Thursday, April 15, 2021

A Ride Through the White River Marsh

Even though the country is getting back to normal, we aren't quite ready.  My husband Mike and I have had both vaccines and feel comfortable seeing our family who were also vaccinated, but we are not ready to go shopping in stores or eating in restaurants.  I should say I'm more than ready, but we don't trust that a lot of other people are taking the virus as seriously as they should.  Today I just needed to get out of the house for a while.  We decided to take a ride.  We headed out of town toward the White River Marsh.  We had heard that a lot of logging had occurred and wanted to check it out.

The White River Wildlife area is a big 12,000 acre property in Green Lake and Marquette counties.  It consists of marsh land, meadows,  hardwood forests and habitat to a lot of birds and wildlife.  It is open to the public except for a small area which is sometimes home to whooping cranes.  There is a rustic dirt road that loops through the property.  We have traveled through there often.  This trip was not the same.  The area is being logged out.  It looks like a tornado hit the area and took out thousands of mature trees.  It is so sad looking. There are piles of cut logs stacked along the roadway and debris is everywhere.

It was later in the afternoon so we didn't think we would encounter any workers or trucks.  We were wrong.  About half way through we came across a big double trailer semi blocking the single lane road.  Fortunately there was a parking area nearby, so we pulled over and watched.  The worker we watched was very skilled.  He picked up a log or two and placed it carefully in position on the truck.

The piles of logs were all sorted.  Some were marked oak pulp, some said hickory and others with a variety of abbreviations or the names of lumber yards they were being shipped to.

Now the question is why this is being done.  I am not sure.  I found this on the Wisconsin DNR website. The information isn't very clear or well written but it appears it is just a decision made to manage the area.  "White River Sedge Meadow features the largest southern sedge meadow in Wisconsin, and contains a full variety of environmental gradients due to the extensive size of the natural area. The wetland complex contains a deep marsh with cat-tails and tussock sedge and contains a good variety of emergent aquatic species to the south. Scattered shrub-carr islands are also present. Because of its size, White River Sedge Meadow has been identified as the best opportunity within Wisconsin to manage wet meadow birds, including many that are rare or uncommon. Thousands of sandhill cranes stage here every fall before their migration south. Scattered along the White River are patches of floodplain forest, which harbor rare birds. Other breeding birds include veery, prothonotary warbler, American redstart, and northern oriole. White River Sedge Meadow is owned by the DNR and was designated a State Natural Area in 2002.  Current management programs include wetland restoration and water level manipulation in the impoundments, upland dry prairie restoration to promote Karner blue butterflies and other grassland related wildlife, oak savannah restoration. Mourning dove habitat manipulation for banding and hunting opportunities on sunflower and other crop fields."  

They probably have a method to this madness and after a few years of recovery, we may understand.  Right now it just looks like a big mess.  No wonder we are seeing wildlife that we have not seen before like bobcat and bear.  There are also a lot more owls.  Maybe they are being forced elsewhere.  This may not be the reason but if this is being done here, it's probably being done around the state.  

It was a nice couple hours out of the house and gave us a lot to think about.