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
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.
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.
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
View the prairie plant root system graphic,
showing the reason prairie plants survive fire!
Lunch break for all the volunteers and leaders!
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!
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
Relaxing at the end of the day!