The Treasures of Oz is a partnership of organizations
and individuals who bring together..... Read More
Treasures of Oz in collaboration with Samantha Gehl of Solutions 101 LLC
Photos courtesy of Solutions 101 LLC
Big changes are happening to a little creek that runs through the heart of the Town of Grafton and what was once the Ulao Settlement.
Once upon a time Ulao Creek's headwaters bubbled up in the Ulao Swamp beginning in an area that is now covered by the WeEnergies fly ash dump. Watercress grew in abundance along the banks. Children swam and people fished in this clear and meandering stream. Wildlife was diverse and abundant.
Then, in the early 1900's, things began to change. Much of this lovely creek was channeled for progress - mostly for the railroad. Later, in the 1950's, Dutch Elm Disease spread through the swamp and many stately trees along the bank fell into and over the creek, bringing tons of debris down with them. In the years following, flooding increased and the need to protect farm fields brought local residents together. The Kaul, Hoppe and Helms families and other creek-side landowners joined forces to create The Ulao Creek Partnership with a mission to improve the creek and adjacent impacted land.
Over the years, The Ulao Creek Partnership, with much support from Ozaukee County, has made vast improvements to the creek, clearing the channel, planting trees for flood control and removing invasive vegetation. The creek, however, has remained confined in its dug channel along the side of the railroad tracks, and that is how most everyone thought it would always be.
But then something very surprising happened!
2014 was a very good year for Treasures of Oz!
We had somewhere between 1305 and 388 participants - we don’t really know because we do know that some folks go to just one site and some others go to every site and and many come to Forest Beach along the way, often for the food, the music, the exhibits, the silent auction and the raffle. 1305 is the number of people who were counted at each site. 388 is the number counted at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve.
We do know that smiles were everywhere and positive comments floated through the air until the last of the take-down crew departed in the evening.
Our site numbers are below. We love these numbers because we know lots of people are coming to the event but the numbers are small enough that everyone can ask questions and have real discussions at the sites. We want Treasures of Oz to be interactive so everyone can get connected to Ozaukee environment and we think our teams are wonderful links bringing visitors into the world of natural Ozaukee.
Trinity Creek 139 Visitors, even residents of southern Mequon, were really surprised and delighted to discover Trinity Creek Wetland Habitat right in the middle of an industrial area off County Line Road.
Mee-Kwon 179 We were delighted to have a surprise additional docent, Andrew Struck. Andrew is recovering from a serious sports injury and surgery. We did not expect to see him for weeks, but he is key organizer for this event and found a way to get to Mee Kwon, crutches and all.
Cedarburg Environmental Study Area 121 The ants were a huge draw! Docents, Kate and Tom, did not think anyone would care about ants. They were happily shocked! Visitors really were interested. Kate found ants tending their herds of aphids on some dogwood and another group tending their leaf-hoppers. What a cool opportunity to see what was being talked about in action.
CESA was armed with mosquito spray and a screened tent, as the woods and water can make for a buggy habitat.. The mosquitos boycotted the site for the most part, and we are thankful to them for that.
Pleasant Valley 180 Many thanks to the Ozaukee Mountain Bikers and Riveredge Nature Center naturalists for working with Treasures of Oz to showcase this Cedarburg gem.
Lions Den 235 - it was a long walk to the natural area ravine and beach, almost a mile. Look how many people made the hike! No lions were sighted on Saturday. Visitors always ask why it is called Lion's Den. Are there lions there? Years ago local residents reported seeing "lions" there, most likely bobcats. Recently a mountain lion was seen in Sheboygan County. Interesting. You never know.
Belgium 63 Serious thanks to US Fish & Wildlife experts, Jim Lutes and Bruce Luebke for traveling all the way to Ozaukee to share their expertise with visitors.
Forest Beach 388 Forest Beach had it all - the migratory preserve and the Celebration. A large flock of pelicans came down on the lake just north of the preserve mid-day. Guess they heard about Treasures of Oz.
Oops. Can you help? The coordinator (me) forgot to give the raffle team the surveys this year - can you believe it? (you don’t have to answer that.)
