MUHS students spent their Sunday afternoon exploring the beautiful Cedarburg Bog State Natural Area. Tom Hayssen, a MUHS parent and landowner in the bog, led us through the UWM field station’s boardwalk and did a wonderful job explaining the formation and workings of this special place. We were also joined by a few other adult friends from Heiliger Huegel Ski Club who were curious to see and explore this Wisconsin gem. As a result of a bog being a bog, it is best seen in its entirety when it is frozen over. There was a few inches of meltwater on top of the ice and we followed the trail made by the Friends of Cedarburg Bog all the way to Long Lake (pictured above). Thankfully the temperatures were not any warmer as there would have been much more breaking through the ice into knee deep muck. The path weaved through thickets of tamarack and stunted white cedar and beautiful openings of sedge hummocks and cattails. We were able to see our fair share of the insect eating pitcher plants that digest bugs that fall into their water filled reservoir’s (pictured below). We also came across a Wood Frog that was overwintering in the ice. These frogs have the ability to freeze solid and thaw out in spring to go about their business (pictured below).
Wood Frogs that are able to freeze solid in winter
Saturday was a beautiful sunny day in the 40’s. In February that means one thing, maple syrup time. My son Nathaniel and I tapped around a dozen sugar maple trees and immediately upon drilling the hole for the spile, sap was flowing. In my experience, having days around forty and sunny with nights below freezing produces the best flow. When temperatures reach high forties and fifty the flow actually stops. Every year we tap the trees around this time but usually we are ahead of any flowing. Saturday already yielded six gallons of sap, not a bad start. Other signs of spring were heard and seen by us including chickadees doing their “cheeseburger” song, Canada geese heading north, and even a sandhill crane flying by. Lastly, in the evening 5 red-winged blackbirds flew by.
My son Nathaniel thanking the big sugar maple with a hug
I had the privilege today to walk an incredible property in the Mid-Kettle Moraine. The landowners wanted me to do a habitat assessment. Despite single digit temperatures, the sun was shining and it was amazing. You name a glacial feature in the Mid-Kettle Moraine and this property has it. The varying aquatic and upland habitats create a home to a diversity of wildlife.
January 31st was a big day for outdoor enthusiasts in the Mid-Kettle Moraine. The Heiliger Huegel Ski Club hosted the 2nd annual Langlauf Cross Country Ski Race. The race consists of a 5k and 10k race for both skate and traditional skiers. The course uses ski trails on both the HH Ski Club land and the neighboring Schoofs Preserve. The Schoofs Preserve is a 51 acre public preserve owned by the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust (I do much of the trail upkeep on the preserve).We were busy in the morning getting the trail routes marked and the weather was quickly deteriorating into rain. That did not stop the 50+ participants from having a good time. Later that afternoon, I brought a group of 7 students from MUHS environmental science classes and the ESO homeroom to explore the preserve on snowshoes. After a 2 hour hike exploring the Schoofs Preserve we returned to HH for a nice fire and smores at their chalet fire. These are the sort of outings that the Laudato Si’ Project is happy to help with.
Langlauf XC ski race on the Schoofs Preserve. Run by the HH Ski Club