Brad Leibov of the Liberty Prairie Foundation did a great job of explaining the economic and environmental reasons why land trusts and other public land holders ought to seriously consider using some of their acres for sustainable food production. Here were a few points:
1. The comparison of the amount of food for the table produced in Lake County,Illinois, compared to the amount outsourced, mostly from California, was staggering. Keep in mind that Lake County is positioned near Chicago much like Ozaukee is to Milwaukee. Most food eaten by local residents travels around 1500 miles to get to the table.
3. There is a solidly growing market for local food and for organic food.
4. Most local farming in both Illinois and Wisconsin is commodity farming (grain/ corn etc) that does to the national and international markets.
5. The cash return on an acre of table food crop is way higher than ( can't remember the numbers..around $2000+) compared to commodity farming, which may be around $234.) Someone who farms for local food can make a decent living on significantly fewer acres than someone in commodity farming can.
6. Both sustainable and organic farming practices do a great job of restoring and improving soils, possibly much better than simply returning them to prairie or such. (The rate would certainly be faster.)
7. Land for table food farming can be easily mixed within conservation lands, very different from what is needed by commodity farming.
Things that can be done to support local food farming:
1. Land trusts can obtain agricultural lands, place conservation/agricultural easements on them, and then sell them to farmers.
2. They can engage in long-term leasing of their own held lands for farming. They can look at this as opportunities to restore the soil and know that sustainable practices will not harm local water.
3. They might consider rotational grazing as a method to manage open lands - a method that can add to soil quality.
There were many examples given of current successes and projects as well as resources in this area. Many questions were asked and there was a lot of discussion.
Other items of note at the meeting:
1. Ozaukee County and partners through the OTN are embarking on a GIS mapping project that will create a data base for land restoration and/ or protection - combining project areas from many sources and mapping techniques that can evaluate parcels for soil, habitat, species..all kinds of information to support evaluation. Andrew Struck is the go to person on this initiative if your organization would like to be involved.
2. Dale Buser recapped many of the achievements of OTN to date, including grant support, an invasive species initiative, and multiple networking conferences which have led to partnership opportunities. OTN is in its third year of operation.
3. Update on the Bruce Krier Restoration. Although Bruce passed away in December, the project is continuing. Bruce's family have embraced it and seeing the project's completion and will keep it as a protected area.
4. There is a new resource in the area. It is Green Farm Stand, which is a free resource, like a Craigslist, for local produce and similar things. Erin Ortize created it and Dave Bishop has worked with her to make it happen. This will make it easy to find local food beyond the farmers' Markets. Check it out : http://greenfarmstand.org
5. The Fund for Lake Michigan http://www.fundforlakemichigan.org/about-the-fund/establishment-structure needs "Friends" to express support for it right now. We will be posting information on our website. Although it was newly created in 2008/9 as a method to offset damages to the lake from the Oak Creek power plant - it has been putting around four million dollars annually through funded projects to improve the lake and related waters. In the process, it has created over 200 jobs. Its funding was set up at the end of the litigation to protect the lake and was slated to run until 2035. Recently there have been moves by the PSC, on its own initiative, that make this appear to be uncertain. It is complicated, but the Fund is seeking our support as organizations and as individuals (NOT financial) to support their work as beneficial to the economy and to the lake. Here is a chance to add your name and your organizations name as a supporter.
