Preserve Director Gary Brown reported on essential maintenance work in the Preserve during COVID-19, presented a summary of the new Strategic Plan for the Preserve, and previewed the 2021 work season in the Preserve. Volunteers will again be able to help with restoration, garlic mustard pull and plantings, following COVID protocols and registering for events. The Friends Prairie Interns will again work in the Preserve. Gary also previewed the schedule for developing the new Preserve Masterplan, to be completed in Spring 2022.
Emily Arthur, of Eastern Cherokee descent, growing up in the ancestral mountainous lands of North Carolina and Georgia, has a particular interest in observations relating to displacements of species from their traditional places of living, be it birds, animals, or plant species, and the displacements of native people, as well. Her specific message is:
"Art and science share the responsibility of observation and witness. It is through observation that science gives us proof of our material make up. It is through observation that art gives us material proof of our spiritual make up. Encountering a great work of art or a great leap in science changes our perception; it asks us to see and then to see once again, more deeply.”
Arthur illustrated this insight with her case study of the push by developers in California to remove the California gnatcatcher from the list of endangered species, disregarding results of genetic studies in zoological research. Being able to view the laboratory collection of these birds, Arthur transformed her observations into prints (one of these prints is now mounted on the atrium ceiling of the Madison Hilton at Monona Terrace.) Prints, Arthur demonstrated with her slideshow, can lead to a lasting emotional response in the viewer. Printmaking, she maintained, is an extension of observations.
Next, Arthur showed how manipulation of data themselves can deny the truth, and is often used to establish a certain supremacy, usually motivated by the prospect of making a profit. The manipulated observations then can “justify” the elimination of natural habitats of birds as well as other animals and plants, and by extension, the suppression and displacements of human populations. In her art work, she illustrated this insight with California gnatcatchers cast in bronze and bound with ropes, birds without voice, and in parallel, by incorporating in her prints documents of native people expelled from their homelands. For both, birds and people, the ideas of home and place are wrapped up in who we are.
Steve Sentoff, age 70, President of the Friends from 2019-2021, passed away on Monday, April 5, 2021, a few days after he suffered a massive heart attack at Frautschi Point, doing what he loved—restoration work as Preserve Steward. Steve and his soulmate Monica had moved to Madison only a few years earlier, retiring to the place where they had met as graduate students in the Math department. Steve and Monica found ways to share activities and interests throughout their lives. They both joined Bell Laboratories in Chicago. Steve moved from programming to system engineering and Monica moved into software architecture. In their free time, since 1990, they took up dedicated volunteerism and after their retirement in 2005, they turned into professional volunteers, usually dividing their time among two worthwhile organizations.
It began with Earthwatch extended fieldtrips to other countries. Closer to home, they joined the West Chicago Prairie Stewardship Group of the DuPage County Forest Preserve. Steve devoted 25 years to the prairie’s restoration, becoming the leading volunteer site steward.
In parallel to their active restoration work both in Chicago and later at the Lakeshore Nature Preserve, Steve and Monica volunteered one day a week at the Chicago Field Museum, including data entry on Chinese rubbings, Tibetan thangkas and South American pottery, and later at the Wisconsin State Historical Society, where they transcribed 21,000 handwritten ledger entries and helped move the collection to the new State Archive Preservation Facility.
Steve joined the Friends of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve soon after their arrival in Madison and was elected to the Board in 2017. Steve was secretary and took on the presidency in his third year. During his two years as president, he ran exemplary meetings and treated everyone with kindness and respect. He had a way of making people feel welcome and comfortable and was a persistent problem solver.
Steve’s first love was restoration work. He worked countless hours with Preserve staff, be it clearing buckthorn or prescribed fires, and also independently. He helped organize the Friends wildflower plantings, coordinated volunteers, introduced the use of the iNaturalist application and helped initiate the Friends becoming a Clean Lakes Alliance Forecasting Steward at University Bay Boat Launch and pier. And, importantly, he found ways to strengthen communication between the Friends and the UW Preserve staff. We will all miss Steve.
The 2021 Open Mic It's in our Nature was held on February 27, virtually. Over thirty enthusiasts attended this event, and many of them elected to present their poems and writings. Below are a selection of the writings we have organized into an audio trail map throughout the Preserve (map at bottom of page). Though not all writers who attended the event are represented in the audio trail, we thank everyone who presented for their contributions.
Robin Chapman, nature poet and member of the Friends, hosted this virtual meeting.
