ELKHORN AREA HIGH SCHOOL WORKDAY AT BEULAH BLUFF PRESERVE ON 4-27-2015


Kettle Moraine Land Trust and Lauderdale Lakes Improvement Association have been partnering with Elkhorn Area High School to host an annual environmental education event for their AP science students at one of the KMLT Preserves every year since 2010. This year, on April 27, 2015 the group returned to Beulah Bluff Preserve to continue the removal of invasive species in an effort to restore more of the native prairie. The Elkhorn Fund sponsored this event with a grant to KMLT. The students arrived on a nice sunny, spring day to find a much nicer work environment than last year. The evidence of the former building locations has been reduced by careful grading, the observation deck with information display case are installed and the driveway surface has been graded, stoned and rolled along with the new parking area. Most importantly, the four large brush piles their group created last year are nowhere to be seen, burned over the winter with snow cover to avoid fire spreading, and a rented porta potty was located in the parking area!

Twenty students, three teachers and 12 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 tasks included: continued clearing of brush from the southern boundary of the preserve to open this area for the expanding prairie and the view of the Tamarack Swamp located downhill at Camp Charles Allis; learning about the geology of kettle moraine topology and the native/invasive plant species growing on this landscape; collecting water samples from multiple locations on Lake Beulah for analysis back in the classroom; and starting to clear the invasive trees and brush from the northern boundary of the Preserve to establish a firebreak and enable prairie remnants to reestablish in this portion of the Oak Savanna.

The group photo shows happy students, teachers and volunteers at the end of the workday.

Happy Group at the end of the workday Volunteer leaders meet and get organized Jan getting everyone to sign in! Water testing leaders arrive after docking pontoon boat at Camp Charles Allis EAHS students and teachers arrive Gathering at the observation deck while Eric checks out display case posted materials Herb welcomes group and introduces the volunteer leaders Paying attention Group gets their task briefing

Water Quality Testing with Dave DeAngelis 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. Samples collected were returned to school for analysis.

Group boards pontoon boat for water sample collection Deanna bring back the water samples

Invasive brush was cut from the steep southern slope of the Preserve and hauled to several burn piles along the road and on the Preserve. Floyd Pochoswski helped move some of the brush from the road area to an existing Preserve burn pile with his pickup truck. This work was led by Eric Tarman-Ramcheck, Paul Mozina and Ginny Coburn. These experienced leaders provided chainsaw skills and training for cut root system herbicide treatment to the volunteers. The herbicide treatment helps prevent plant regrowth from its root system. Much of the bottom portion of the steep slope was cleared! The prairie plant seedbed is now exposed to sunlight. More prairie seed will be collected in the fall and distributed into this area.

Paul's before photo of the hillside area covered with brush Paul's before photo of the road view area covered with brush Eric clears the eastern portion of the slope making room for burn piles the volunteers will create Paul works the middle section of the brush removal Ginny lead the western portion of the brush clearing Floyd manages brush loading and hauling to existing Preserve burn site Volunteers gathering cut brush and treating cut stumps with herbicide on the steep slope Ginny and Paul working through the brush with their volunteer team Bridgett gathing brush on steep slope Volunteer building and compacting the brush pile Ginny's pile grows Eastern slope clearing almost done View of cleared east slope from Beulah Heights Road at end of the dayView of cleared west slope from Beulah Heights Road at end of the day

Ice age geology and prescribed fire has shaped this landscape and promoted the native plant ecosystems it supports. Maggie Zoellner 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, which the land trust restoration is trying to preserve. The students observed the largest kettle, the fifty foot deep kettle that holds 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 Preserve kettle, which has been managed by prescribed fire for several years, provides an example of 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!

Maggie introducing this group to the local geoplogy and plant species On the road to the Beulah Bog kettle overlook, Maggie points out invasaive and native plant species

Lunch break for all the volunteers and leaders!

Leaders sharing their experinces and enjoying a beautiful day with lunch The experienced team finds a bench for lunch break Floyd visits during lunch on the observation deck A very important rest stop

Removing invasive Buckthorn and Honeysuckle from the prairie! Gerry Petersen lead this task with a brush cutter to clear young invasive plants that had taken hold in the expanding prairie. After cutting, the root systems are herbicided with a dauber, and the brush hauled to the nearby burn site. This work really opened up the viewshed of the upland woods from the observation deck! During the lunch break, a wild turkey wandered through the site to inspect the clearing!

Gerry mows and volunteer waits with dauber to treat cut roots Appling herbicide with the dauber Hauling wood from old deer hunting stand to burn pile Burn pile growing Collecting cut brush and hauling it to the brun pile Upland woods view opened up by brush removal

Removing invasive Buckthorn, Honeysuckle and Multiflora Rose from the upland wooded area along the northern boundary of the Preserve was lead by Herb Sharpless. Opening this area allows prairie remnants to expand, nice trees to grow without brush competition and serves as a firebreak for future burns on the Preserve.

View from Bakavi Way of northern boundary firebreak opening with large brush pile Appling herbicide with the dauber near saved trees

Relaxing at the end of the day!

Volunteers relax before bording their bus back to Elkhorn Area High School