COMING SOON: There have been major changes to the Farm Bill that make a difference in how our organizations will work in obtaining land etc. It offers some new opportunities and we may do well to rethink our old strategies. To that end, OTN will be creating another conference/ panel discussion to explore what that means for all of us. Shawn Graff and Pat Marchese are the planners on this. You will be getting more information
Returning to the Wisdom of Our Past
sponsored by Unitarian Church North's Green Committee
Saturday, March 22, 2014
8:30 AM – 4:00 PM
at The Schlitz Audubon Nature Center
Learn how to harvest the wisdom of our past by caring for deceased loved ones at home and returning their remains to Earth using the age-old practice of natural burial. Caring for them in this way is not only the last act of love but the first step in healing. Local professionals will share with you their experiences, explain what's possible today locally, and provide you with plenty of resources. The day will include screening the film, "A Family Undertaking" and the following speakers:
Kevin Corrado – Natural Path Sanctuary Coordinator, Verona, WI; a nature preserve burial ground affiliated with the Farley Center for Peace, Justice and Sustainability
David Brenner – Manager, Prairie Home Cemetery located in Waukesha, WI ,currently offering natural burials in a restored prairie and the traditional cemetery
Jeff Kleczka – Funeral Director, Prasser Kleczka Funeral Homes, is following the return to natural burial and in-home care for the deceased movements very closely and will share his perspectives
Margaret Brill – trained volunteer for in-home care for the deceased and ritual planning
Cost: $30 before March 15th; $35 after March 15th
Lunch included; Reservations Required
To Register, call John at 262-377-3358
Mail checks to UCN Green Burial Workshop,
13800 N. Port Washington Rd., Mequon, WI 53097
For More Info: Visit
Schlitz Audubon Nature Center
1111 E. Brown Deer Road
Bayside, WI 53217
Ozaukee County and the entire state of Wisconsin birding community were saddened at Noel Cutright's departure from our midst.
Perhaps the best of so many tributes to Noel is this one that begins " He knew why migratory warblers traveling north from the Caribbean and South America found Wisconsin such a perfect place to land. They travel by night, Noel Cutright said. "When it gets light they say, 'Uh-oh, I'm over water. I need to find land.' That's why the western shore of Lake Michigan is so important for migrant birds,..." by Jan Uerbelherr that ran in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal. We would print it here but for copyright concerns, so please check out this link it is a beautiful tribute.
Noel's service was held at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve, home of the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory, the most recent addition to his long history of accomplishments. Hundreds of people came to share stories about Noel and the wonderful legacy that he left.
Noel will be both greatly missed and always remembered by all of us in Ozaukee, as a mentor, an innovator, a visionary and a crack ornithologist. Noel's presence stood solidly behind so many of our organizations. Even he understood the magic of his endorsement; he worked to be sure that the Riveredge Bird Club, which he founded, made the initial donation to a start-up to ensure it would succeed. He never missed.
Our most recent OTN gathering focused on two projects, one of which was the Krier Wetland Restoration in Belgium. Clay Frazer and Steve Hjort not only talked about the restoration itself, but how they worked through all kinds of weather as time was of the essence. Bruce was fighting cancer and this wetland restoration, the largest private wetland restoration in Wisconsin, was his dream. He wanted to see it to completion. Besides the wetland restoration, his legacy includes the Bruce Krier Foundation, which provides grants and scholarships to education and community projects.
Bruce passed away on December 5, 2013.
and Legacies Begun
Town of Grafton Legacy Trail
The Town of Grafton recently gave a name to its trail in progress - the Grafton Legacy Trail, so named because it will take years to complete and because it is a gift to future residents to enjoy the open spaces that have drawn current residents to live the town, something they almost take for granted. The trail is currently about a mile in length, with another mile or so under easement and waiting for construction. The entire trail is mapped and will run a little over 15 miles from the north end to the south end of the Town when. It is a multi-use trail and includes horseback riding to meet the Town's long-standing and growing equestrian presence.
The Ulao and Mole Creeks Re-meanders
The Milwaukee River Watershed Fish Passage Program is, among other things, funding work on both Ulao Creek and Mole Creek.
Parts of Ulao Creek were trenched for farming convenience and a section was buried for interstate construction. The area just north of Hwy. 60/Ulao Road and extending north of Arrowhead Road is being rerouted into a lovely meander, similar to what it was in pre-settlement times. Along with the meander, wetland scrapes will extend the spawning areas for the fish that are returning as a result of the Fish Passage Program's work in Ozaukee County.
This work is being done on private lands with owner contracts. Ulao Creek land owners are very excited about the project. Most are members of the Ulao Creek Partnership, which has worked for years to improve the health of this beautiful little creek and watershed. UCP is very much involved in partnering with this effort. Andrew Struck and Matt Aho are our OTN connections on this project, along with August Hoppe and Paul Helms from Ulao Creek Partnership.
Mole Creek is experiencing a similar reconstruction just south of Hillcrest Road in the Town of Saukville. The goal of this project is to create habitat that will support cold to cool-water fish and other aquatic life, including trout and to provide riparian habitat for wildlife. Willl Wawrzyn and Andy Holschbach are our OTN connections for Mole Creek.