Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Winterized Wisconsin Countryside

Sunset Countryside Panorama, originally uploaded by jw_creations.

The snow covered, undulating terrain of Southern Wisconsin - carved by many millenia of erosion from what was once flat ocean bottom, many millions of years ago.

Black Earth Creek, originally uploaded by jw_creations.

Flowing within an agricultural valley, the Black Earth Creek Fishery Area is considered a Class 1 trout stream, and is constantly managed for stream restoration, trout habitat, and public access.

Island Sandbars

Island Sandbars, originally uploaded by jw_creations.

Sandbars and floodplain forests along the lower Wisconsin River. Taken from Cactus Bluff, within the Ferry Bluff State Natural Area.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Winter Over Lake Monona

Winter Over Lake Monona, originally uploaded by jw_creations.

Wisconsin Capital, originally uploaded by jw_creations.

" Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have data recording the formation and melting of ice on Lakes Mendota and Monona in Madison since 1855. The timespan of this record makes it an invaluable resource for documenting the local impacts of long-term climate change.

The records show significant year-to-year variability in the length of the ice-cover season, but there is a clear trend of fewer ice-cover days over time. Overall, the average number of days of ice cover on the Madison lakes has decreased by around 29-35 days over the past 150 years. Significantly, the longest ice seasons on record are all clustered in the first few years of the record, while most of the shortest seasons fall towards the end of the record.

The impacts of reduced ice cover are ecologically significant for lakes and their aquatic species. Ice cover regulates lake temperatures, dissolved oxygen levels, light penetration, and many other ecological parameters that govern growth and reproduction of species and interspecies relationships. Because ice cover reduces wintertime evaporation, it helps to maintain a lake’s water level. A lack of ice cover means that winter winds can make contact with lake waters, disturbing fish nesting sites, and impacting the ways lakes stratify, or form layers of water ordered along a temperature gradient. No ice cover also means no snow cover, allowing sunlight to penetrate the water and increase its temperature. In turn, warmer water temperatures may make the Madison lakes more hospitable to non-native species. For example, University of Wisconsin lakes researcher Jim Kitchell has documented an increase in numbers of sea lampreys, an invasive pest and lake trout parasite, as Lake Superior’s waters warm." -ClimateWisconsin.org

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Best Way to Spend an Afternoon

The Best Way to Spend an Afternoon, originally uploaded by jw_creations.

Foraging Waterfowl, originally uploaded by jw_creations.

Remnant of Ancient Errosion, originally uploaded by jw_creations.

Devil's Lake State Park’s bluffs are part of the Baraboo Range, which scientists believe were formed 1.6 billion years ago, making them one of the most ancient rock outcrops in North America.

These ancient hills are formed of quartzite rock, which consists of grains of sand tightly cemented together. According to geologists, the sand was deposited by rivers as they drained into shallow seas covering this area a billion years ago. As the sand accumulated, it first formed sandstone (a porous sedimentary rock) and then, under great heat and pressure, became quartzite (a non-porous metamorphic rock).

Prior to the last Ice Age roughly 15,000 years ago, the ancient Wisconsin River flowed between these hills before being diverted to it's present location to the East by massive continental ice sheets. The resulting terminal moraines effectively dammed the river at the north and south ends, and formed the lake that resides here today.

Stillness at Baxters Hollow

Stillness at Baxters Hollow, originally uploaded by jw_creations.

In March of 1995, The Nature Conservancy designated the Baraboo hills as a “Last Great Place,” one of only 75 outstanding ecosystems in the western hemisphere and today as you know, we can explore this great place at one of Wisconsin’s most popular state parks, Devil’s Lake. However there are some smaller tucked away areas just perfect for those of us looking to avoid the crowds and really feel alone with nature. One little known area is just west of Devil’s Lake State Park and is known as Baxter’s Hollow.

Baxter’s Hollow is managed by the Nature Conservancy and is a dedicated State Natural area with one marginally maintained trail. This is not a public park as such, but a preserve. The trail is often muddy and is not meant for extensive public traffic. It is most often used by student groups studying the Wisconsin Environment.

Baxter’s Hollow is notable for the large area of deep forest and the mountain-like Otter creek within. At Baxter’s Hollow there are still moments when you can stand and listen to nothing but the breeze rolling through the hollow and the occasional songs of the native birds. Baxter’s Hollow is your best chance to bypass the summer tourists and explore the quiet natural wonder of our beautiful state.

Wisconsin Countryside

A Winters Flow, originally uploaded by jw_creations.

Encompassing more than 24,000 square miles in the states of Minnesota,
Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois, the Driftless Area is one of America’s unique
natural resource treasures. Bypassed by the last continental glacier, which
flattened Midwestern landscapes and left behind large deposits of soil and rock—or
drift—the area was, as Ted Lesson aptly described it in his book Jerusalem Creek:
Journeys into Driftless Country, “an island of land rising from a sheet of continental ice.”