Sunny Saturday Hike on the Prairie

Pollinator Prairie Planting at Heiliger Huegel Ski Club Near Holy Hill.

Saturday was our prairie ecology hike at the Heiliger Huegel Ski Club near Holy Hill. Laudato Si’ Project has partnered with the ski club for multiple projects and events including this 8 acre prairie planting in 2016. The ski club maintains beautiful hiking trails around the property for member use in the off season and nordic ski trails in the winter.

HH_teachingWe had a wonderful group of people join us for the prairie hike including members of the Wild Ones-Menominee Chapter. The tour of the prairie planting was led by the executive director of Laudato Si’ Project, Joe Meyer. Joe did the technical planning of the prairie project and assisted with its planting in 2016. This prairie is only in its second growing season and is doing very well. Not only does the planting help reduce soil erosion and fertilizer runoff into the Oconomowoc River watershed, but it is a haven for many types butterflies and pollinators. Our hike today was full of butterfly species including Monarch, Viceroy, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, and Giant Swallowtail.

The site of this pollinator prairie was corn field prior to its planting. The pictures above show the contrast between the agricultural site before and after planting. See our past blog postings to learn more about this prairie project: HH Prairie Planting and Fall Projects and Fun. Our hike took us through the prairie, learning about different plant species and their ecological role in a prairie. If you are interested in doing a native planting in your yard or at your school/parish, Contact Us. 


Connecting with God through Nature on Retreat

The New Schoenstatt Retreat Center Trail Map 


We have just completed our latest partner project with the Schoenstatt Sisters and their retreat center in Waukesha, WI. The natural beauty of the retreat center property is truly amazing and Laudato Si’ Project saw a need to better assist those on retreat to experience God’s glory through His creation. The end result, a trifold brochure that will be placed in all retreat center rooms and available to all that visit the site.

Over the past 2 years, Laudato Si’ Project has partnered with the Schoenstatt Sister’s to better care for the ecological aspects of the property and to increase access to its natural beauty to those on retreat through nature trails and informational signage. To see these Schoenstatt Retreat Center projects visit our past blog posts: Bluebird Nest BoxesWoodland Restoration at Schoenstatt Retreat CenterWoodland Trail and RestorationFall Woodland RestorationMUHS Faculty Respond to Work of Mercy: Care for Our Common HomeStewardship with Cristo Rey High School.


3 Besides a property map showing the retreat center campus and the nearly 2 miles of nature trails around the property, we also included information about Laudato Si’ Project’s stewardship work, the habitats found on the property, and its natural history. A special thanks to LSP graphic designer, Andrea Meyer, for all her amazing work.

Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, who brings out their host by number; he calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; not one is missing. – Isaiah 40:26

Nature Highlight: Spruce Lake Bog


Written by Joe Meyer: Executive Director of LSP

Meat eating plants, really?!?! That’s exactly what we found on our recent family trip to mapSpruce Lake Bog State Natural Area in WI. The bog sits around a 35 acre lake in the heart of the
Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest and contains numerous plant species that are bog specialists. There is a short 1/4 mile board walk that leads you through what would normally be an impassable ecosystem. The WI DNR classifies bogs as acidic, low nutrient “wetlands” dominated by Sphagnum mosses that accumulate over time as peat. These conditions are what drive the specialization of some bog species that I will highlight below.

Bug Eating Pitcher Plants:File_000(5)

Pitcher Plants have adapted to low nutrient bog life by capturing flies, ants and other prey through a water filled “pitcher”. Insects are attracted to the color and smell released by the pitcher’s hood but the slippery top causes them to fall into the pitcher. Downward pointing hairs prevent escape while enzymes in the water digest their meal. Several hundred species of pitcher plants make their home all over the world in low nutrient environments. Watch this You Tube video of a pitcher plant catching its prey

Bug Eating Sundew Plants: 

The less familiar sundew is another carnivorous bog specialist that uses a different 041ae9ef387d1b318aafbb445bd0482cstrategy to capture its prey. It has dozens of sugary drops of “sundew” on its head, attracting insects that get stuck on the sticky excretion. Unlike the trigger mechanism of the venus fly traps, the sundew then folds up onto its prey. It is much smaller than pitcher plants and easily overlooked, so you need to keep your eyes peeled for this amazing plant. Watch this time lapse video of a sundew catching its prey

Beauty in a Bog- Pink Lady’s Slipper Orchid:File_005(5)

This beautiful flower makes its home in many bogs. The “slipper” shaped flower takes several years to develop from seed and is pollinated by bees. There is also a white flowered variety, equally beautiful, and it is no wonder why Minnesota chose it for their state flower. Orchids are always under threat by people who wish to bring their beauty home by digging out wild plants. Unfortunately, because of the specific conditions needed by these plants, most don’t survive.

Other species you can expect to see in a bog are pictured below. They include sphagnum mosses, tamarack trees (our only conifer to lose its needles in winter), Skunk Cabbage, and Royal Ferns.

Besides Spruce Lake Bog, you may also wish to visit Cedarburg State Natural Area. It is Wisconsin’s first State Natural Area and can be explored in both summer or winter. See our past post from a winter visit with MUHS students to Cedarburg Bog State Natural Area HERE