DETOUR UPDATE: Michigan Street is closed. To reach the Collins Learning Center take County T across the highway to Big Creek Road, turn right. Turn right again at Lily Bay Road which will take you to Michigan.
Is it spring yet? No….not until we hear the first peep of a spring peeper. We love our frogs at Crossroads because they are vital to a healthy ecosystem.
According to a DNR publication called “Amphibians of Wisconsin” by Rebecca Christoffel, Robert Hay and Michelle Wolgram, “Frogs and salamanders provide high-quality food for predators such as birds, mammals, fish and reptiles. They account for a tremendous amount of biomass any habitat.
“Amphibians are also the primary vertebrate predators of insects and other invertebrates in many freshwater and moist terrestrial environments. Grazing by tadpoles helps regulate the growth of algae and other aquatic plants.”
We at Crossroads love our frogs and toads, and we have lots of them to love. Hauser Pond, our wildlife scrapes, and the ephemeral wetlands in our woods dry up most years, which obviously means our ponds cannot support frog-egg-eating fish. That makes them the perfect watery habitat for tadpoles . So far.
Crossroads will soon launch a fund drive for an expanded parking lot. We hope to double the number of parking spaces so even more people can safely attend programs at our Collins Learning Center and the Heritage Village at Big Creek. But we also feel responsibility to the land and the wildlife…. like Spring peeper….like Grey Tree frogs…remarkable little creatures that soon will be filling our evenings with their breeding serenades.
One of the remarkable attitributes of frogs is that they can absorb water through their skin.
But, again quoting Amphibians of Wisconsin, “Frogs are in intimate contact with their surroundings, and their highly permeable skin makes them especially vulnerable to pollutants. We know that when environmental factors affect amphibian populations we need to consider how these same factors may affect humans.”
We are expanding our parking lot to make our facilities safe for our visitors, understanding that more vehicles will create more contaminants. As an environmental center we are committed to making sure that the water that leaves our parking areas are clean enough for our Spring Peepers and Tree Frogs to breed, and when t water reaches the ground water, for us to drink.
One of my favorite philosophers, Kermit the Frog, sang “It’s not easy being green.” Being green–environmentally responsible–is not easy, nor is it inexpensive.
A goal of the project is to create a parking lot that can be a model for good environmental stewardship. Unfortunately, the only available space for expansion presents significant engineering and environmental challenges due to surface water drainage from adjacent areas as well as a seasonally high water table which limits drainage. Design concepts will follow current engineering and environmental practices to address known issues such as storm water runoff and infiltration, surface and water table drainage and snow disposal.
We will wear green on Saint Patrick’s Day, but we will “be green” as we rehabilitate and expand our parking lot.. The fund drive will begin at the first peep of Spring Peeper.
But speaking of goals for our proposed parking lot, we will make it ADA compliant so folks with mobility issues will be able to participate in our programs and activities. Master Gardeners also are interested in accessibility. Consequently, on Tuesday, March 22 will their lecture will be “Accessible Gardening-Enjoy Gardening Now and Into the Future.” The speaker, Kathleen Blankenburg is owner of The Gardening Angel, a garden design firm which specializes in small space/raised bed and accessible gardens for people with physical disabilities. Blankenberg will discuss garden structure and designs that make working in the garden easier and innovative tools which are easy to handle. Finally she will talk about therapy garden design. The program is free and open to the public.
Research has shown that gardening…being in touch with plants—relieves stress, lower blood pressure and is mood elevating. So is a “A Walk in the Woods” That is the theme for our nature hike on Saturday, March 19 at 10:00 at our Ida Bay Preserve. It also is the title of a play which will open at Third Avenue Playhouse on Thursday March 31. Our friends at TAP have made opening night a Benefit for Crossroads, with 20% of the ticket sales being donated our us. We hope you will join us for a Walk in the Woods on Saturday, but also encourage you to buy tickets for Opening Night for the show at TAP.
Crossroads at Big Creek is a donor supported preserve welcoming learners of all ages to programs in science, history and the environment. During the construction of the Michigan Street Round About, you can reach the Collins Learning Center from the Highway Detour by taking County T . Turn right on Big Creek Road and right on Lily Bay Roads and then follow Michigan to the Crossroads Entrance.
Thursday, March 17 4:30 St. Patrick’s Day Hike: In Search of Green
Join the naturalist for a hike through the original Crossroads preserve in search of the early signs of spring. We will find green. Wear footwear which can get wet. Free and open to the public. Meet at the Collins Learning Center. Michigan Street should still be open.
Saturday, March 19, 10:00 Hike: A Walk in the Woods.
Lower your stress with a walk through the woods at the Ida Bay Preserve. Meet at the Parking Lot at Canal and Buffalo Ridge Trail. During construction, vehicles can cross the highway on Utah Street. Form the north, one can reach the Ida Bay Preserve by taking Mathey Road and turning right on Bufflalo Ridge Trail. Free and open to the public.
Tuesday, March 22, 7:00 Master Gardener Lecture “Accessible Gardening-Enjoy Gardening Now and Into the Future.”
This lecture will feature Kathleen Blankenburg , the owner of The Gardening Angel, a garden design firm which specializes in small space/raised bed and accessible gardens for people with physical disabilities. Blankenberg will discuss garden structure and designs that make working in the garden easier and innovative tools which are easy to handle. Finally she will talk about therapy garden design. The program is free and open to the public. To reach the Collins Learning Center from the Highway Detour, take County T (Alabama Street) across the highway to Big Creek Road Turn right and travel to Lily Bay Road and turn right. You will see the Crossroads Entrance on Michigan Street.