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.
Here are a couple examples of how thick the buckthorn was becoming.
“Coach” Kevin, Marlin and Rachel
A dense thicket of buckthorn on either side of the trail.
DNR Special Teams Players Mike Spaight and Don Dane
Conditions were perfect for forestry mowing.
Mike and Don scoping out the terrain
Finishing prep on the mowing head
Mike gets after it!
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.
The view from the trailhead
Recall the picture of Kevin, Marlin and Rachel above, this is what the background looks like now.
Looking back east at the south side of the Village land.
The pictures were taken walking from east to west
The amount of buckthorn they cut and the area they covered is phenomenal
This is the second biggest oak at The Marsh and it was surrounded by a wall of 8′ tall buckthorn
This is the far western extent of the mowed area
Turning back and walking east now
The view of the Village land just to the west of the detention pond
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.
The northeast edge of the Ottawa Lake Fen SNA at the property line with the Skydance Pet Lodge
We lit 5 old piles and made three new ones.
I think one or two more days work here and we will have totatly opened up the view
Andy stokes the flames
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
A gorgeous morning at the old Parker Brothers Homestead site
The views of the target work area
I feel priviledged to be the caretaker/steward, along with Pati Holman, of this beautiful property.
A spring flowing into the Bark River
I hope to see the creation of the Bark River Water Trail, per the Village of Hartland Comprehensive Development Plan: 2035, recommendation
Views from the homestead site
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!
Lindsay, just came off working 4 night shifts in a row! Here he preps the first pile.
Before image of a huge red oak.
Here is that red oak again.
A couple of other oaks we opened up.
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!