Schlitz-Audubon Nature Center

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The Schlitz-Audubon Nature Center has one hundred and eighty-five acres of natural habitat. It has been established for 40 years, and provides excellent environmental education for people of all ages. The ecological restoration includes creating habitat which supports all wildlife, monitoring the land and ecosystems for threats towards wildlife and nature, controlling the invasive plant species and engaging community members. The restoration of the land cost roughly $5,000 to $10,000 per acre plus the costs of annual maintenance on top of it. The new $5.5 million building harnesses the nature's energy in a number of ways to save energy costs and also helps the environment. The new building is very eco-friendly and is a new attraction for visitors. The new building relies on nature in order to function. [1]


History of the Schlitz-Audubon Nature Center

History Before the Nature Center

Before becoming a nature center, the 185 acres that is now Schlitz Audubon Nature Center was originally a forested area. In the 1800s the property was used to provide lumber and firewood for the Milwaukee area. The Uihlein family purchased the land in 1885 and assigned it to the Schlitz Brewery which was called "Nine Mile Farm" which was turned into a pasture where the brewery delivery horses went to recover from the long days that were spent pulling carriages packed with beer kegs. However, after the widespread use of automobiles the company no longer needed a place for the horses to rest. For decades, the property remained the Schlitz Brewery and became a place where Schlitz employees, sporting and scouting groups and the Uihlein family to relax (see Discussion page for a note).

History After Brewery was not Needed

In the early 1960's, the Uihlein family mentioned selling the property but Dorothy Vallier and community members of Bayside, recommended for the property to become a environmental education center. After years of debating, in 1971 the property was dornated to the National Audubon Society and later in 1974 Schlitz Audubon nature Center was opened to the public five days a week.

History of the Nature Center

Now the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center is opened 362 days a year and has many educational programs for all ages. The staff is always working to preserve and restore the land so it is a diverse landscape for wildlife and for the Milwaukee community members to explore.[2]

Experiencing New Programs at Nate Center

National Audubon Society

Schlitz Audubon is an independent partner of the National Audubon Society. Schlitz Audubon Nature Center is partnered with Milwaukee Public Museum and the Alzheimer's Association as the newest "SPARK!" host site. "This program is designed for people who are experiencing cognitive changes, such as memory loss, to participate along side their caregivers." Each session is dedicated to learning about the nature and the beauty that is hidden throughout and how it enhances our lives. The programs are led by the Director of Education and take place indoors but may venture outdoors close to the building. [3]

Activities

Programs

  • Nature preschool
  • Summer camps
  • Year-round school field trips and outreach programs
  • Homeschool programs
  • Adolescent environmental education
  • Raptor programs

Hiking Trails

  • First time visitor
  • Lake Michigan hike
  • Stroller/young children/wheelchair hike
  • Solitude hike
  • Birding hike

Grounds Highlights

  • Raptor exhibit
  • 60 ft. observation tower
  • Mystery lake boardwalk
  • Milner Lake Michigan Viewing Deck
  • Insect Hotel by Heidi Brody

Building Highlights

  • Gold Leed Certified Building
  • Live animal exhibits
  • Interactive exhibits
  • Mezzanine art gallery
  • Nature store
  • Veranda

[4] [5]

Attractions at the Nature Center

Conserving Breeding Birds

All 23 bird species around the Schlitz-Audubon Nature Center are listed as threatened, endangered, or a special concern in Wisconsin. Conserving the small group of birds will also benefit many of the other birds. Birds that use the same resources usually respond similarly to changes in the environment. The breeding period and the nesting location and plant community preferences were evaluated for each of the 23 bird species at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center. 20 of the 23 birds nest either on the ground or low branches of bushes and saplings. The Nature Center is working to restore the native ground-layer and shrub-layer vegetation. With effective conservation, the Nature Center can support nesting and reproduction of the 23 bird species, as well as other birds that share the required resources. [1]

The Wood Thrush

The Wood Thrush is a member of a guild of "insectivorous" and "frugivorous" ground feeding birds, which also prefer to nest in shrubs and sapling vegetation. The "Swainson's Thrush and Brown Thrasher" also belong to this guild. As volunteers work to reduce dominance by the Common Buckthorn and other invasive shrubs, improvements to the native ground-layer and shrub-layer dominance and diversity will provide improved breeding habitat for members of the group.

