Michigan Nature Association Winter 2020 Volume 68 Issue 1
michigan nature Grasslands: Michiganâ€™s Forgotten Natural Heritage In Tribute: Charlie Goodrich Restoring Habitat with Fire
“Hiking the Sanctuary” by Patricia Pennell
Nature Needs Everyone and Everyone Needs Nature Help protect Michigan nature, for everyone, forever: • • • •
Join or renew your membership Become a monthly supporter Honor a loved one with a memorial gift Remember MNA in your will or estate plan
Use the enclosed envelope, call (866) 223-2231 or visit www.michigannature.org to contribute.
Michigan Nature Association www.michigannature.org
Features Grasslands: Michigan’s Forgotten Natural Heritage
Q & A: Educator Tracy Ortiz, The Lessons We Reap from Nature
kids like to learn ... and when they learn, they’ll take it back home and educate someone else. - Tracy Ortiz page 33
In this Issue MNA 360
MNA Earns National Recognition Endangered Species Action Fund Campaign a Success
Legislative Updates Species Spotlight: Wild Lupine
Expanding Sanctuaries to Protect Critical Habitat Every Sanctuary Has a Story Fire Lights the Way for Restoration Research
In Tribute: Charlie Goodrich
Improving Conservation & Education Efforts
Recommended Reading from MNA
Legacy Remembering Miriam Wright
On the Cover: Blue Jay Feather in Snow by Lauren Ross
Help Connect Children to Nature Donate to MNA’s Environmental Education Fund Help Michigan’s next generation of conservation leaders with a gift to the Environmental Education Fund. All donations support MNA’s education programs, including outreach efforts like our mini-grants to teachers for nature field trips. Other education programs include opportunities for the whole family, such as guided hikes and tours, youth volunteer projects, educational publications, and more.
Michigan Nature Association 2310 Science Parkway, Suite 100 Okemos, MI 48864 (866) 223-2231 www.michigannature.org
Our Vision We envision a future where Michigan’s rare, threatened and endangered species and imperiled natural communities thrive, and where they are valued by people of all walks of life who embrace and benefit from Michigan’s natural heritage.
Board of Trustees
Yu Man Lee President
Garret Johnson Executive Director
Kurt Brauer Vice President
Margaret Welsch Secretary
Andrew Bacon Conservation Director
Ruth Vail Treasurer
Rachel Maranto Stewardship Coordinator, L.P.
Aubrey Golden Trustee-at-Large
Zach Pacana Regional Stewardship Organizer, E.L.P.
Robb Johnston Regional Stewardship Organizer, W.L.P.
Bill Atkinson Regional Stewardship Organizer, Thumb
Garret Johnson Steve Kelley
Nancy Leonard Regional Stewardship Organizer, Keweenaw
Stan Kuchta Maureen McNulty Saxton Paul Messing
Natalie Kent-Norkowski Land Protection Technician
Outreach & Education Julie Stoneman Outreach & Education Director Lauren Ross Communications & Events Coordinator
Hunt Elementary students participate in a discovery hike.
Donate today by visiting
Carol Schulz Finance & Administration Director Sherry Stewart Member Services Coordinator
michigannature.org or calling 866-223-2231
Please direct questions about this magazine to Communications and Events Coordinator, Lauren Ross at email@example.com or 866-223-2231. © 2020. Except where used with permission, entire contents copyright 2019 Michigan Nature Association.
