This is an EarthCache!
As such, there is no container to find. An EarthCache is simply a place to go and learn about the world we live in. You will be asked to answer a few questions in order to log this as a find. The listed coordinates are for parking. Be prepared to walk 1.2 miles on the Ice Age Trail. The boardwalk may be icy in the winter. Please stay on trail at all times and go to the waypoints in order.
Geology is all around us! This small marsh features several types of micro environments. On your short walk you will see several different areas which you will be able to identify. After your visit I hope you will come away with a new appreciation of these vanishing environments.
Welcome to the Hartland Marsh.
Here you will find yourself walking along a section of Wisconsin's Ice Age Trail. According to the Ice Age Trail Alliance (IATA), this trail is "...a thousand mile footpath (entirely in Wisconsin) that celebrates the legacy of the Ice Age. Diverse geological features along the trail rank among the finest examples of continental glaciation anywhere in the world."
The Ice Age wetland in Hartland has been designated as a Class I Wildlife Habitat. Like most freshwater marshes it is a small, shallow, highly productive ecosystem. Dead plants break down in the water to form small particles of organic material called "detritus." This enriched material feeds many small aquatic insects, shellfish, and small fish that are food for larger predatory fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals. This marsh is home to cattails, sedge meadow and shrub communities as well as fish, frogs, turtles, ducks, herons, songbirds, muskrat, mink and raccoons. While wetlands may seem stable, in fact they are strongly influenced by hydrological regimes such as groundwater, surface runoff and cycles of precipitation and drought.
Importance of Wetlands
· Wetlands slow the flow of water which prevents soil erosion along streams and lakes. Marshes also act as a buffer from larger water bodies which may potentially damage land used for activities such as agriculture.
· Wetlands aid in flood control. A wetland is like a gigantic sponge. It absorbs water which keeps the surrounding areas from flooding. Wetlands prevent destruction of property and death caused by raging storm waters.
· Wetlands are one of nature's filters. During strong rainstorms, large amounts of silt and other pollutants may drift downstream. This runoff can kill offshore reefs and pollute rivers and streams. Wetlands help to filter these materials.
· Wetlands also play an important part in atmospheric maintenance. Wetlands store carbon and other greenhouse gasses within their plant communities and soil instead of releasing it to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Thus wetlands help to moderate the Earth's atmosphere, slowing the onset of global warming.
· Groundwater is recharged through slow percolation of surface water into the underlying soilbed.
· Beyond the ecological and atmospheric benefits, wetlands are geologically important because they create products for man. If the conditions are right wetlands are responsible for the formation of marl (See GC17739), peat and coal (See GC15BZ5) which are valuable resources. The organic rich soil is also a superior source of fertilizer for farming and has been long used by man.
More than half of the original 221 million acres of wetlands that existed in the continental U.S. at the time of white settlement have been destroyed (an average of 60,000 acres of wetlands were lost each year between 1986 and 1997 alone).
Freshwater marshes are often formed by the infilling of ponds and shallow lakes via the gradual buildup of nutrient-rich sediments derived from surface runoff and groundwater seepage. The work of beavers and natural dams may also play a role in the formation of marshes. The damming of watercourses reduces drainage and thus increases the amount of sedimentation. The slowed water and increase in sediment provides suitable conditions for the growth of aquatic vegetation which will in turn decay adding to the base of the marsh. This spongy base is one of the reasons why marshes are helpful in terms of acting as a water filter and flood control mechanism.
As this site is along the Ice Age Trail and there is a sizable glacial hill directly next to the parking area there is a good chance that glaciers may have played a role in the development of this marsh. It is difficult to say for certain however as the Bark River also runs through this area so it is possible that both glaciation and the presence of the river are responsible for this wetland.
For the next five questions you will need to email me location based information and tell me in what type of environment you are located (based on the picture above): Wet Meadow, Forested Wetland etc..
1. WP 1 At N43 05.639 W88 20.650
What type of environment are you looking down at?
2. WP 2 At N43 05.625 W88 20.623
A. Use your GPS to determine the altitude of the glacial hill located here. How much higher is it than the parking area below?
B. At the landscape timbers. What type of environment are you are standing on?
3. WP 3 At N43 05.639 W88 20.744
What type of environment are you looking at from the observation deck?
4. WP 4 At N43 05.576 W88 20.722
What type of environment are you looking at?
5. WP 5 At N43 05.409 W88 20.876
What type of environment are you looking at?
If you have the time there is another segment of the Ice Age Trail which continues less than a half a mile away from here at N43 05.286 W88 21.037. The next segment of the trail is similar to this one but includes more boardwalks over the open marsh and is closer to the Bark River. I highly recommend visiting this segment but suggest you wear long sleeves, a hat and bug spray in the summer months.
Sources & Permission:
Permission for this listing has been granted by the Ice Age Trail Alliance (IATA) and the Village of Hartland (at the Feb 23rd 2009 village board meeting).
IATCC is the cache designation to highlight a series of EarthCaches along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail grouped into a special category called "ColdCache."
The Ice Age Trail is one of eleven (11) National Scenic Trails designated by the National Park Service. This unique trail is entirely within the state of Wisconsin and follows along the terminal moraine of the most recent glacier.
This project is supported by the Ice Age Trail Alliance. The goal is to bring more visitors to the trail and promote public awareness, appreciation, and understanding of Wisconsin’s glacial landscape.
More information on the Ice Age Trail Atlas, the ColdCache Project and Awards Program is available at: http://www.iceagetrail.org/coldcache.htm.