By Marjie Tomter
It is finally spring and planning is in full force for this year’s Treasures of Oz event. This year it is all about Ozaukee waters and how they come together in “The Watershed.” We will be looking at smart planning tools to protect our waters, what’s swimming around, what allows water to return to the aquifer, and how we can interact in ways that keep our waters healthy. By the end of the tour, visitors will know what their watershed is all about, which one they live in, how they can improve their watershed, and actually have an idea of how the waters come together throughout the entire county.
One of the most spectacular watershed features in Ozaukee is the Cedarburg Bog, and this year you can walk into the Bog on the UW Field Station Boardwalk. This was developed for science education and research and is rarely open to the public, but on June 17th it will be, and you can explore it with naturalists, like Kate Redmond, who really know and love the Bog and are excited to share it with you.
Lake Michigan is part of the tour, this time at Harrington Beach State Park. Park staff will show you some of the recent changes to the park. You can learn about water safety with the staff from the Kettle Moraine Feith Family YMCA, and Wisconsin Coastal Management will get you in on some of the wonderful work they are doing to protect the waters of our lake.
Ozaukee Planning and Parks staff will be your hosts at the west side of Tendick Park, where they will focus on the new prairie that was planted thanks to the generosity of Pheasants Forever. Don’t you wonder how prairie plants fit into the watershed and why Pheasants Forever is “into” prairies? Think “soils” and “aquifer” and “habitat.” Docents will show you the new Kestral and Bluebird nesting boxes. Perhaps you would like to help out by monitoring those nests?
The Treasures of Oz 2017 Eco-Tour is pleased to introduce an exciting watershed-based planning tool developed by the Mequon Partners in Preservation for the City of Mequon, which can become a model for other communities. That will be at Spirit Lake Nature Preserve, OWLT’s newest Ozaukee preserve located just off Bonniwell Road between the river and Green Bay Road.
Treasures would not be complete with a Critters component. Yes, there will be birding components: there will be dragonfly walks at Forest Beach, and we will showcase the latest in smart gardens - Bug Hotels - to support pollinators and other 6-legged garden helpers. Jeanne Lord will present one of her engaging talks at 10:30 am at Forest Beach with her Raptors of Pine View. Randy Hetzel will be there all day with his diverse crew of critters - the kind you rarely see in your neighborhoods. Our Ozaukee County game warden will be out at Ehlers park, along with experts from the Ozaukee Fish Passage Program. Fish? They will be there as well.
The Celebration at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve not only offers lots of great exhibits and presentations, but also some good food (this year with the Blue Cow Creperie) and music (old-time rock & roll/bluegrass from Steve and Friends), as well as a fun silent auction; it is also the place to trade passport stamps for raffle tickets.
Treasures 2017 is a cross between an eco-tour and a science expo. You can go just for the joy of experiencing 6 beautiful and diverse natural areas, or go to learn about the workings of the watershed through up close, real-life experience and interaction with top science docents. Go for both! This event is always a great opportunity for birding, photography, finding new recreational opportunities, and simply enjoying some of the best natural treasures in Oz.
For more information and passports, visit http://treasuresofoz.org