From the Executive Director In 1752, a group of volunteer firefighters in Philadelphia led by Ben Franklin came together and formed the Philadelphia Contributionship for the Insurance of Houses from Loss by Fire, the nation’s first property loss insurance company. Remarkably, it continues to operate today with offices just a few blocks from where the Liberty Bell rests. Institutions can endure for generations. Centuries even. Institutions can also founder and fail, and too often do. When they fail, those performing the post mortem typically point to a sickness in the institution’s culture. Much of the promise of America has been built on and secured by its public and private institutions. But institutions have also played a role in many of its darkest, most horrifying chapters. We have seen this, here in Michigan, not so very long ago. When the residents of Flint sounded the alarm about drinking polluted water during the early stages of the Flint water crisis, government agencies and officials at all levels failed to listen… failed to empathize… failed to (literally) see their plight. Institutional bias, prejudice and, yes, racism exists in America today. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and too many others are tragic evidence of that fact. A compelling case can be made that the indifferent, incompetent, “shambolic” response of some government officials to Covid-19, which disproportionately kills Black Americans, is also evidence of that fact. That the Philadelphia Contributionship has endured for nearly three centuries is, indeed, remarkable. But let us recognize that during its first century Black Americans were sold as property, during its second they were denied the right to vote, and through much of its third mortgage and housing discrimination prevented many from owning a home. Homeowners insurance wasn’t really relevant. At MNA the work we do to protect Michigan’s natural heritage spans generations. To ensure that we can meet that challenge we continue to strengthen an institutional culture built on excellence, permanence and trust, so that our work and the work of previous generations will endure. Seeking national accreditation, a way of benchmarking our work against national best practices, is one way we continue to build an enduring institution (see page 10). But as Tracy Ortiz, the 2019 recipient of MNA’s Fredrick W. Case Jr. Environmental Educator Award, says in this edition’s interview (see page 33), there are students in Detroit who have not even seen the Detroit River, let alone experienced Michigan nature first-hand. As we approach MNA’s 70th anniversary we can begin to at least imagine celebrating its 100th. We should recognize, though, that merely enduring is not nearly enough. We need to listen, to empathize and to see what is happening in the world around us, and we need to act to ensure that not only do we protect nature forever, but we protect it for everyone. I am confident with your continued support we will, and that together we can make a difference.
Our Values Integrity | Commitment | Collaboration | Diversity and Inclusiveness | Accountability and Transparency | Respect
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Leave a Lasting Legacy By Including MNA in Your Will or Estate Plan By including MNA in your estate plans, such as a will, trust or other planned gift, you will join a group of dedicated people — our Guardians of the Future — who sustain MNA’s work and leave a legacy for many generations to come.
How to Help Secure Michigan’s natural heritage • • • •
Include a bequest to MNA in your will or estate plan Donate stocks, bonds or other securities Donate real estate or other property Invest in a charitable gift annuity
To learn more, please return the attached card, visit www.michigannature.org or call (866) 223-2231. Tax Identification Number: 38-6093404
James and Alice Brennan Memorial Nature Sanctuary Photo © Jason Steel
Make a Planned Gift to MNA
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Photo by Jason Steel
Inside | MNA
People • Land • Legacy National Accreditation Commission Praises MNA’s “Extraordinary Commitment” After an independent audit of MNA’s conservation programs and business practices, the national Land Trust Accreditation Commission (LTAC) renewed MNA’s accreditation for another five-year term, expiring in 2024. In addition to renewing MNA’s accreditation, the LTAC recognized MNA’s efforts to go above-andbeyond the national standards in “Special Commendations” for MNA’s “extraordinary commitment to excellence, permanence and trust.” MNA was first accredited in 2014 after the Board of Trustees made achieving accreditation one of MNA’s top priorities. Only about a third of the more than 1,363 land trusts in the United States are accredited. “Maintaining accreditation is one of the many ways MNA is committed to our mission,” said Garret Johnson, MNA’s Executive Director. “It means our work to protect rare, threatened and endangered species is supported by sound business practices that meet the highest professional standards. And to also earn Special Commendations, a true mark of distinction, speaks volumes to the progress we have made.”
The Land Trust Accreditation Commission was incorporated in April 2006 as an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance to operate an innovative program to build and recognize strong land trusts, foster public confidence in land conservation and help ensure the long-term protection of land.
A complete list of accredited land trusts and more information about the process and benefits can be found at www.landtrustaccreditation.org.
Ogemaw Falls. Photo by Joy Ziemnick.
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Inside | MNA
Klipfel Memorial Nature Sanctuary on Brockway Mountain. Photo by Marianne Glosenger
Endangered Species Action Fund Campaigns Secure Vital Habitat Thank you to all the generous donors who contributed to our Endangered Species Action Fund campaigns over the past year. Beginning with our successful Brockway Mountain Challenge last December, the online #GivingTuesdayNow and Endangered Species Day campaigns this spring, and our most recent $10,000 challenge in August, we exceeded our goals in each of these campaigns! Combined, we raised the needed funding to complete critical habitat expansion projects in three locations across the state. In the Upper Peninsula, the added lands on Brockway Mountain in the Keweenaw Peninsula and at Lake Superior Nature Sanctuary in Chippewa County contain important migratory habitat for raptors and neo-tropical songbirds. The campaign expanded MNA’s protected areas for each of these special places to nearly 500 acres. The third project expanded our Big Valley Nature Sanctuary in Oakland County, which holds approximately 10% of the global population of the Poweshiek skipperling, arguably Michigan’s rarest butterfly. The new addition provides essential buffer lands that will also benefit the federally threatened Eastern massasauga rattlesnake and connects two separate units of Big Valley to each other and other conservation land. A special thank you also goes to each of our challenge donors who stepped up with matching gifts for each of these campaigns - our success is due to their incredible support!