By Paul Noeldner
I paint you a picture of poplar poles
Milky tan trunks, dark green between
Fluttering tops and bark spotted eyes
Lining the woodland along the roadsides
Meadow patched quilt
Rough fencepost hem
Home for the wild critter and child
Beyond, hidden crows call
Bright streambed rocks
Berry sweet thickets
Fireflies in Winter
Fireflies in winter n the seasons twinkling lights
Glow sparkling embers of life's summer blaze
Nestled hearts beat through long icebound nights
Again in spring from bent brown grass and budding birch arise
A Milkweeds Tale
Springs Soft Milk Sucking Stem
Feeds Summers Monarch of the Glen
Falls Wrapped in Grizzled Cloak
Winters Wind Blows Snow White Smoke
Weaving Fresh New Babys Bowers
Can Your Hear Tundras Honking
Can you hear the Tundras honking
As they end their wild ride
Call out to their wing mates
And touch down soft to glide
On mirrors of quiet waters
To weave a graceful dance
Until with full moon rising
Burst skyward from their trance
• develop and implement a communication plan,
• grow resources to support the mission,
• build strategic partnerships,
• update the 2006 Preserve Facilities Master Plan.
For more details see the Preserve website.
Screen photos and report by Gisela Kutzbach.
Maggi and Laura Berger had their first monitor training session three days earlier with Jeff Koziol, primary monitor of the project. At that time there were 5 beautiful blue eggs in the carefully shaped nest, made from fine grass. These eggs had been incubated over a period of two weeks since May 4 and were close to hatching. What a thrill for us to see the healthy hatchlings three days later. The parents are busy now getting food, mainly insects, and guarding their offspring. On the photo above the male Bluebird sits guard in the beautiful Bur oak nearby. It will be another 20 days of so before the hatchlings are ready to fledge. You can follow the week-by-week monitoring summaries HERE.
"My husband, Dick Dubielzig, and I met the young naturalist and Friends of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve Board Member, Olympia Mathiaparanam, at the entrance to Picnic Point at 5:45 am this morning. Olympia had scraped frost from her windshield, and the thermometer still read in the mid-30s. I was glad for my long underwear and down jacket. We walked down the quiet path toward the end of the Point to observe the sunrise in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Fifty years ago, on the first Earth Day, observers gathered an hour earlier, at 4:45 am and greeted the sunrise at Picnic Point with readings from Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, Henry David Thoreau and religious texts. Our group of 3 paled in comparison, but complied with the restrictions on organized gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On our way, Olympia pointed out with pleasure a solitary grebe floating close to the lakeshore, and an osprey perched on a high branch overlooking University Bay. She conscientiously entered her bird sightings into eBird through her cellphone. In addition to the changed appearance of the path and woods due to the dawn’s dim light, we noted the fresh stumps from the many ash trees that had been removed since I last walked the trail. When we reached the grand fire circle at the end, a vast cloudless sky appeared above us. At 6:05, on schedule, the sun’s rim appeared above the horizon on the far side of Lake Mendota. As the sun rose, the light strengthened and its rays warmed the appearance of all they touched. Fifty years earlier, Earth Day founder, Gaylord Nelson proclaimed, “Our goal…is an environment of decency, quality and mutual respect for all other human beings and all living creatures.”* What better place to appreciate Earth’s biodiversity than the Lakeshore Nature Preserve at this time."
2 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
2 Canada Goose
1 Downy Woodpecker
13 Ring-billed Gull
2 Northern Flicker
3 Common Loon
17 Lesser Scaup
1 Great Blue Heron
2 Blue Jay
3 American Crow
1 Pied-billed Grebe
6 Black-capped Chickadee
2 Mourning Dove
9 Tree Swallow
75 American Coot
Chuck first talked about owls and their diets. Owls eat rodents and other small birds. Some animal matter— like bones and hair— are not digested by the owls, so they regurgitate this in the form of a pellet! Chuck showed attendees intact pellets, as well as the individual bones taken from other owl pellets he had found. Interestingly, Chuck mentioned that the size of the pellets varies across owl species and is correlated to the size of the owl (so Barred Owls tend to make larger pellets than Eastern Screech Owls for example). Chuck also showed attendees some feathers from Wisconsin birds and discussed properties of these feathers (like how some bird species have wing feathers that are frayed on the edge to allow birds to travel silently through the air).
The BioCommons director and staff were very welcoming and helpful, and provided a perfect place for the event, for which we are so grateful. Refreshments were donated by Lillian Tong and the BioCommons offered coffee. The organizers, who had worried about results of this experiment, were happy with the response and hope to repeat the event, perhaps with ideas for improvements. Report by Lillian Tong and Olympia Mathiaparanam. Photos by Tom Yin and Olympia.
Upon arrival at the residence hall, Dr. Bryan went over some of the interesting design aspects of the relatively new dorm and what having an LEED-certified building actually means. Ultimately, the building was designed with sustainability in mind, but like many "sustainable" products the building is not without its shortcomings and impacts. Dr. Bryan tasks his students with using the building and its community of other environmentally-oriented students as a resource to involve themselves in their broader communities and create the best environmental outcomes that they can. The Friends and field trip participants toured the state-of-the-art rooftop greenhouse and learned about how the students use the space in pursuit of their diverse academic interests and campus connections. The Greenhouse Learning Community provides roots for students as they move through their college education, bringing an environmental consciousness with them. Hopefully, the Leopold Residence Hall will continue to live up to its name for future generations of students as well." Report and photo by the Friends host Matt Chotlos.