Editor's note: Information taken from a press release provided by Treasures of Oz coordinators.
We're off to see the river and wonderful wetlands of Oz on Saturday (June 16) as Treasures of Oz opens eight sites along the Milwaukee River and selected inland bogs and marshes for its 2012 event.
Ozaukee County is home to almost 40 miles of the Milwaukee River. Explore our river banks and miles of winding trails. Learn about this watershed and see the world famous fish habitat restoration complete with engineered fishways. Discover the natural beauty that comes when a river is restored to natural rapids with dam removal. Travel upriver to see fish spawning areas.
Ozaukee is fortunate to have close to 30 percent of its acreage in wetlands, providing rich wildlife habitat whileproviding water filtration, water recharge and flood control. Wetlands can be mysterious and we are highlighting several very unique examples, which you will find are home to a myriad variety of flora and fauna — a veritable treasure chest of wonders.
This day is an opportunity for hiking, photography, geocaching and learning. Find out how our waters impact your everyday life. Discover new land and water trails to follow and places to explore. Expand your knowledge of how all these components fit together and how you can be part of all this that makes Ozaukee County one of the best places to live and raise a family in this country.
Here are the eight places:
- Tendick Nature Park: Flying discs, flying arrows and quick waters; Explore Ozaukee County’s "park in two parts," where fitness options are everywhere. In the west park, follow its trails and boardwalks through cedar wetlands and the upland maple beech forest. Try your hand at disc golf on the county’s only professional 18 hole disc golf course. Home to a busy cross country course, sand volleyball court and cross-country skiing, this park also has plenty of room for picnickingwith grills and lots of seating. In the east park, check out the archery area with two ground level and oneelevated platform ranges. Investigate the canoe/kayak launch and fishing areas on the Milwaukee River. Andrew Struck, Director of Planning and Parks and our Tendick Treasures Team will be there to guideyou around this wonderful park.
- Riveredge Nature Preserve: Visit Riveredge and you will find one of the most diverse ecosystems in the State. The 380-acre beautiful sanctuary includes eleven miles of trails around ponds and fens, through woodlands and prairies, throughthe unique 47 acre Riveredge Creek and Ephemeral Pond State Natural Area and a mile and a half of trails along the Milwaukee River. Stop by the Sturgeon Rearing facility and learn what Riveredge is doing to restore a breeding population of lake sturgeon in the Milwaukee River. Sturgeon Trailer Tours from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Work as a Habitat Healer near Riveredge Creek from 9 a.m. until noon. Phenology walk with senior naturalist at noon. All fees waived for this event and you are welcome to walk the preserve from dawn until dusk.
- Cedarburg Bog: A State of Wisconsin Treasure; The 1,656-acre Cedarburg Bog State Natural Area is a conifer swamp, the largest example of the leastabundant type of wetland in southeast Wisconsin. It contains large expanses of cedar-tamarack swampforest, in addition to marshes, shrub carr, swamp hardwoods, and both deep and shallow bog lakes, plusthe unusual feature of a string bog, which may be the southernmost string bog in North America. Hike the half mile, ADA compliant trail to beautiful Watts Lake, complete with interpretive signs. Membersof the Friends of Cedarburg Bog’s board of directors will offer special guided walks at 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., noon and 1:30 p.m. The first walk will pay special attention to the bog's birds, while the others will cover awider range of flora, fauna and natural history.
- Bike Path Island: Recently named - its first celebration; The Bureau of Land Management has jurisdiction of 500-600 unsurveyed islands in about 15 rivers and 20 lakes throughout Wisconsin. Eleven such islands are in the Milwaukee River, including Bike Path Island, which is underneath part of the Interurban Trail in Grafton. Bike Path Island is a critical species habitat site. Paddlers are welcome to stop, rest and explore on this island. Investigate this little known island in the heart of Ozaukee. Discover the research being done in the county on water quality and species monitoring and the ways the results are used. This island sends amessage to us about stewardship of publicly held land.
- Grafton Historical Corner: Site of the former Chair Factory and Milwaukee Dam & the birthplace of Grafton Blues; When things are lost, treasures sometimes emerge. Four stories tell the tale: of the river, the dam, the factory and the blues. Will Wawrzyn, DNR fisheries biologist tells the story of the river and the factories and the dam, drawingupon both global and local perspectives. Hear how the river area developed, declined and re-emerged. Learn how dams affect water quality and habitat. See the former dam site, then perhaps travel north onyour own to see the Bridge Street Dam and then south where Lime Kiln Dam was recently removed. The Grafton Blues Association will shed light on the story from 1916 to 1932 when the chair factory changed over to a recording studio and the blues were given voice in Grafton. So much history in ones mall space. Talks will be on the hour
- Mequon-Thiensville Dam: Bringing the fish back home; Visit one of the most dramatic pieces of the Milwaukee River Watershed Fish Passage Program. The project enables fish to migrate to historic spawning-rearing areas upstream of the dam. This will bolster fish populations and increase recreational angling opportunities in the Milwaukee River, its estuary andtributary streams, as well as Lake Michigan. Walk along the meandering fishway. Staff from Ozaukee County’s Fish Passage Program will provide a comprehensive overview of the fishway, showcase the underwater camera, and provide a discussion of Milwaukee River fisheries and efforts by the Program and other groups to improve the overall ecologicalproductivity of the Milwaukee River Watershed. Once you have completed your visit, you will be invited to the Mequon River Advisory Committee’s intriguing pontoon boat tour (river conditions permitting) of the natural fisheries upstream of the dam — which answers the question of ‘where do the fish go after leaving the fishway.’
- Ulao Waterfowl Production Area: Nesting and Migration Haven; This 42 acre site lies adjacent to Lion’s Den Nature Preserve. A Leopold Wetland Management District,it is under the ownership and stewardship of the U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service. Scoters, loons and mostspecies of ducks can be seen here at different times along with dozens of species of song and waterbirds. Andy Holschbach, Director of Ozaukee County Land and Water Management will be on hand to talkabout this unique gem. He will be joined by experts from U.S. Fish and Wildlife. Take a short walk after into Lion’s Den to the towering bluffs of the Lake Michigan coast.
- Forest Beach Migratory Preserve: Restoration and Celebration: Restoration Tours 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Forest Beach Migratory Preserve is located along a vital migratory corridor, known as the Lake Michigan Flyway, which connects Canada and the Arctic Ocean to South America. Once agolf course and country club, this 116 acre tract was purchased by the Ozaukee-Washington Land Trust (OWLT) with the intention of restoring wetlands and native plant communities that will help protect Lake Michigan water quality and provide feeding habitat and refuge for a projected 102 species of native and migratory birds. Hike trails through this emerging restoration, a 5 star bird hotel with nine planned habitat areas. Climb the hawk watch platform on the east and the wetland and songbird observation deck on the west. Learn about the water level design features and landscape plantings. Tours available as groups gather. Celebration 1 to 6: Visit the exhibits and learn about the many environmental organizations, projects and earth-friendlyservices in and around Ozaukee. Meet some of the raptors from Pine View Wildlife Rehabilitation Center and learn about wildlife with thecenter’s director, Jeanne Lord. Gather round and enjoy some bluegrass and old time rock ‘n roll music by String-A-Long in the afternoon.Enjoy some great food prepared by Smokin’Joe’s - Chuck’s of Thiensville. Shop our Silent Auction for take-home treasures including some fine art from area artists. Turn in your passport,which you can download prior to the event from our website, for free raffle tickets to win wonderful prizes from Ozaukee area merchants, restaurants and attractions.
Visit www.treasuresofoz.org for more information.