Join One of MNA’s New Virtual Events in 2021 We missed seeing our members, donors and volunteers after canceling our series of in-person events in early 2020. For 2021, we will be working to bring new content to our members and supporters in a digital format. On January 14, we will host James McCommons, author of “Camera Hunter: George Shiras III and the Birth of Wildlife Photography” for a presentation and live Q&A session on his new book. Read more about his book in our Booknotes section on page 32. Then, on February 11, we will be joined by Greg Bodker, an MNA Annual Photo Contest winner and well-known nature photographer in the state. Attendees will learn more about birds as he demonstrates the joys of birding you can have both in your backyard and all around Michigan. Photo by Greg Bodker
And more! Watch for updates and registration information for these events at michigannature.org. michigan nature| winter 2020
Online | MNA
Coolbough Natural Areas. Photo by Randy Butters
Voters Pass Constitutional Amendment to Fund Parks
MNA Voices Opposition to Endangered Species Act Changes
Michigan voters overwhelmingly approved Proposal 20-1 on November 3rd, 2020 with 84% of the nearly 5 million votes. This constitutional amendment allows money from oil and gas mining on state-owned lands to continue to be collected for the State Parks Endowment and Natural Resources Trust Funds, which fund land protection and the creation and maintenance of parks, nature areas, and public recreation facilities. The amendment also removes the cap on the Natural Resources Trust Fund, meaning that more oil and gas revenue would go toward land protection and would be protected from other state spending.
MNA recently submitted comments opposing the Trump administrationâ€™s proposed regulatory definition of habitat in the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Some environmental groups in the state came out in support of the amendment for the benefits it would provide to safe and accessible recreation. The opposition to the amendment was centered around concerns that too much funding would be spent on recreational facilities and not enough on land acquisition. MNA took a neutral stance on this amendment in consideration of the complexity of the issue.
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We believe that the proposal too narrowly defined habitat and that any definition must be sufficiently broad to encompass all the habitat attributes that can support endangered species, as well as buffer areas that contribute to the ecological health and function of those habitats. Moreover, a habitat definition should also recognize the speciesâ€™ historical range, all feasibly restorable habitat, and potential habitat resulting from species range expansions and dispersals due to impacts of climate change, habitat fragmentation, and other causes. This latest proposal is one of several recent attempts to limit the ESA under the current administration. MNA will continue to speak out in support of strengthening, not weakening, this landmark and vital statute.
Online | MNA
Species Spotlight: Wild Lupine (Lupinus perennis) Robb Johnston
Wild lupine grows in colonies creating a beautiful visual display - seas of green dotted with spectacular spikes of flowers in hues of blues and occasionally whites, purples and pinks. For us it’s a visual feast but for the federally-endangered Karner Blue butterfly it is the only food source during its larval life stage. The leaves of Wild lupine provide food not only for the Karner Blue caterpillars but also for the Eastern Persius Duskywing and Frosted Elfin caterpillars. It is also a nectar source for Spicebush Swallowtail and Painted Lady butterflies. Wild lupine is native to Michigan’s lower peninsula and grows in dry, sandy soils in habitats with little to no shade. These open savanna habitats are in decline, partly due to a lack of fire, which allows woody species to move in and eventually block the sunlight needed by the lupines. As a member of the legume family, their fruit is a typical bean pod that has been found to have an increased number of seeds at sites that have been burned. When ripe these seed pods will explode aiding in the dispersal of its seeds - this is one of its many attributes that make wild lupine useful in restoring habitats with dry, sandy soils. The name Lupinus is derived from the latin word “lupus” meaning wolf. These plants were given this name because of the false belief that they decreased soil fertility, when in fact, like other legumes, they are able to fix atmospheric nitrogen into a form that is usable by the plant. When paired with other savanna and sun-loving species, such as butterfly weed, western sunflower, blazing star and showy goldenrod, you can create a pollinator paradise right in your own yard.
