Wednesday, September 2, 2015

High Cliff is in Cindy Mueller's DNA

Two women who have been leaders in environmental causes in the Fox Valley have announced their retirements. Today I look at the career of Cindy Mueller, who served as a naturalist at four area nature centers. The next column will look at Donna VanBuecken's quest to encourage native landscaping as executive director of Wild Ones.

By David Horst

SHERWOOD — Working as a pharmacy technician at a drug store 30 years ago, Cindy Mueller had this recurring dream about teaching in a classroom, a dream so vivid that she experienced the smells of the school building. Then the dream would change to her fishing.

Cindy Mueller
It wasn't until she took a job in 1987 as a naturalist at Fallen Timbers Environmental Center near Black Creek that the dream’s meaning became clear. Bringing the outdoors into the classroom and the students into the outdoors as an environmental educator took her to nearly every Fox Cities nature center. And it won't end with her retirement Oct. 31 as High Cliff State Park’s naturalist.

High Cliff has always been in her blood. Her great grandparents had a place near what is now the park entrance. Her parents lived up on the ridge that gives the park its name.

“I kind of grew up here,” she said. “As a child, High Cliff was the place to go.”

Friday, August 21, 2015

Porch offers view of monarch recovery

By David Horst

By all accounts, 2015 has been a good year for monarchs.

I can verify that without checking the winter habitat in Mexico, or monitoring the flyway. Up on the Sandhill we call home, we don’t have to look any farther than the rose garden out front.

We’re not really rose-cultivating people, but they came with the house and seem to be able to take care of themselves, for the most part. So they remain.
In the middle of the summer, milkweed plants started to pop up between the rose bushes. Milkweed is sacred at our place, so they were allowed to grow. Now neck-high, the plants’ upswept leaves became dotted with little greenish-brown bb’s. Telltale signs of monarch caterpillars.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Weather delay shrinks Park-to-Park

After launching from Neenah's Shattuck Park, 75 boats head for Lake Winnebago.

By David Horst

What if you planned a paddling event for 250 people and the tandem of thunder and lightning was the first to arrive?

That was the fate of the 14th annual Park-to-Park Paddle on July 18. The storm was settling down as we started to gather for the launch at Shattuck Park in Neenah, but smart phones showed another storm hitting just before the fastest paddlers would land in Appleton. 
A roomy trip through the Menasha Lock.
See more photos

That’s a rarity for these paddle events, sponsored cooperatively by Northeast Wisconsin Paddlers and the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway. We have experienced uncommonly good weather.

When you are responsible for the safety of group of people, you just don't put them on the water in the lightening with 6-foot sticks in their hands.

The three main organizers -- Jeff Mazanec, Tom Young and me -- conferred and postponed the paddle from Saturday to Sunday. Perhaps a dozen paddlers went out anyway. The rain stopped. The second line of storms never came.

It may have been a misinformed call, but it was the right decision.

Sandhill warrior II

Up on the Sandhill, even the wildlife
does morning yoga.