On the eve of Rhythm & Booms, a Wisconsin wetland expert toured Warner Park’s wetland, and declared it beautiful, vital and worth the effort to rehabilitate it. Wild Warner opposes the pollution of this wetland by the city’s largest fireworks show.
Though dominated by an overgrowth of “hybrid cattail,” the wetland includes “large patches of amazingly high quality” vegetation. The wetland is the lifeblood of Warner’s “wild side.” Although degraded by years of storm runoff, Warner’s wetland is serving double duty as a sponge for pollutants and home to birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians.
Here is his report:Thanks for taking me out yesterday to explore beautiful Warner Park. Until yesterday, I was only familiar with the ball park at Warner, and did not know about its wild side. I am very impressed with the work of Wild Warner calling attention to the beauty and diversity of Warner Park. This is truly a community-based effort to protect and restore the wetland and upland habitats of the park for the benefit of a large and diverse number of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Your vision of maintaining a mixture of untouched and managed areas in the park is admirable and achievable. The mixture of “wild” and “tamed” areas in the park will maximize the community benefits for the neighborhood by providing areas for recreation and relaxation combined with educational opportunities. Natural areas are rare but vital components of intensively urban environments. When they are protected and maintained they provide a window to the natural world for local youth that would not otherwise exist. I was inspired by the passion and conviction that you and Tim have for Warner Park, and the success you have had in raising awareness of the wild side of Warner Park among your fellow park-side neighbors. I was also pleasantly surprised by the extent and quality of the wetland resources of the park. When I arrived, I expected a highly degraded wetland area with very little native vegetation. What I found was a wetland that certainly is facing some difficult challenges, but one that also has hope for improvement given a little TLC. Hybrid cattail communities dominate a large portion of the shallow water wetland areas, but there are some large patches of amazingly high quality vegetative communities still holding on.
The burreed/arrowhead/bulrush-dominated emergent wetland area we discovered is an example of the potential of the Warner Park wetlands. Cattail control efforts may help this emergent vegetation community expand into more of the shallow water areas. An expansion of this vegetative community will greatly increase the wildlife habitat value of the Warner Park wetlands. I hope you will consider some of the cattail control methods we discussed while paddling through the area. The activities of Wild Warner represent a community-based effort by people taking responsibility for the wetland resources of their neighborhood. Wisconsin Wetlands Association recognizes the importance of these community-based efforts for producing sustainable, cost-effective, and real-world wetland benefits. I will be using you as an example of the good things that happen when neighbors get together for the betterment of the wetlands of their communities. You truly are an inspiration to me – keep up the good work!
Tracy Hames, executive director, Wisconsin Wetlands Association