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Sanctuaries | MNA
Expanding Sanctuaries to Protect Critical Habitat Munuscong Lake Conservation Area Grows to Over 1,000 Acres Each year, MNA seeks to build on its network of Nature Sanctuaries with a number of land acquisition projects at key conservation areas around the state. One of those for 2020 is a roughly 97-acre tract of forest in the Upper Peninsula’s Chippewa County, near Munuscong Lake along the shores of the St. Mary’s River. MNA purchased the property in early 2020 using funding from a North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grant in partnership with the Upper Peninsula Resource and Conservation Development Council. The 97-acre addition is in close proximity to MNA’s 762-plus-acre Schafer Family Nature Sanctuary at Roach Point which is named to honor brothers Mason C. and Melvin C. Schafer and their family for their many contributions to MNA (see page 16 for more information). Also nearby, MNA’s 182-acre Munuscong Lake Nature Sanctuary is just a half mile west of the Schafer Nature Sanctuary. The three sanctuaries now combine to protect 1,041 acres. Munuscong Lake is an expanded area of the St. Mary’s River Channel, connecting Lake Superior and Lake Huron south of Neebish Island. The St. Mary’s River serves as the
Indian Pipe Flower at Rocky Point Wetlands. Photo by Andrew Bacon. 14
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Blackburnian warbler. Photo by Kevin Vande Vusse.
Sanctuaries | MNA
primary shipping channel between Lake Superior and the Great Lakes with all the boats and lake freighters which traverse this area passing through the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie. There are significant acreages of wetland along the south shore of Lake Munuscong, from Maple Point on the west and continuing east beyond the mouth of the Gogomain River. These wetlands continue upstream into the Gogomain Swamp - a large, wild, and minimally fragmented swamp of which much is now protected as State Forest. The biological diversity, size, and relatively undisturbed quality of the coastal wetlands and minimally fragmented forests between Munuscong Lake and the Gogomain Swamp make the area an important conservation project for MNA. The sanctuaries include significant coastal and wetland habitat and help protect a large acreage of northern forest and wildlife habitat. MNA’s Conservation Director, Andy Bacon, explained, “One of the notable features of the 97-acre addition is that it is part of a migratory bird corridor that passes through the Straits of Mackinac and into Canada and serves as important stopover habitat for neo-tropical and other migratory species. On the initial site visit, six species of warblers were observed as well as numerous ruffed grouse.” Significant Addition at Vermilion Point Builds Conservation Partnership Thanks to the donation of a conservation easement by the Wild Shores Foundation, MNA completed a second land acquisition project in early 2020 at the Vermilion Point Nature Preserve. This 175-acre property protects over a mile and a half of Lake Superior shoreline, including suitable habitat forthe federally endangered Piping Plover. Owned by the Little Traverse Conservancy, the preserve was also once home to one of the first life saving stations on Lake Superior, providing aid to vessels in distress on the largest of the Great Lakes. “We are so grateful to Evan Noyes and the Wild Shores Foundation for the foresight to ensure the permanent protection of this special property so that wildlife can thrive along this undisturbed shoreline,” said Garret Johnson, MNA’s Executive Director. The preserve is near MNA’s Lake Superior Nature Sanctuary, a nearly 500-acre property to the west of Vermilion Point. Numerous distinct habitats can be found along this stretch of protected land, including active and stable sand dunes, cranberry bogs and various other wetland types, and mature upland hardwood and conifer forests. This variety of landscapes results in a diverse array of wildlife and plants throughout the seasons including wildflowers, orchids and migrating neo-tropical birds and raptors from spring through fall.
Lake Superior Nature Sanctuary, Photo by Andrew Bacon.
The Vermilion project, and the recent completion of multiple additions to the Lake Superior Nature Sanctuary (See “Endangered Species Action Fund Campaigns Secure Vital Habitat” page 11), combined with other nearby protected lands, will ensure that this truly wild corner of forests and undeveloped Lake Superior shoreline will remain untouched for generations to come.
