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City has preservation in mind for 103 acres

Borst property will feature trails and restored nature areas

May 25, 2012

Muskego - The city has received the first in a series of annual donations and has begun the process to convert the 103-acre Borst property into a preserve.

Little Muskego Lake Association last week presented $5,000 to the city to help in the development of the property, which the city bought for more than $1.2 million in early spring . The donation is the first of 10 such gifts that will be spread over the next 10 years, fulfilling the association's earlier pledge of $50,000 toward the project.

The Badertscher Preserve, named for the man who farmed the land for many years and whose daughter sold the property to the city, is located north of Field Drive and a quarter mile west of Hillendale Drive.

Worth preserving

It will be turned into a nature preserve where people will be able to hike on trails and possibly even use it for bow hunting and trapping.

Because the property is part of the Little Muskego Lake watershed, the lake association wants to help preserve it, said its acting president, Ken Fries.

"When there's construction and development around a lake, it can impact water quality," he said.

Jewel Creek, which meanders from the pond that lies in the center of the tract to Little Muskego Lake, is the most pristine of any tributary that flows into Little Muskego Lake, said Tom Zagar, Muskego conservation coordinator.

But the land itself has considerable natural beauty, he said. It contains a picturesque oak savanna of a relatively rare type with 200-year-old burr oak trees, Zagar said.

The city's Conservation Commission would like to restore the area to its native state. It soon will ask the Common Council to approve $7,000 that would be the city's share of a $16,500 project to restore wetlands that had been drained and farmed many years ago. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would pay the rest under a grant the city won, Zagar said.

Eventually, the farm fields also would be returned to original prairie and oak savanna. But for the next two years, the fields will continue to be leased to the farmer who has been tilling them, he said.

Readying the trails

People will be able to walk the many existing trails as early as this fall, when a parking lot off Field Drive will be built.

The owner has ridden the trails on horseback and neighbors with all-terrain vehicles have driven them. However, the Conservation Commission has already decided that opening up the trails for general use will mean ATVs will not be allowed there anymore, Zagar said.

The commission is still to decide about whether to keep the trails as bridal paths. The commission is open to that idea but must work out a policy concerning animal waste, Zagar said.

In the interests of making the area more native, the commission also is considering closing some of the trails that zig-zag through the woods.

AT A GLANCE

Helping preserve the Borst property isn't the only thing the Little Muskego Lake Association does to protect the lake's water quality.

The volunteer organization has worked and spent its own money for decades on many projects. They include:

Sediment control - The group worked with farmers in Muskego and New Berlin to use farming methods that would reduce the amount of sediment washing from their land and eventually ending up in the lake. The amount of sediment has been reduced substantially.

Idle Isle Park dredging - In the mid-1990s, the association sponsored two dredging projects at Idle Isle Park. One was along the park's northern perimeter, re-opening the water channels. The other was along the southern beach area and continued down Jewel Crest Drive to lake access no. 2. Total expenditure for these two projects was approximately $320,000, with LMLA contributing $36,000.

Land conservancy - The association has helped provide funding along with Muskego and other entities to buy environmentally significant property in Muskego and New Berlin. (The last 40-acre parcel just purchased is located in New Berlin.) Several hundred thousand dollars have been spent in these land purchases.

Carp removal - The association and the Wisconsin Bowfishing Association hold an annual carp shoot to reduce the number of carp in the lake. Carp are considered a rough fish and destroy other game and sunfish habitat.

Walleye pike stocking - In the past four years, the association has worked with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in the purchase and stocking of 3,000 six-inch walleye pike fingerlings. The association has contributed about $4,000.

Idle Isle Park upgrade - Association members are helping Muskego's Park & Recreation Department and the DNR to improve park conditions. This work includes creating planting beds, replacing and upgrading boat launch signage, cleaning up the beach and rip-rap shoreline areas, and removing weeds. To date, a total of approximately $5,000 has been spent for these improvements. This funding has been raised through donations by local businesses as well as the association expenditures.

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