A Swampy Crusade

natural lake shoreline

Outdoor adventuring in Northern Wisconsin is as serendipitous as a bowl of Chex Mix. You never know what kind of ecosystem you’ll end up in – swamp, forest, lake, rapids, or a sweltering hot field of wildflowers. And to note, the word “forest” no longer has a simple definition to me. Forests in Wisconsin come with different densities of brush, and can be man-made or natural, standing or felled. In my most recent adventure up north as part of a field campaign I experienced all of the above.

Here’s a fun fact: Spittlebugs made the spit bubbles that I’m pointing to in the image below. They’re harmless to plants in small quantities, but can weaken or stunt plant growth if their population becomes very successful.

spittle on plant

The are a few reasons why Wisconsin’s unique variety of ecosystems is important. First off, biodiversity is better supported by a broad range of habitat for local wildlife. Second, ecosystem heterogeneity has been shown to impact ecological resilience to climate change. Lastly, landscape composition and configuration can impact water quality, quantity, and flow.


Here’s a covered bridge we discovered a little way outside of the study area. Visitors are attracted to this location for its rapids. There is no shortage of trails in Northern Wisconsin to satisfy curious hikers, either!bench

The lodge we retreated to after long days in the field tracking down windsondes and taking carbon dioxide and methane measurements was settled on the shores of Tomahawk Lake. The experimental plot included parts of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, but the balloons we released (which were attached to the windsondes) frequently traveled outside the bounds or onto private land. See pictures from my previous trips to The National Ecological Observatory Network and Allequash Creek, both in Northern Wisconsin.


Here’s a blurry picture from one of the nature trails. My apologies for the quality, but when you stand still in the woods you tend to get swarmed by creepy crawlies of all kinds. The United States has 154 national forests, and most of those are located in the western US. The smallest national forest is actually quite large, at 16,352 acres. It is the Finger Lakes National Forest in New York. Note that national trails, such as the Appalachian Trail, are not the same as national forests. Here is a list of 6 things to do when in Chequamegon-Nicolet. Participating in a field campaign should be added to the list!


Are there any national forests near you? How about national trails? Comment below and have a great weekend. Cheers, Jess 🙂

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