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Jeff Veglahn

Jeff Veglahn

Jeff was born and raised in La Crosse, Wis. enjoying what the Mississippi River and wetlands had to offer. He received a B.S. in Ecology from Winona State University in Winona, Minn. After graduating in 2009, he and his wife moved here to Milwaukee. Jeff was hired here at the Urban Ecology Center as the Seasonal Land Steward at Riverside Park in 2011. In January of 2013, he started as the permanent Land Steward for the Menomonee Valley branch. His favorite activities include cooking (eating), fishing, and exploring personal faith based disciplines.

Tuesday, 18 December 2018 11:13

Three Bridges Park: Six Years in the Making

Over the past six years, 24 acres of land near our Menomonee Valley branch were transformed from brownfield to outdoor recreational greenspace along the southern bank of the Menomonee River. Today, people know this area as Three Bridges Park! Where a series of train tracks and piles of rubble once stood, native plant species now flourish and birds, mammals, frogs, toads, butterflies and dragonflies call this park home again. 

Wednesday, 14 February 2018 11:38

The Importance of Snow

Midway through February and we finally have a “Wisconsin Winter”! I don’t know about you, but this time of year is one of the reasons why I love living in Wisconsin. Whether I’m sledding, cross-country skiing, or snowshoeing, I make sure to get outside, along with my dog, when the snow builds up! Not only does the snow make winter more enjoyable, it also helps absorb sound and reflect light to make the whole landscape quieter and brighter.

Not only does the snow make winter months more enjoyable (or tolerable, depending on your point-of-view), it also is very beneficial for ecosystems.

Monday, 16 April 2018 10:58

Seeds of Change

A seed is small and complex, 

And will keep you perplexed, 

On how it relents, 

From seasons to next.

Monday, 29 June 2015 00:00

Soil Sleuthing

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.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015 00:00

Get To Know Land Steward Terminology!

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!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015 00:00

Plant Community Highlight: Seed Dispersion

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.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014 00:00

Plant Community Highlight: Sedge Meadows

In John T. Curtis' book "The Vegetation of Wisconsin," he identifies five major plant communities (southern forests, northern forests, grasslands, savanna and shrub communities, and lesser communities), each with sub-categories. We are going to look at one of the lesser communities (named this not because of lesser ecological value, but more because it occupied less of an acreage compared to forests, grasslands, and savannas) known as a sedge meadow.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014 00:00

Native Plant Highlight – Orange Jewelweed

Orange Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) is part of the Balsaminaceae family, or Touch-me-not family. The members of this family all have the same characteristic where the fruit, or capsule, dehisces (bursts open) explosively when touched, scattering the seeds.  Even though the word "weed" is in the common name of this plant, I wouldn't consider it a weed. It usually coexists very well with other native plants in the same habitat, has some useful value, and even lives here in Riverside Park.

This month let's talk about prairie ecological succession. Succession is the observed change in a species structure of an ecological community over time. For the most part, this change is very slow and happens over the course of 100+ years! When talking about ecological succession, there are two different types of succession: primary and secondary. Primary succession happens when the starting landscape is devoid of vegetation and usually lacking soil, such as lava flows or areas retreated by glaciers. Secondary succession happens when the starting landscape is reduced from an event such as a fire.

I personally feel that the beauty of Xeric prairies (and prairies in general) are often overlooked when compared to other habitats such as forest communities. I think this especially holds true if you ask anyone that has driven through Middle America: "How was the scenery?" I would bet most people would say "There's a whole lot of nothing out there!" This might be true, since today, there are less than 0.1% of natural prairies remaining as opposed to the vast majority that could be found years ago!

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