanity of The Buckthorn Man: is he schizophrenic, or just pragmatic?

I’m still trying to sort out the meaning of Village Board President David Lamerand’s response to my presentation and I have confidence that the Village will act in good faith to address the concerns I have raised.  You can listen to an audio of my presentation to the Village Board on January 25, here, beginning at the 5:55 mark.  Thanks to the Village Clerk, Darlene Igl, for providing the audio.

It has been an exceptionally benign winter so far, perfect in every way for cutting and burning buckthorn in the forest.  On Thursday, January 28, I was joined at the Ottawa Lake Fen SNA by Andy Buchta and Ben Johnson.  We had a flawless day continuing to open up the views to Ottawa Lake from Hwy 67 and the SkyDance Pet Lodge parking lot.

On Friday, January 29, I was joined by a new volunteer, Jeff Saatkamp, a member of the Ice Age Trail Alliance at the Hartland Marsh.  I brush cut buckthorn saplings on the Waukesha County Land Conservancy property and Jeff and I poisoned the cut stubs.  Thanks Jeff!  I’m looking forward to working with you again at The Marsh.   As a bonus, Cheryl White the new executive director of the Waukesha County Land Conservancy, stopped out to visit and we had a marvelous time exploring the property.  Cheryl brings a wealth of experience and skill to the job and I’m looking forward to working with her

On Monday, February 1, I was joined at the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail by Andy Buchta and Lindsay Knudsvig in the morning, and Ben Johnson later in the day.  Thank you all for volunteering your time and energy to restoring our Kettle Moraine treasure!

Later that evening, around 6:30pm, as Ben and I were tending the fires, I happened to be looking to the east through spreading oak branches at Orion’s belt in the sky.  Just then a bright light emerged and I called out to Ben, “Look!” and we both watched the meteor expand into a huge white ball before it disappeared at the horizon.

I’m looking forward to joining my friends at another State Natural Area Workday at the Whitewater Oak Opening on February 13.

See you at The Springs!

Buckthorn Resolution

After a long hiatus, The Buckthorn Man has returned, chainsaw in hand, to The Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail.  The winter of 2014-2015 was one of relentless attack on the bane of the Kettle Moraine and by the time I quit cutting there on April 1, 2015 my reservoir of aggressive energy was exhausted.  I took solace in the Alchemy At The Springs wrought with Stihl and Sweat: “Out of Darkness, into Light”.  There is light at the end of the buckthorn tunnel at The Springs and, with a little help from my friends, we will resolve the dissonance of buckthorn into the consonance of prairie, woodland and meadow.

The Buckthorn Man recorded this video on new year’s eve while standing on the west end of the buckthorn alley.

Therein I sketched out a plan for this winter’s cutting season describing burning snow covered brush piles and shining a light into the darkness of the buckthorn thicket.  A resolution is the act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones — the act of answering or determining — and I think I have an excellent approach to cutting buckthorn this year.  We are going to focus on the area outlined in yellow on the map below.  This is the last upland area within the loop trail that is still covered by a buckthorn thicket and I don’t think more than a handful of people have threaded their way through it recent years.

SSTrailMapWinter2016The areas in red above mark the three locations where we cut buckthorn in the last week.  The blue circle indicates a large wetland area that is relatively open.  I am going to focus on clearing the area within the yellow circle this winter and just see how far we can get.  Each workday will consist of: picking a central location among the buckthorn to start a fire, digging a hole in the snow, cutting and collecting standing dead buckthorn, lighting a fire, and finally, feeding the fire with the surrounding freshly cut buckthorn.  This is the approach that The Friends of Lapham Peak (and many others) use and I have found it to be very efficient and effective.   So, if you are looking for something different to do on a cold winter day, watch my Upcoming Volunteer Events calendar feed on the Home page, or, better yet, subscribe to my volunteer workday events calendar via the Volunteer page, and meet me at The Springs or any of the other excellent places where I volunteer.

On new year’s eve day Andy Buchta joined me and we had a fine day cutting and burning in the topmost area marked in red on the map above.  Thanks Andy!

On Sunday, January 3, I returned to work in the area marked in red on the right on the map above.  During our recent workday with the Southeast Wisconsin Trout Unlimited group on the Scuppernong River, DNR Fisheries Biologist Ben Heussner suggested we return to the area when there was snow cover and transport brush piles over to the river to use to backfill behind the biologs we installed.  That is what The Buckthorn Man is discussing in this video.

I realized then that my original plan to burn all the brush piles there was no good, instead, we should make new piles and burn fresh buckthorn.  It’s hard to believe that a liar like The Buckthorn Man could have any friends, so I was a little surprised, and it warmed my heart, when Andy Buchta, Lindsay Knudsvig, Ben Johnson, Joe Winn and Chris Mann showed up to help me.  We had a great time, got a hell-of-a-lot of buckthorn cut, and revealed 5 or 6 large burr oaks and a cluster of 4 huge black oaks that you can see in the background of the group shot below.

Clearing buckthorn to expose an oak tree is what it’s all about for me.  We got to do it again on Tuesday, January 5 when Andy Buchta joined me in the third area marked in red on the lower left of the map above.  I scoped out the worksite and identified three spots to make fires and we got after it.

