Fourteen volunteers (including representatives from Ozaukee County Land and Water Management, Ozaukee Treasures Network, Pheasants Forever, Clay Ridge Hunt Club, and Eco-Resource Consulting) planted over 1700 native wetland and aquatic plants on the B. Bruce Krier Conservancy on Saturday, August 15th. This was the third annual volunteer work day, bringing the total native wetland plants installed to nearly 6000 since the first event in 2013. Native aquatic species such as arrowhead, bulrush, pickerelweed, and bur-reed were planted in the water along with several native sedges and wetland grasses which were planted on the shorelines.
This 28-acre floodplain restoration in Belgium Township along both sides of Suckerbrook Creek commenced in 2011 with survey work, planning, and permitting. Over 300,000 cubic yards of colluvium (mineral soil transported from farmland into wetlands during decades of heavy rain events) was excavated from the wetland and land-spread onto adjacent upland cropland. These associated uplands were removed from agricultural use and restored into prairie along with extensive native re-seeding, plant installation, and invasive species management in the wetland. The wetland also hosts three scrapes which are heavily utilized by numerous species of wildlife.
The wetland restoration was the dream of Bruce Krier, who lost his battle with cancer late in 2013. Krier’s family owned this land and utilized it over two generations for vegetable production. Cropping took a heavy toll on the soils and in the early 1990’s Krier began to retire lands from intensive cropping practices and converting them to grasslands. Today, nearly 300 acres of native prairie grasslands have been restored and are managed primarily with the use of prescribed fire.
Since Bruce’s passing, Bruce’s nephew John Rassel is in the process of forming a non-profit organization that will preserve the land, continue with management and restoration efforts, and avail the land for botanical and wildlife research and youth conservation education.
Eco-Resource Consulting, an ecological restoration and consulting firm in Stoughton, Wisconsin oversees restoration and ecological monitoring activities. Future plans include a trail network with interpretive signage, bridges over Suckerbrook Creek, and several infrastructure improvements such as a nature center and pavilion.