April 22, 2021, the 51st anniversary of Earth Day. Last year I wrote extensively about the first one that I remember well in 1970 that I experienced as a student at UWSP. As we look at Earth Day from the perspective of the Conservancy, some significant things have occurred at Lac Lawrann on Earth Day. In 2012 we broke ground for our new nature center and one year later on Earth Day 2013 we officially opened the Maurin Center.
In 2020, we at Lac Lawrann had to cancel our Wild Flower sale for the first time in 30 years. The covid pandemic was surging at that time and it turned out to be a good decision for the safety of all our volunteers, patrons and their families. This year we are happy to announce that our annual Wild Flower Sale is returning to its traditional date the Saturday before Mother’s Day, May 8th from 9 AM to 1 PM, so things are definitely moving in the right direction
On a spring walk last Sunday, April 18, 2021, after spending a year plus being sequestered away from family, friends and all of our acquaintances and volunteer activities, things are finally getting a bit better. Last year at this time, my wife and I spent many spring days each week hiking the trails at Lac Lawrann because it was isolated and provided an escape from the house assuring adequate social distancing. This year, we retraced our steps and saw a few different things. The sand hill cranes were there as usual, but three pairs of wood ducks joined them as did the chickadees and the occasional distant woodpecker drumming to attract a mate. Our great horned owl pair have returned, welcomed by the hepaticas on the esker to raise another brood of young. Trees are leafing out and spring ephemerals are guiding us along the trail and the turtles are still basking in the sun on the logs in Lac Lawrann.
As I am writing today, it is snowing; though not unheard of in WI in April, it still takes us back a bit as we observe the silence it instills in the woods and surroundings. Which brings me to talk about the future Earth Days and what will they bring to Lac Lawrann. Climate change is real and happening at the Conservancy. The sandhill cranes returned this year on February 22. One of the earliest dates I can remember. That said, when I moved to West Bend in 1975 there wasn’t a sandhill crane south of Stevens Point WI and they were rare up there. And for that matter I don’t recall any at the conservancy when I joined the board in 2002. Things have changed and are continuing to do so. I recall hearing someone referring to the situation as “climate weirding” rather than climate change that is causing these major shifts. I wrote about the change in planting zones a few years ago and how we are now 5a, planting zone, a warmer designation. I did some digging and Thomas Friedmann, in the New Your Times did and article in 2007 talking about climate weirding. His quote:
“I prefer the term “global weirding,” coined by Hunter Lovins, co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute, because the rise in average global temperature is going to lead to all sorts of crazy things — from hotter heat spells and droughts in some places, to colder cold spells and more violent storms, more intense flooding, forest fires and species loss in other places.”
Mr. Friedman packs a lot into this article, but if you are interested in pursuing some of the reasons that we are seeing such “weirding” not only here in West Bend, but around the globe I have placed a link to this and another article that you may find interesting. It may only be for you science geeks like me, but well worth the read to be able to help explain these changes to your children and grandchildren.
So for now, stay safe, get your vaccination, wear your mask so we can see each other soon on the trails AND THE FLOWER SALE on May 8th!
Happy Earth Day,
Paul De Chant
President, Friends of Lac Lawrann Conservancy