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DNR Natural Areas Could Expand, including Cedarburg Bog

"Natural Areas Could Expand: DNR wants to add land near Kettle Moraine." Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee, August 11, 2015

From article: "Big additions are proposed for Kiel Marsh and Theresa wildlife areas, as well as the Cedarburg Bog [State] Natural Area and Onion River fishery area."

Read more: http://www.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/state-looks-to-expand-wildlife-and-natural-areas-in-southeastern-wisconsin-b99551881z1-321336921.html

PDF version: Master_Plan_article_MJS_Aug_2015.pdf

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DNR MASTER PLAN FOR THE BOG NEARS COMPLETION

This message is to inform you that the final opportunity for public comment regarding the Master Plan is 11 a.m. on Friday, August 7th, 2015.

We ask for your valued input on this plan, which influences the land in your area. 

 You can submit comments or provide testimony on the master plan.

The Northern Kettle Moraine Region (NKMR) Master Plan is heading to the WDNR Natural Resources Board (NRB) on Wednesday, August 12th (Item 3.B.3). 

There are a number of key issues within the NKMR master plan, and specifically, we’d like to point you to three issues relevant to Cedarburg Bog State Natural Area (SNA): 

1.  Expansion of the project boundary

2.  Development a boardwalk into Mud Lake 

3.  Regulation of boat storage at Mud Lake

The Board of the Friends of the Cedarburg Bog’s position on all three issues:

The expansion of the project boundaries is warranted to protect the societal benefits provided by the Bog

The Cedarburg Bog is a remarkable near-wilderness area located closely to Wisconsin’s most populous metropolitan area, and the southernmost string bog in the US.  

It serves important societal purposes such as flood mitigation, water filtering, science / education, recreation, among others.

It is susceptible to encroaching development which will adversely impact the very things that make the Cedarburg Bog valuable to its community—protecting these societal benefits in the face of a competing profit motive is a clear governmental role. The modest proposed expansion of the project boundaries and acreage goal can help to protect the wetland from these impacts.

The proposed low-impact boardwalk into Mud Lake should be built

There is already a man-made path into the lake comprised of decaying pallets, planks, and boards. It is an ad hoc “design” and not maintained—in some areas it is more difficult to transit than a non-improved trail.

There are several user groups who could enjoy and learn from the Bog if access is made safer—birders, naturalists, canoers, students, etc.

It’s an indefensible public policy position for a public property such as the CB SNA to encourage use of the lake but allowing the access to the lake to be both a safety concern and subject to the “building whimsy” of the current anonymous trail makers.

The need for boat storage (with it’s attendant issues—management, removal, security, etc) within the heart of the SNA will be reduced if such a trail is built and sustained.

The Friends of the Cedarburg Bog stand ready to partner with the DNR and other user groups to fund, build, and maintain a simple low-impact boardwalk.

Boat storage in the Bog should be reviewed to ensure consistent and fair practices moving forward

The DNR has allowed boat storage in the SNA, typically by duck hunters, for many years—an abrupt end to this would be unfair, but current storage practices are not consistent with the unique “wilderness” nature of Cedarburg Bog. The area not only holds boats, but contains 20 foot + black iron pipes that have been driven deep into the Bog, in an attempt to secure stored boats from thieves. These are almost surely left behind when the users no longer store their boats due to the difficulty of the pipe removal. 

Despite misleading signage indicating that boats can only be stored overnight during the waterfowl hunting season, management of boat storage has been nonexistent, with end-of-season removal inconsistently enforced (there is at least one boat currently “abandoned” there now). If boat storage continues to be allowed in Mud Lake removal of boats following the hunting season should be strictly enforced. Management of storage may become an expensive no-win situation for the DNR over time.

If overnight boat storage is eliminated, the effort required to portage a boat may help keep Mud Lake duck hunter numbers low as desired by hunters, and thereby protect their desired remote experience, (which they fear will be lost if the boardwalk is built).

What happens in August 2015?

Friday, August 7th at 11 a.m. Final public comment for the NKMR Master Plan closes.

The public may participate by submitting written comments to the NRB and/or presenting oral testimony at the Board meeting.

