SOMERS — A $154,830 grant from the Great Lakes Commission will help restore wetlands and stabilize the eroding banks of the Pike River at Hawthorn Hollow Nature Sanctuary and Arboretum.
Lori Artiomow, restoration ecologist at Hawthorn Hollow, announced the grant and presented the project plans to local dignitaries and area residents Wednesday.
Hawthorn Hollow will provide $55,000 in matching funds.
“We’ve seen a huge change in the river,” Artiomow said of the Pike River as it runs through the property. “Erosion is a major problem. We need to keep the banks from eroding any further.”
The changes are visible when comparing what the river looks like today to photographs from the 1940s. Specifically, the 394-foot stretch of river that runs through Hawthorn Hollow is much wider in areas.
“The goal is to send less water and slow the flow of water into the ravine,” Artiomow said of the restoration project. “We are increasing the amount of water we are holding on our land.”
The wetland restoration and ravine protection project is the result of years of planning. Hawthorn Hollow partnered with the Root Pike Watershed Initiative Network (Root-Pike WIN) and University of Wisconsin-Extension in 2011 to work on a Pike River watershed-based plan.
In 2017, Hawthorn Hollow was awarded a $75,000 Funds for Lake Michigan grant to cover the cost of project planning, wetland delineation, invasive species management and the development of a five-ear management plan.
Artiomow said the Great Lakes Commission grant will implement the project, which will significantly reduce the amount of soil and soil pollutants that enter the Pike River.
The project includes:
Conducting wetland scrapes.
Removing canary grass.
Adding a diversion berm to control water flow.
Raising the high water level of the pond on the property by a foot.
Removing invasive species.
Planting wetlands vegetation and prairie species.
Restoring the savannah along the ravine to stabilize the bank.
Trees planted in what will be the restored wetlands will be removed and replaced with wetland vegetation.
Artiomow said the project area is not currently accessible by the public. However, it will be after the restoration.
The hope is to begin the three-year project this winter by bringing equipment in after the ground freezes.
“I really like what you are doing here,” John Skalbeck, professor of geoscience at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, said during a tour of the affected area Wednesday.
Skalbeck said he envisions ways Parkside students can get involved in monitoring activities at the property.
“We can be a lab,” Artiomow said, adding she is looking forward to working with Skalbeck to determine how students may get involved there.