Coming from the perspective of a human (a true biological juggernaut of adaptability), the past couple of weeks have been a real joy. For a few glorious days, I wore a tank top outside at work (in February!) and today I’m walking in a winter wonderland again. While the particular weather pattern we’ve just experienced here in Milwaukee has been a treat for us humans, for the plants around us, trees and shrubs especially, it will prove to be more of a trial.
You know that old saying: “you can’t judge a book by its cover?” It turns out the same is true of restoration projects like Three Bridges Park. You can’t get the full story just from looking at the “cover” — what’s visible above the surface. What you see above ground doesn’t tell you everything, because the proof is in the pudding ... or in this case, the soil. Three Bridges Park is on the site of a brownfield (a vacant post-industrial parcel of land) in the Menomonee Valley. With every passing year, Three Bridges Park loses its resemblance to a brownfield and gains resemblance to a natural greenspace.
Protection and restoration of the land is an essential part of what we do. Through hands-on work, our Land Stewardship team and volunteers grow healthy native habitats in which animals and plants can thrive. These areas are also important to our environmental education programs. Plus they are a great place to explore the natural world! See for yourself how we are caring for the land.
Thank you for stopping by to read our blogs! This edition won't introduce you to a new native or invasive plant, but introduce you to some terminology that we use as Land Stewardship staff at the Urban Ecology Center. These terms may be used differently at other nature centers; it doesn't mean we (Urban Ecology Center) are right and they are wrong, it just means the terms are used slightly different. Now, let the show begin!
Let's be honest, nature is awesome. The splendor and beauty that it holds is more that we can bear: breathtaking sights like the Grand Canyon, or the smallest ant that can lift 5,000 times its weight. There are things that will only be seen on rare occasions (sun dogs – a crazy light phenomenon), and things that will be taken for granted because it's seen day in and day out (the sunrise). We are going to discuss one of those "everyday" wonders: seed dispersal.
In the spring of each year, all sorts of adorable baby animals can be seen. This spring, I saw baby Great Horned Owls (called owlets), baby White-footed Mice (called pups, pinkies or kittens) and baby Brown Snakes (called snakelets or hatchlings). We don’t usually pay close attention to “baby” plants, but they’re showing up now too!
Ever since the North Avenue Dam was removed in 1996, the Milwaukee River Corridor from Estabrook to downtown has gone through a remarkable transformation. Where once only a few species of fish could live in the highly polluted waters, this stretch is now teeming with life.