Red-headed Woodpecker

The Red-headed Woodpecker prefers oak openings and open woodland habitats. It is an insect eating bird. During its breeding period, it burrows in a nest in dead trees and on tree limbs. The habitat quality for the Red-headed Woodpecker will increase with the death of large ash trees being attacked by Emerald Ash Borer and also the demise and clearing of the ask thickets for "Oak Savanna Conversion."

American Woodcock

The American Woodcock belongs to a group of worm eating, ground nesting and ground hunters. Control techniques that including forest thinning, burning and mowing the areas will help rejuvenate singing grounds, roosting areas and feeding ground for the American Woodcock. [6]

Conflicts at the Nature Center

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB)

Emerald Ash Borer is a small invasive beetle that kills the ash trees. They have spent the last couple years planning and launching a EAB response plan. Schlitz Audubon is home to a wide rang of wildlife and ecosystems. EAB is a on going challenge that they are trying to turn into a great opportunity to enhance the land for generations to come. But they are struggling to find help from volunteers, donors and community members. [7]

Five Focus Areas of the Plan

  • Native Forest Restoration
  • Ash Conservation
  • Hazard Tree Removal
  • Slope Stabilization
  • Savanna Conversion

Hazard Ash Tree Removal at Schlitz Audubon

Part of the EAB response plan includes the removal of hazardous trees. Some of the trees have "X" painted in Orange on them because the trees are dying and could pose a threat to the community and wildlife. The dying ash trees will fortunatrly become nesting habitats for the woodpeckers along with other animals. The Nature Center is trying to find a way to recycle the trees and the young ash poles are being used as fencing in the Preschool play area. EAB will cause the loss of four native species of ash and many native insects that rely on the ash for all or parts of their life. The plants are home to 138 native species and they are planning on planting 2,000 native trees and shrubs per year through 2026. [8]

Mission Statement

"The Schlitz Audubon Nature Center conserves the land's diverse habitats on Lake Michigan and provides meaningful experiences and environmental education for all" [9]

Schlitz Audubon Nature Center News

There are a lot of videos on Fox News ranging from the Massive Migration Makes its Way Through SE Wisconsin: 'This is when the birds start going crazy to Day of Service: Arborists remove trees that could pose safety concerns due to emerald ash borer. The news covers the amount of snow, the amount of people going to the park and all the fun every one is having. [10]

References

  1. New nature center facility lets nature take center stage (2018-05-03), https://search.proquest.com/docview/203459452?rfr_id=info%3Axri%2Fsid%3Aprimo
  2. "History of Schlitz Audubon Nature Center", Schlitz Audubon Nature Center (2018-05-03),https://www.schlitzaudubon.org/about-us/history
  3. " SPARK Event at Schlitz Audubon" SPARK! at Schlitz Audubon (2018-05-03), https://www.schlitzaudubon.org/spark-schlitz-audubon
  4. "Plan Your Visit" Schlitz Audubon Nature Center (2018-05-03), https://www.schlitzaudubon.org/about-us/plan-your-visit
  5. "Facebook Posts" Schlitz Audubon Nature Center Facebook(2018-05-03), https://www.facebook.com/pg/SchlitzAudubonNatureCenter/posts/?ref=page_internal
  6. Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, https://www.schlitzaudubon.org/conserving-breeding-birds-schlitz-audubon
  7. "Our Land: Emerald Ash Borer" Schlitz Audubon Nature Center (2018-05-03), https://www.schlitzaudubon.org/about-us/our-land/emerald-ash-borer
  8. "Hazard Ash Tree Removal at Schlitz Audubon" Schlitz Audubon Nature Center (2018-05-03), https://www.schlitzaudubon.org/hazard-ash-tree-removal-schlitz-audubon
  9. "Schlitz Audubon Mission Statement" Schlitz Audubon Nature Center (2018-05-03), https://www.schlitzaudubon.org/schlitz-audubon-mission-statement
  10. "Schlitz Audubon Nature Center" Schlitz Audubon Nature Center News (2018-05-03), http://fox6now.com/tag/schlitz-audubon-nature-center/

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