2014 Fall Newsletter

Newsletter Header Fall 2013

HH Acquires Schoolhouse Property

Charles and Kathryn Heide have recently donated a 1.22 acre parcel located just north of HH on County Highway A. The property does not physically connect with HH but is significant to our history and the Town of Somers. The first Pike River School was built on this property in 1847 and the second school built in 1906.

The “Schoolhouse property” offers us another unique ability to further IMG_2540 copypreserve our local heritage and expand our educational programming.

The initial excitement and financial support from members of the Hyslop Board of Directors has already spurred preliminary plans to build “The Schoolyard Observatory.” HH staff continues to explore additional funding to help with the success of this ambitious project.

The early design of the Schoolyard Observatory includes a roll-off-roof viewing room to house three permanently mounted telescopes, a spacious classroom building, and a large south-facing outdoor observing deck. The adjoining classroom facility will make is possible for the Schoolyard Observatory to offer a unique observing program to the public.  Visitors will get acquainted with night sky objects and observing techniques. Heading outside to the observation deck, a naked-eye sky tour will help them get oriented and let the first stages of night vision set in before heading into the viewing room where they will have the opportunity to view celestial objects directly. 

The mission of the Schoolyard Observatory is to nurture and promote the appreciation and understanding of our universe by maintaining a quality observing facility for astronomy education and astronomical research. 

Our vision is to develop the Schoolyard Observatory as a premier destination for night sky observing in Southeastern Wisconsin.  We  will strive to make the  night  sky accessible  to everyone  by providing  open observing  FullSizeRenderopportunities and preserving our dark sky location.  We will aspire to provide inspirational educational programs for k-12 students and the general public through partnerships with local amateur astronomers, and to revolutionize undergraduate research opportunities in astronomy through collaboration with institutions of higher education.

Being a relatively locally dark location, only minutes from the majority of the city populations of Kenosha and Racine, the Schoolyard Observatory can serve as a resource for local amateur astronomy groups to meet and enjoy the night sky.  It is also our hope that partnerships can be forged with local institutions of higher education to offer unique undergraduate observing and research opportunities using the Schoolyard Observatory facilities.

Runzheimer Foundation Helps Fund Woodland Management

D hole black ash

Classic D shaped exit hole from the emerald ash borer on a black ash tree in the hollow.

Runzheimer Foundation has granted Hawthorn Hollow $2,000 to help us remove dead and dying ash trees that may become a public hazard along our trails. This year we saw firsthand the damage that the emerald ash borer is causing in our woodlands. While the borer has probably been present here for several years, this year we started to see the classic signs of infestation, such as crown death and sprouting along the trunk.

In 2012, intern Palermo Galindo surveyed ash trees on the property to determine the number, locations, and size of ash trees in Hawthorn Hollow’s woodlands. We have white, green and black ash species on the property.

We were surprised to learn that we have 94 ash trees with a diameter 12 inches or greater in our woodlands, plus six in the arboretum. In addition, we have about 160 ash trees that are less than 12 inches but greater than four inches in diameter, plus many smaller ash trees. We expect to lose all of these ash trees in the very near future. Many will require a professional tree service for removal. We are grateful for the financial support we received from the Runzheimer Foundation for this work.

More Woodland Management

In addition to dealing with our dead and dying ash trees, we are managing our woodland oak and maple trees. We are starting to develop two sugar bushes for our “It’s Maple Sugarin’ Time” field trip and maple syrup production. The sugar bushes are being thinned so that there will be fewer sugar maple trees with better exposure to sun and room to spread.


Volunteer Janice Laufenberg hauling 5 cut saplings out of the sugar bush.

Unlike many of our other woodland trees, sugar maple seeds can germinate in dense shade. This has led to an abundance of sugar maple saplings and young trees in our woodlands. This density of sugar maples produced dense shade and reduced chances of oak, cherry, and hickory regeneration.

Oak, cherry, and hickory seeds require more light for germination than sugar maple and basswood. To keep our woodlands diverse, with many

species of native trees, we are clearing out maples to give the more sun-loving species a chance to regenerate.

Historically, the woodlands at Hawthorn Hollow would have been oak, cherry, hickory, and black walnut, with some sugar maple, ash, and basswood growing where the prairie fires couldn’t reach.

New Friends of HH Board Members

The Friends of Hawthorn Hollow welcome Phil Kraus and Aaron Menke as new board members this fall. Phil is an arborist for the city of Kenosha and Aaron is a wetland restoration consultant and prior employee of Hawthorn Hollow. We look forward to their expertise and service as members of the board. We would also like to thank Nancy Carlson for her time on the board and wish her luck as the Naturalist at River Bend Nature Center. We miss her time here!

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