Friday, March 16, 2012

Riverside Park was burned on Wednesday!

I learned after the fact that the Urban Ecology Center (with help from the Milwaukee Fire Dept. and others) had conducted a controlled burn in parts of Riverside Park. I wish I could have been there to witness the event. As is explained on the UEC website, burning is important for long term sustainability of certain habitats and native species. (Before we humans interfered it happened naturally, of course.)

Although I missed the burn itself, I had to go check out the aftermath and take a few photos.

The burn is kept at ground level and even during natural burns established trees and hardy native shrubs seldom suffer for it.

Before long (especially with the early spring we're having this year) new shoots will sprout up amongst the ashes. Native species withstand the effects of burning better than exotics.

While I was there I met a nice young volunteer who explained why many of the trees in the park have blue bags hanging from them. These are sugar maple trees that the UEC taps for maple syrup, which they process themselves right at the center.

But if you want to see that you better head out there soon. They will be having a pancake breakfast on Saturday, March 24.

We're all invited. (Go to the UEC website for more info.)

While you're in Riverside Park to see the burn and the maples being tapped, make sure you wander on down along the Milwaukee River to see how other strategies are being used to control invasive species.

Large swaths of the flood plain have been covered in black plastic sheeting. No, it's not an elaborate environmental sculpture project, a la Christo. It's to control reed canary grass.

There's always something constructive going on around the Urban Ecology Center.

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