My life is about living with nature – here you can live it with me!

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Road sign on I-94

By: Pat Coate

I’ve made a couple trips to Milwaukee recently and couldn’t help but notice this sign in southeastern Wisconsin along I-94. The highway department had to have fun making this one. On my last trip, curiosity got the best of me and I decided the 10 mile side trip to check out Bong Recreation Area was a must. Turns out it is a very interesting place:

• The park is named after Richard Bong – America’s most distinguished fighter pilot. From Poplar, WI, he was part of the Ninth Fighter Squadron and fought in the Pacific theatre. Over a two-year period he shot down 40 enemy planes – a record that still stands today.
• Tragically, he was sent home for his safety and ultimately assigned as a jet test pilot. He was killed in 1945 testing a P-80 jet.
• This 4,500 acre park was originally a buffalo-filled prairie with a few wetlands mixed in.
• During the 1950s cold war era there were plans to convert the area to a fighter base to protect the Chicago area. Budget woes and other concerns ultimately led to the acreage being converted to the recreation area it is today.
• In 2005 the National Audubon Society designated the park as an Important Bird Area.

I had a nice chat with the ranger who told me they usually have short-eared owls this time of year, which bring in lots of birders. But unfortunately it has been a slow winter and there had been no recent sightings.

I didn’t have time for more than a quick look around but look forward to returning in the spring and properly exploring the area – all thanks to its attention getting name.

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One response

  1. PopPop

    You should come to Florida, we hear owls every night, so practice your owl calls.

    20 January 2011 at 11:38 am

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