We are strongly urging all who wish to voice their support and/or concerns regarding this plan, and more specifically on issues relevant to Cedarburg Bog SNA, to the Natural Resources Board.

You can submit comments or provide testimony on the master plan.

Wednesday, August 12th The Northern Kettle Moraine Region (NKMR) Master Plan is reviewed by the WDNR Natural Resources Board (NRB) for adoption (Item 3.B.3).

This master plan includes the Cedarburg Bog and eight other fish and wildlife properties.

The NRB may adopt the plan, modify the plan recommendations, or request additional analyses.

Good to Know

Cedarburg Bog State Natural Area (SNA) is a part of the NKMR Master Plan and has been a key area of interest during this process.

The first master plan for the Bog was developed in 1982.

The draft master plan was initially released to the public on September 10 with that comment period closing on October 10, 2014.

Many comments were received in writing and at the two open houses in Plymouth and West Bend and can be viewed on the Northern Kettle Moraine Region Master Plan website. The WDNR RESPONSE to public comments may also be viewed at that website.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find the final agenda and other details for the August NRB meeting?

http://dnr.wi.gov/About/NRB/2015/Aug/Aug-2015-NRB-agenda.html

Where can I find the final draft of the NKMR master plan?

http://dnr.wi.gov/files/PDF/pubs/lf/LF0068.pdf

When is the deadline to submit written comments and/or testify in person my written comments?

11am on FRIDAY, AUGUST 7th, 2015.

Where do I find info on submitting written comments or testifying in person?

http://dnr.wi.gov/about/nrb//public.html

Who do I submit comments to?

NRB Liaison, Laurie Ross (contact info on website link above)

Who should I share this information with?

Anyone who has a connection or concern or care about Cedarburg Bog SNA!

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Groundwater study at the Bog charts the invisible

The approximate size and shape of the Cedarburg Bog’s watershed are easy to determine. A lot is known, too, about its water chemistry and about the buffering min¬erals that underground springs deposit in the water, minerals that keep its pH (the measure of its acidity) largely in the neutral zone.

In the fall of 2011, the Friends of the Cedarburg Bog received a grant from the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program to chart the invisible – the supply of groundwater that so pro¬foundly influences the Bog’s ecology. How big is the groundwater “pool” that directly influences the Bog? How deep is it? Which way is it flowing? What’s the shape of the rock layer beneath it?

Supporting scientific studies to protect the Bog is a major goal of the Friends. So, working with the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Ozaukee and Washington Counties, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee the Friends undertook a year-long study to try to answer these questions.

The project is being managed by Joanne Kline, longtime Bog Friend and adviser and an Environmental Analysis and Review Specialist with the DNR.

Land use and development in areas where groundwater is recharged have the potential to change the quality and quantity of water reaching the Cedarburg Bog. Determining how groundwater flows to and through the Bog and identifying the groundwater recharge areas is essential to protecting this critical habitat.

Some of the water that feeds the surface systems through runoff, rainfall or snowmelt sinks into the soil and ends up as groundwater. Moisture that doesn’t stick to soil particles or get taken up by plants may continue to travel down through the dirt to collect in a saturated zone called the water table. The water table surface in this area has a slight slope so that most of the groundwater that reaches the Bog comes from the north and west.

The location and quality of the Bog’s groundwater is very important to the plants and animals that live there and may explain why the federally-endangered Hines Emerald dragonfly chooses this spot as one of the three locations it is found within the state. Another rare species of particular interest is the eastern prairie white-fringed orchid.

The first goals were to map the water table and determine the path(s) of the groundwater flow. Several residents of the 42-square-mile study area allowed their wells to be tested, data on water levels and stratigraphy were collected from 800 water supply wells, along with historic accounts from drillers’ logs. Stratigraphic studies confirm the types of rocks present and their layering, and the data that have been collected will result in a 3-D map of the water table and of the different kinds of rock layers under and around the Bog.

