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. Photo by: Todd Ponath
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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