ELKHORN AREA HIGH SCHOOL WORKDAY AT BEULAH BLUFF PRESERVE ON 4-24-2014


April 24, 2014 was a day forecast for rain, but thankfully it did not! KMLT and LLIA sponsored the 5th annual work event on a KMLT Preserve, this year at the new Beulah Bluff Preserve. Over the past year, all the home site buildings located on the Preserve have been deconstructed and materials recycled. Now prairie restoration continues with the removal of invasive brush and trees. The students arrived by walking the last mile, as their school bus took a wrong turn and got stuck on a dead end road! During the walk to the Preserve, the geology of the lake/kettle moraine landscape was introduced, including the formation of Goat Island and Beulah Bog State Natural Area. Beulah Bluff Preserve sits about 50 feet above the lake shore, overlooking a Tamarack Swamp in Camp Allis and Lake Beulah.

Twenty students, three teachers and 11 volunteers performed four tasks during the event. Each teacher joined a group of students who rotated through all four tasks led by the volunteers. The group photo shows happy students, teachers and volunteers at the end of the workday with one of their large brush piles created by clearing invasive species behind them.

Happy Group at the end of the workday Group arrives on foot Foundation hole and deck structure after dome burn Paul recording video of the volunteer introductions with Nanette Herb introduces the volunteers with Eric and Ginny Eastern brush pile Lunch break View of Lake Beulah from Observation Deck structure after brush clearing Open slope after brush clearing

Water Quality Testing with Dave DeAngelis and Floyd Pochowski from Lauderdale Lakes Improvement Association on Jim Blomberg's pontoon boat, which provided access to various lake locations for water sampling. Camp Charles Allis volunteers, Tom Bernhardt and Tom VanDenBogart, provided access to the camp shoreline for boat loading and an outhouse. Samples collected were returned to school for analysis in Deanna Brunlinger’s Biology and Biotechnical Engineering classes and Bridget Trewyn’s Chemistry classes.

Bridget's group gets water safety instruction Tom steadies the pontoon boat as Jim steers from the dock Dave presents Water Testing Equipment Training Tom and Floyd help dock the boat in a strong wind

Invasive brush was cut from the steep southern slope of the Preserve and hauled to large burn piles on the home site grass. This work was led by Eric Tarman-Ramcheck, Paul Mozina (see Paul's blog), Ginny Coburn and Nanette Doubler. The leaders provided chainsaw skills and cut root system herbicide treatment to prevent plant regrowth. The top half of the slope was cleared, so there will be more opportunities on this task in the future, as KMLT hosts more workdays at the site. Several large Oaks were uncovered by this work and the prairie plant seedbed is now exposed to sunlight. More prairie seed will be collected in the fall and distributed into this area.

Paul prepares his equipment Tom meets his group Ginny and Nanette describing the herbicide application process Eric describes task and safety procedures Nanette shows students where to treat the cut brush roots Eric cutting brush on the slope Deanna uses teamwork to get the cut brush up the hill to a pile Got it Treatment follows More cut brush dragged up the slope Paul cutting his way down the slope Big load Starting another pile Paul and Ginny attempt to reduce the pile height Ginny helps collect cut brush Fourth pile is growing Lots of teamwork near end of the event Really big brush

Geology and prescribed fire has shaped this landscape and promoted the native plant ecosystems it supports. Herb Sharpless and Debbie Ferrari led this task, describing how the Wisconsin Glaciers created the kettle moraine landscape as they melted and how fire was used by Native Americans to capture game and promote a game rich prairie and Oak savanna. The students observed the largest kettle, the fifty foot deep Lake Beulah, the four Beulah Bog kettles and then a smaller kettle located in the Preserve. Each has evolved its own ecological environment based upon the amount of water it retains: lake, bog and upland woods. The use of prescribed fire as a restoration and land management tool was demonstrated at a Beulah Bog burn unit and at the Preserve kettle which has been managed by prescribed fire for several years, resulting in an open Oak savanna with a rich mixture of native sedge and forb species. It was nice to see only a few Garlic Mustard plants amongst the Sedge, and quite a few Hepatica were blooming during this visit.

View the prairie plant root system graphic, showing the reason prairie plants survive fire!

Herb describing the landscape to Bridget's group Herb describing kettle formation to Ed's group Viewing the features of the small site kettle Learning about sedges