Mild weather allowed researchers an early start in 2012, and groundwater data study points were established across the study area. Beginning in March, students of UWM Geosciences Professor Bill Kean measured the thick¬ness of various ground layers using electromagnetic induction and electrical resistivity. Weak electric currents are sent into the ground and the differences in resistance from point to point are recorded. The differences can be used to create contour maps of the rock lay¬ers.

By mid-summer, new permanent monitoring wells had been drilled at several sites on the north border of the Bog and temporary “push piezometers” were installed in the String Bog, Watts Lake, and Long Lake. A piezometer is a tube that allows scientists to measure groundwater pressure and movement. Mystified fishermen at Watts Lake watched as yards and yards of PVC pipe were sunk into the muck to make a piezometer.

In addition, geological data were analyzed in the area that is the suspected habitat of the Hine’s Emerald dragonfly. The naiad (immature stage) of the Hine’s Emerald is a habitat specialist that lives for two to four years in certain kinds of cool, shallow, spring-fed marshes and sedge meadows. Under¬standing groundwater characteristics where the naiads are known to occur guides the search for other populations.

And the next steps? The “muscle work” is over, and the numbers are being crunched. The study will give the Friends a much more accurate picture of the shape of the Bog’s basin and the direction of flow in the Bog, and a better idea of the chemical composition of its water. An extension of the study might lead to a groundwater flow model that would have broad application to groundwater planning in Southeastern Wisconsin.

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See Photos

Bog Friends Site Updated and Expanded

If you are reading this here, you probably already have figured out that The Friends of the Cedarburg Bog has a new face to present to the public on the World Wide Web. Now when you go to this site you can see in an instant why the Bog is considered to be one of the largest and most biologically interesting wetlands in southern Wisconsin. And why in 1952 it became just the second site designated a State Natural Area.

The Friends of the Cedarburg Bog) seek to make the public more aware of the Bog's uniqueness by creating opportunities to visit it. We plan projects and organize volunteer workdays for invasive species control, while seeking to improve facilities for educational and scientific programs and to support long-term monitoring and research.

Friends President Carl Schwartz said all of those goals are met by the new web site, developed by Dave Bishop, owner of Eco Web Design of Mequon, who worked with a team from the Friends' board of directors.

Bishop has created web sites for the Treasures of Oz, the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory, the Ozaukee-Washington Land Trust, and the Southeast Wisconsin Invasive Species Consortium.

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Read more ...

October Owl Prowl Is a Hoot

Thirty adventurous people were treated to a fun filled night during the Friends' sponsored Owl Prowl on Oct. 21st. We walked only a short distance before hike leader Tom Uttech tried calling in Wisconsin's smallest owl. Within minutes the weak tremolo of a single saw-whet was heard about 100 yards away.

Its faint call was coming closer and closer until suddenly two Barred Owls flew in, landing only a few feet from the road. They, too, had heard the saw-whet owl and come in for a possible late night snack. The saw-whet disappeared while the barred owls' "Who cooks for you, who cooks for you all?" calls echoed back and forth just over our heads. They continued to entertain us for over 5 minutes while co-leaders, John O'Donnell and Carl Schwartz, scanned surrounding trees for their silhouettes.

As soon as they zeroed in on the owls' location, John and Carl turned their spot lights on the pair. The barred owls continued to hoot even while being in the limelight. Eventually the larger barred owl, presumably the female, flew off leaving its bewildered partner behind. He called for his mate for a short time before he, too, vanished into the woods. When the birds were out of sight the group broke its silence and exploded with questions about the experience. Their first question being "did we stage this performance?"

With time to spare, the group moved south to the Field Station's boardwalk. Winds had calmed and clouds cleared revealing a beautiful moon. This time our guides played screech owl calls. After numerous repetitions, a faint reply came from a distance but the songster never ventured any closer. Before calling it a night, the leaders attempted to call our state's largest owl. Although the Great-horned Owl didn't return their calls, bill snapping and moving branches clued us in to its presence. Four species of owls in two hours – not bad for one night! "Prowlers" who weren't quite ready for bed were invited to follow Tom Uttech home to try to call in a Long-eared Owl in his neighborhood. A few "night owls" took him up on the offer.

See the Calendar for information about the next Owl Prowl.

--Mary Holleback

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