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Sanctuaries | MNA
Every Sanctuary Has a Story... MNA Nature Sanctuaries come in all shapes and sizes. But their significance cannot be measured in the number of acres they protect – but rather in the diversity of species they help to sustain. Each and every one of the more than 180 nature sanctuaries that MNA holds is a unique example of what makes Michigan nature special. Sauk Indian Trail Plant Preserve The Sauk Indian Trail Plant Preserve is MNA’s smallest parcel at one quarter acre. It is a small prairie remnant, which was purchased in May 1978 in order to protect this tiny sliver of Michigan’s past. Located in St. Joseph County, just outside the town of Sturgis, the sanctuary is bordered on one side by US-12, and the other by a rail line, which together with Shimmel Road, form the triangle encompassing this natural area. The site was once the understory of an oak-opening adjacent to the dry-mesic historic Sturgis Prairie and contains rare prairie species. Today the sanctuary is recognized as one of the few remaining railroad prairies and is an important reminder of Michigan’s prairie heritage. Railroad prairies were often able to escape agricultural development due to the separate ownership of the railroad and the necessity of prohibiting the establishment of trees within the right-of-way. Throughout the Midwest, railroad companies would use fire to prevent woody vegetation from encroaching on the right of way. Sparks from passing trains could also ignite dry prairie grasses, leading to minor burns that maintained the prairie ecosystem.
The sanctuary’s historical significance also cannot be underestimated – as the name describes, it lies along the historic Great Sauk Trail that connected native people to what would later become Chicago and Detroit. Schafer Family Memorial Nature Sanctuary at Roach Point MNA’s largest sanctuary at just under 763 acres, the Schafer Family Memorial Nature Sanctuary at Roach Point, is the result of nine separate property acquisitions beginning in July of 1978 with an original donation by Mason C. Schafer. Mason Schafer contributed greatly to MNA’s success with assistance at a number of sanctuaries including: Black Creek, Dowagiac Woods, Goose Creek Grasslands, Karner Blue, Lakeville Swamp, and many others. Mason and his brother Melvin dedicated many hours as volunteer stewards at several MNA sanctuaries, conducting frog and toad surveys, and assisting with butterfly counts and invasive species removal. In 2011, the MNA Board of Trustees honored the commitment of the brothers by first establishing the Mason and Melvin Schafer Distinguished Service Award to recognize exceptional volunteer contributions to MNA over a minimum of ten years, and then by renaming this sanctuary, formerly known as the Roach Point Nature Sanctuary, after the brothers.
Butterfly milkweed and leadplant at Sauk Indian Trail Nature Sanctuary. Photo by John Bagley. 16
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Schafer Family Memorial contains a vast diversity of plant and wildlife species and natural communities. The biological diversity, size, and relatively undisturbed qualities make it one of MNA’s most important sanctuaries. Part of MNA’s Munuscong Lake Conservation Area, the
Sanctuaries | MNA
Schafer Family Memorial Nature Sanctuary. Photo by Jeff Ganley.
largest consolidated pocket of sanctuaries (see page 14 for more information), the sanctuary contains over one square mile of habitat, including the entirety of Roach Point, which juts into Munuscong Lake along the St. Mary’s River channel that connects Lake Superior to Lake Huron. Additionally, the sanctuary includes significant coastal and wetland habitat, as well as protecting a large amount of acreage of northern forest and wildlife habitat. The sanctuary contains eight natural communities including Great Lakes marsh, boreal forest, northern mesic forest, northern wet meadow, bog, northern shrub thicket, poor conifer swamp, and rich conifer swamp. Numerous species of wildlife and plants have been documented using the sanctuary including numerous rare species including the Lapland buttercup, black tern, American bittern, bald eagle, osprey, and Alaska orchid. The Schafer Family Memorial, nearby Lake Munuscong Nature Sanctuary, and the newly acquired Rocky Point Wetlands Nature
Sanctuary together comprise MNA’s Roach Point Conservation Area. Now encompassing over 1,000 acres, the Conservation Area represents MNA’s ongoing commitment to enhancing the conservation values and improving the ecological integrity of the nature sanctuaries held within our extensive network. “It all began with the first property acquisitions that ultimately became the Schafer Family Memorial Nature Sanctuary,” says Andrew Bacon, MNA’s Conservation Director. “It is exciting to see how that sanctuary and the Roach Point Conservation Area overall have grown over time.” Each of MNA’s sanctuaries have a story to tell, and play an important role in the overall landscape in Michigan. Whether protecting rare, threatened, and endangered species; imperiled natural communities; or rich ecological history; MNA is proud to build on its 65-plus year history of protecting an ever-growing network of Nature Sanctuaries throughout the state.