Well, it is true, so we don’t have the information we would like to have - like zip codes to see where people came from, ages (we were hoping to see more children this year) and the the two really important things: "comments/suggestions" and "how people learned about Treasures of Oz."
Any chance you could help here? See the comment section below? You can sign in using one of the social media links or just write your comment and you will see that you can post as a guest - it is that easy. Let us know where you are from, if you met anyone from another county at the event, or another state or nation.
Let us know where you heard about Treasures of Oz - we would love to know what really works in terms of our advertising (since we have no big agency or big budget to do this.) Thank you in advance!
This report will expand as people share their stories! Stay tuned.
The Town of Grafton Open Space Commission will be holding a public input session on the update to their Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (CORP) on Wednesday, May 21st at 6:00 PM at Town Hall, 1102 Bridge Street. The purpose of the visioning session is to provide an overview on park and open space planning, provide background information on existing Town park and open space facilities, and to solicit public input relative to current and potential Town parks and natural areas, the Legacy Trail, and other natural resource features in the Town. The session will be in an open-house format, and the Open Space Commission will be seeking comments and suggestions from Town Residents. Copies of the draft Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan will be available at the session, as well as on the Town website for review prior to the 21st, at www.townofgrafton.org.
The Town of Grafton also has a new e-mail and text notification system for residents – please sign up at www.townofgrafton.org/sign-up.
Birding Photography Electro-fishing Mountain Biking Wildlife Conservation
Ant Hill Village Stunningly Beautiful Natural Areas Hidden Trails Raffle Auction
Critter and Raptor Exhibits Tasty Food Music and much more
On Saturday, June 14th, Treasures of Oz invites visitors to explore 7 natural areas and hidden environmental treasures. Each site is hosted by top scientists, environmental stewards and experts in natural fields. Visitors can explore the site, learn about the area's significance, and converse with the docent and site team.
Download a passport (after May 1 on the website), collect stamps at each site and trade those for raffle tickets at event headquarters.
Trinity Creek Wetland Habitat - This 35-acre restored stream and wetland system was designed to provide floodwater storage, improve water quality, and provide habitat for northern pike spawning, as well as for shorebirds and waterfowl.
Two of Ozaukee Treasure Network’s best birders, Becca Sher and Seth Cutright, will be there to show off this birding area.
Today it is a healthy prairie and bird area as well. Walk the loop trail for great views of species such as sandpipers, Blue-winged Teal, herons, and egrets. Milwaukee River Watershed Fish Passage director, Matt Aho, and DNR fisheries biologist, Will Wawrzyn, will be there to explain the aquatic side of this little-known nature nook.
Cedarburg Environmental Study Area– Visit this nearly-40 acre tract of ponds, wetlands, and forest located in the town of Cedarburg. It serves as a refuge for a large variety of wildlife species and is ideal for hiking, bird watching and a variety of environmental education activities. Explore the trails and count the ant hills.
Perhaps the most stunning nature preserve in Ozaukee County is Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve in the Town of Grafton. It has become a destination for plein air painters, photographers, bird watchers and souls in search of the renewal that only nature can offer. One woman remarked in passing on a Sunday morning, ‘this is my church.’ A place of solitude and raw beauty, it invites meditation.
The heart of this place is the natural area, a state designation for a place relatively unchanged since pre-settlement times. Encompassing the larger ravines, the forest floor, now covered in ice and snow, promises to break open in an abundance wildflowers from early spring through early summer. Ozaukee County Parks has built a lovely staircase descending through the ravine, over a rippling stream and down to the endless beach. It not only makes the descent safe and easy, but protects the ravine from the erosion that would happen if it were walked and climbed over and over. Natural areas are not common and preserving them takes effort and care.
This natural area and beach has been selected as one of the Ozaukee Treasures Sites for this year’s Treasures of Oz on June 14th. At that time, docents will be available to talk not only about what makes this a “natural area,” but about the Lake Michigan Clay Bluffs that form the eastern edge of this preserve and the cut-away window they open to the glacial history of Ozaukee County.
The Schlitz Audubon Nature Center has received a $1.3 million bequest, the largest in its history, that will support the center just as it embarks on a new five-year plan, according to a news release.