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Hartland starts burning marsh brush piles

Paul Mozina, right, and Pat Witkowski get their third pile of wood started in the Hartland Marsh Wednesday, Feb.6, 2013. Mozina, Witkowski, and other volunteers were in the Marsh burning the remnants of buckthorn trees that were cut down to allow non-invasive trees and plants to thrive in the marsh.

Paul Mozina, right, and Pat Witkowski get their third pile of wood started in the Hartland Marsh Wednesday, Feb.6, 2013. Mozina, Witkowski, and other volunteers were in the Marsh burning the remnants of buckthorn trees that were cut down to allow non-invasive trees and plants to thrive in the marsh. Photo By Todd Ponath

Feb. 13, 2013

Village of Hartland - A small crew of public works employees and volunteers from the Ice Age Trail Alliance (IATA) started burning multiple piles of brush in the Hartland Marsh a week ago , and were planning to burn more piles this week.

The City of Delafield Common Council is concerned that the burning could affect water quality in the Bark River and in Lake Nagawicka, and on Feb. 8 sent a letter to the village expressing its concerns.

Last month, the Village Board had agreed to pursue two types of burns in the marsh: brush pile burns to get rid of the hundreds of brush piles scattered throughout the area, and, at a later date, maintenance burns to control invasive species.

At Monday's Village Board meeting, Village Administrator Dave Cox said the topography of the land on which most of the brush piles lie would likely cause any runoff from the piles to end up in the village's detention pond on the west side of Cottonwood Avenue just north of Lindenwood Drive.

Village President David Lamerand said the village should continue to move forward with burning the piles. When planning begins for maintenance burns, which would involve burning large swaths of the marsh, Lamerand said the village would consult with the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to ensure that proper techniques would be used.

The brush piles accumulated in the marsh during years of efforts by volunteer Paul Mozina and other volunteers, including students from Arrowhead High School, to rid the wetlands area of invasive species. Mozina had spent most weekends from 2004 to 2011 cutting buckthorn, garlic mustard and other invasive species from the area.

Mozina routinely burned most of his cuttings until 2009, when he was asked by village officials to stop burning after the village received complaints from neighboring property owners about the smoke. After Mozina stopped burning, the piles started to accumulate, which led to more complaints from neighbors about having to look at the piles.

Over the past few years, many of the piles had been chipped up and the materials hauled out, but hundreds of piles remain.

Village ordinance allows burns for forest and prairie management, but until last month, the village's informal ban against the practice remained in place. However, Village Administrator Dave Cox was recently told by an IATA official that the ability to do maintenance burning would likely make it much easier for the association to find another agency willing to take ownership of the property.

About 60 piles were burned last week.

According to Cox, DNR approval was not needed for the brush pile burning, although the DNR was notified that the burning would take place. Waukesha County dispatch and IATA officials were also notified about the work.

Photos of the area before last week's burn and a video taken afterward can be found on Mozina's blog at www.scuppernongspringsnaturetrail.com/2013/02/06. Mozina also works to control invasives in the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail area in the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest.

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Weekend Happenings

Featured this week:  

The Art of the Bicycle: Dec. 17-20, Delafield Arts Center, 719 Genesee St., Delafield. Diane Lehman, Peter Kudlata and Wheel & Sprocket. Gallery Hours: Wednesday through Friday: 11am-4pm; first and third Saturdays of each month: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and by appointment. Free. http://www.delafieldartscenter.org/.

Country Christmas Outdoor Drive-through Lights Display: 5-9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, 5-10 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and holidays through Dec. 31. Country Springs Hotel, 2810 Golf Road, Pewaukee. Wisconsin’s largest drive-through holiday lights event features more than a million holiday lights along a mile-long trail that winds through the woods, Includes animated figures and holiday scenes. Call (262) 970-5398 for details., $15-$25. $15 per carload, $25 limo, mini-coach or large van http://www.thecountrychristmas.com.

Nutcracker Ballet: 7 p.m. Dec. 19; 1 p.m., 7 p.m. Dec. 20; 2 p.m. Dec. 21, Oconomowoc Arts Center, 641 East Forest Street, Oconomwoc. Mainstage Academy of Dance performs this beloved Tchaikovsky ballet, a holiday classic the whole family will enjoy. Visit www.theoac.net for more information or tickets. $14-$16 http://www.wedancemainstage.com 

Tom Heideman’s Swamp Party: 9:30 p.m. Dec. 20, Delafield Brewhaus, 3832 Hillside Drive, Delafield. For more information call (262) 646-7821.

Updates to this calendar are made weekly Monday afternoon. 

 

All weekend happenings.