By Marjie Tomter
Treasures of Oz is one fun-filed day that may change your life! Discover things that enrich your life, learn to destress in nature, find opportunities for recreation and meaningful volunteering, have a memorable adventure, and connect with others who love the outdoors and natural places. This event is free and family-friendly.
Treasures of Oz is again celebrating the surprising treasures sites of Ozaukee County on June 16th. The day is focused on Ozaukee’s Other Coast, our great Milwaukee River that runs from the top to the bottom of the county. There are 7 sites this year. You may want to take them all in or just pick the ones that pique your interest. Download a passport after May 1st from treasuresofoz.org. Collect stamps and trading cards at each site. Passport stamps can be exchanged at the Forest Beach Migratory Preserve for free raffle tickets.
The Milwaukee River Watershed Fish Passage Program. Location: At the dam in Thiensville Village Park at 250 Elm Street in Thiensville. Ozaukee has an internationally recognized model program in reconnecting the streams and waterways that were separated as communities grew and lands were farmed. Ozaukee lost many of its fish and acquatic species because of this. To date, the Program and its partners have removed or remediated 286 impediments to fish and aquatic life passage, restoring access to over 132 miles of in-stream habitat and thousands of acres of wetland habitat. Come see the fish passage engineered around the dam, discover the underwater camera that let’s you “fish” from home and more. Matt Aho and staff from the MRWFPP will be on hand to tell you about this landmark program.
Bike Path Island. Location: Just east of Green Bay Road and under the Ozaukee Interurban Trail Bridge. Park at the Grafton Aquatic Center and walk on the trail (just north of the parking lot) east across Green Bay Road. Did you know that Ozaukee has federally owned islands in the Milwaukee River? Visit this one, Bike Path Island, with staff from the Bureau of Land Management.
Bratt Woods. Location: Just northeast of Bike Path Island and the Interurban Trail. Follow the directions for Bike Path Island and just walk a little further east. Bratt Woods Nature Preserve is owned by the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust. Land Trust staff will explain how OWLT is protecting thousands of acres and creating some (32 to date) public preserves in this area. Learn about Shinrin-yoku, a way of de-stressing in nature that has become part of basic medical practice in Japan and is only recently becoming known in this country. You can easily spend time doing this incredibly simple activity in Bratt Woods and make it part of your lifestyle.
The Ozaukee Interurban Trail. Location: Right above Bike Path Island and next to Bratt Woods. It runs the entire length of Ozaukee County and connects to the Oak Leaf Trail in Milwaukee County on the south and the Sheboygan Interurban Trail on the north. This trail is a great biking trail and is popular for both running and walking year round. Parts are good for cross-country skiing in snow season.
Celebrate Riveredge Nature Center’s 50 years of serving Ozaukee! Location: 4458 County Hwy. Y, Saukville, 53080. Riveredge’s Mary Hollebeck and Naturalist Kate Redmond will be on hand at Riveredge to show you their new river’s edge educational structure, a newer floating dock, the famed sturgeon-rearing facility and tell you about their stretch of this beautiful river.
Hawthorne Hills HH Peters Camp and Shady Lane State Natural Area. Who knew this park had so much to offer besides it classy golf course? Location: 4880 County Rd I, 53080, Saukville. Shady Lane Natural Area, on the banks of the river, offers trails through a pristine woods which remains very much as it was in pre-settlement times. Andrew Struck and Ozaukee Park staff will be on hand to talk about birding and tree identification. Milwaukee Riverkeeper will be there to share their expertise on the river and water trails. Down the trail is the HH Peters Youth Camp, a little know Ozaukee facility that can be rented for youth group camping. Milwaukee Riverkeeper will have more information there and park staff will acquaint you with this beautiful facility. You can visit HH Peters, Shady Lane or both.
Forest Beach Migratory Preserve. Location: 4970 Country Club Rd, Port Washington, WI 53074. While this 116 acre preserve borders our Lake Michigan Coast, it has much to offer on this day. Jeanne Lord will introduce visitors to the raptors of Pineview Wildlife Rehabilitation at 9:00 am. Randy Hetzel and his critters will be around all day. The new Monarch Project will demonstrate how of raise monarch butterflies and offer low cost kits to do just that. There will be lots of exhibits from other environmental organizations, music by Steve & Friends, the beloved Silent Auction that supports this event, and tasty food & beverages. Free raffle tickets are given here in exchange for passport stamps collected on the tour. BIcycle riding visitors get double stamps.
Sites are open from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. The celebration at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve runs from 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. To learn more about the Treasures of Oz Eco Tour, visit: https://treasuresofoz.org/2018-eco-tour