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The holidays begin and the calorie count gets higher.
The days are short and and we sit by the fire.
Time to set a plan for winter playtime, winter workouts and best of all, winter adventures in Oz. Ozaukee County is a great place to play outdoors in winter, stay in shape and discover winter treasures.
Cross-country skiing. If you can walk, you can do this. Of course, as you learn and practice, cross-country/ Nordic skiing can move from a slow walk in the woods to an art form that lets you glide effortlessly over hill and dale. Groomed trails are nice, especially if you prefer skate-skiing, but cutting trails on your own is great exercise and fairly easy if the snow is not too deep. At more popular skiing spots, trails are usually cut by someone who gets out even earlier than you do.
Snowshoeing is simply walking with snow shoes on - no special training is needed. It lets you stay on top of the snow and allows you to walk into the woods in ways that skiers cannot - efficiently going between trees with tight turns.
Stand closely on the earth. Let its energy rise through you.
Breathe deeply the crisp cooling air and sense the gentle decay of a summer’s past.
Listen to the leaves, to the birds and the last crickets of the season.
Then let the colors take you away to where only beauty matters.
The brightest colors of autumn happen when dry, sunny days are followed by cool, dry nights. The season is here and it is time to plan for those memorable October walks that fill your senses with the colors, smells and sounds of a season’s passing. There are few places in Ozaukee that are not beautiful in autumn, but two of the best are also two of our hidden treasures.
Each of these two treasures is more than beautiful in itself any day of the year, but their plentiful sugar maples provide forest canopies that are absolutely stunning. On a blue-sky day, the stunning factor doubles. So where are they?
In an informal survey of “places in Ozaukee residents have heard about before,” Kurtz Woods is at the bottom of the list. Who would expect to go looking for remnants of the deep forests that characterized Ozaukee County in pre-settlement times between two houses in a suburban area?
No one. That’s right. No one. But now you will.
What is this about Ozaukee County being a "Bird City" and why are so many Ozaukee municipalities following suit?
The city of Mequon, the Town of Grafton, the City of Port Washington and our neighboring Village of Newburg have all become part of Bird City Wisconsin in the past four years.
Maybe it is because they understand that the more species of birds an area has, the higher the property values will be. An area that has many bird species needs to have a diverse collection of trees, shrubs and other growing things. Prospective home buyers as well as birds love that diversity of plants and a 2011 study in Lubbock Texas indicated that homes with more than one species of less-than-common birds in the area sold, on average, for about $32,000.00 more than comparable homes without.
Perhaps Bird Cities understand that birds are the indicators of a healthy environment and they are willing to take extra steps to improve the ecological health of their community. The birds are daily reminders that a community has a healthy eco-system, something that more and more people are seeking. The Bird City WI website sums it up well. "Like the proverbial canaries in a coal mine, birds serve as indicators of the ecological health of our planet. Because of their rapid metabolism and wide geographic distribution, birds provide early warning to us of changes in the environment and potentially harmful biological conditions. Robust, diverse bird populations reflect the underlying health of the ecosystem in which they – and we – live. Since we share our planet with all other species, what happens to birds can happen to us."
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!