The weather reports on the nightly new have been sounding the alarm that “bitter cold” temperatures are coming — be very afraid.  Nevertheless, I did appreciate the bright sun and comfortably warm conditions on Tuesday while cutting some monster buckthorn trees.  The highlight of the day was uncovering 3 relatively young burr oaks.

I’m looking forward to joining my friends Zach, Ginny and Jared on Saturday, January 9, at Bluff Creek East to continue clearing buckthorn from around the springs that form the headwaters of the creek.


Join me at the Village of Hartland Board meeting at 7:00pm on January, 25 at 210 Cottonwood Ave. in Hartland, where we will be discussing the The Village of Hartland Comprehensive Development Plan: 2035 (See the Hartland Marsh project page for more details).

Dave and Jeff hard at work at the Hartland Marsh

Dave and Jeff hard at work at the Hartland Marsh

See you at The Creek!

NAWCA Grant Proposal for Ottawa Lake Fen SNA

Eric Tarman-Ramcheck has been on his new job as a Conservation Biologist with the Wisconsin DNR for over a year now and he is definitely making his impact felt.  Eric works out of the Kettle Moraine State Forest — Southern Unit and he is as handy with a pen as he is with a chainsaw.   He recently submitted a North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant proposal for the Scuppernong River Habitat Area and the Ottawa Lake Fen State Natural Area.

NAWCA 2015 Scuppernong River HPA & Ottawa Lake SNA Restoration - Phase 1 Survey RouteIf you have been following the adventures of The Buckthorn Man, you will recall that I participated in the 2013 Phase IV NAWCA grant for the Scuppernong Springs Nature Preserve and the Scuppernong River Habitat Area.  The Buckthorn Man was on the hook for $37,500 worth of labor at $15/hour and, along with help from my super friends, we actually contributed over $80,000 worth of labor over the 2 year grant period.  I’m proud of our contribution and very excited that Ben Johnson and Lindsay Knudsvig have joined me in committing our labor to generate matching funds as part of Eric’s new NAWCA grant proposal.  Visit the Volunteer page to learn more about how you too can make a contribution and subscribe to my iCalendar to get notified of all the upcoming volunteer workdays.

I recently published the Ottawa Lake Fen SNA Volunteer Project page on this site, so check it out for more details about the history of the land and the work done so far by volunteers and the Kettle Moraine Land Stewards, LLC.

You are probably wondering what’s up with the thick black line on the map above.  Ben Johnson called me last week and said his brother, Abe, was in town and we should go investigate the NAWCA grant area.  That was a brilliant idea, and just my speed, as I’m still healing from surgery on my right hand for Dupuytren’s Contracture.  We headed due west from the dog trial grounds parking area and made a loop over to the western boundary and then south and around Ottawa Lake.

Deep in the buckthorn thicket.

I experienced a happy coincidence on November 10, when I drove out from Milwaukee to cut some brush (one of my last workdays before the surgery) on the north end of the loop trail at The Springs, and noticed a plume of smoke rising near the visitor entrance to the Ottawa Lake recreation area.  Burn boss, Don Dane, and his DNR crew managed to execute a few prescribed burns this fall season, and I caught them doing one in area #2 marked in green on the map above.  I took a series of 4 videos capturing the conflagration that you can watch via the youtube playlist below.


See you at The Fen!

Renovating The Springs

Hello again.

It’s been a while since we last heard from The Buckthorn Man.  I’ve been laying low, or maybe laid low — a little of both I think.  If you recall, I spent over 3 months during the late Spring and early Summer working on mold remediation and it may have been enough to save the house, but, I’m not sure about the home.

I traveled bit and finally got back to work at The Springs in September with a sense of urgency.  The symptoms of Dupuytren’s Contracture in my right hand got much worse over the last year and, with surgery scheduled in November, I tried to get a few projects done that have been on my mind for a couple years.

IMG_2023IMG_2081The surgery was a success and the scar will be good for many jokes about “the time I tried to stop my chainsaw with my bare hand.”  I should be back to work in a few weeks.

I wanted to be conscious during the operation and practiced a lot of bio-feedback using Heart Math and relaxation via Transcendental Meditation so I could stay calm and aware during the procedure.  It was very interesting and I got a good look inside before they stitched me up.

The first thing on the agenda was to build a new bridge over a drainage canal to make it easier to access the cut-off trail from the main trail.  The area is circled in Yellow on the map below.

SSTrailMapFall2015ProjectsI hope you like the Gallery feature of the new website.  Check out the story-line in the captions.

Next up was the little spur trail down to the Indian Spring that looked more like a gully (see the Blue circled area on the map above.)  Rainwater was collecting on the trail above the spur trail intersection and washing the sand out.  I did this project in two days: installing two water bars above the junction to divert the water off the trail and then, installing steps and water bars on the spur trail.

I have been wanting to lift this boardwalk out of the muck for years (see the area circled in Red on the map above.)  I was really inspired by the work that Ben Johnson led last year when we raised two boardwalks up out of the mud (read here and here) and I called on Ben again, and my old buddy Lindsay Knudsvig.  We had a great time!

Well, I hope you like the new site.  I won’t be posting much at the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail anymore.  This is my new home, so please do click the Follow button on the main page to get email notification when new stories are posted.

See you at The Springs!