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An “alvar” is a rare type of grassland that is found in only three regions on Earth, including the Great Lakes south of the Canadian Shield. The unique habitat consists of very flat and thin soil (less than 25cm) over bedrock such as limestone, resulting from the last glacial recession. The alvar pictured here is part of The Nature Conservancy’s 1,200-acre Maxton Plains Preserve on Drummond Island, Michigan. Photo by Jesse Lincoln. 14 18
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Grasslands: Michiganâ€™s Forgotten Natural Heritage Grasslands were once found in abundance in Michigan. Today what remains are fragmented pieces that are readily transformed into agricultural and industrial lands. Is it too late to save this â€˜otherâ€™ iconic Michigan landscape?
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Savanna habitat in Allegan County. Photo by Jesse Lincoln.
Feature | MNA
In Michigan, it is easy to promote lush forests that are full of large old-growth pines, and intertwined with networks of trails that guide visitors on a journey through a seemingly prehistoric world. Indeed, these forests play a key role in the conservation of many species with their protective canopies and carpets of wildflowers, mosses, and mushrooms.
of people such as ring-necked pheasants, cotton-tailed rabbit, monarch butterflies, and coyote – others less well-known include the grasshopper and Henslow’s sparrows, and a vast number of insect and butterfly species.
But there is another staple Michigan landscape that deserves attention, and is of critical importance for protection – grasslands.
Typical images of grasslands evoke vast open fields, golden spikes of grass flowing like waves in the wind, insects buzzing, and warm scents of wheat in the summer sun. But grasslands are as varied as any habitat type - and many might surprise visitors who learn that the area they are visiting would be considered grassland.
For decades, the grasslands of Michigan have been transformed from wild savanna to croplands lacking biodiversity. Too often, they have been seen as good only for farming and livestock grazing, and the variety of species that they support has been ignored. Because of these misconceptions, many species have been displaced from their ideal habitat, resulting in declining populations, extirpation, and negative wildlife interactions with landowners. Some of the species that rely on grasslands are so-called ‘common’, and easily recognizable by a vast majority 20
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What is a Grassland?
One of the difficulties in conserving grassland is in understanding what features make them unique. There are a number of different types of grasslands, but one common element ties these habitat types together – a lack of woody tree and shrub growth. Historically, grasslands have been dominated by wildflowers and grasses, due to a combination of little rainfall and fires. This
Feature | MNA Grassland Habitats in Michigan Habitat Type
Some Rare Plants Found in Habitat
Some Rare Animals Found in Habitat
Fens are diverse, open minerotrophic peatlands that are dominated by graminoids, forbs, shrubs, and stunted conifers and are found throughout Michigan. Fens occur primarily on glacial outwash plains, outwash channels, lakeplains, and kettle depressions in outwash plains and moraines. Fens are peat-accumulating wetlands that receive water that has been in contact with mineral soils or bedrock.
• • • • • • • • • • •
purple milkweed willow aster cut-leaved water-parsnip prairie Indian-plantain narrow-leaved reedgrass Richardson’s sedge white lady’s-slipper shooting-star English sundew whiskered sunflower broad-leaved mountain mint • prairie dropseed
• • • • • • • • • • • • •
Blanchard’s cricket frog swamp metalmark spotted turtle Kirtland’s snake leafhopper Blanding’s turtle Huron River leafhopper Mitchell’s satyr Poweshiek skipper tamarack tree cricket red-legged spittlebug eastern massasauga eastern box turtle
**An interesting note: Prairie Fens (like those found at MNA’s Big Valley Nature Sanctuary) are classified under the Fen habitat type, and not the Prairie habitat type.
One of few wet grasslands, Northern and Southern wet meadow is an open, groundwater-influenced, sedge- and grass-dominated wetland that occurs in the northern Lower and Upper Peninsulas and typically borders streams but is also found on pond and lake margins and above beaver dams. Open conditions are maintained by seasonal flooding, beaver-induced flooding, and fire.
• • • • • •
prairie Indian-plantain Wiegand’s sedge linear-leaved gentian marsh-grass-of-Parnassus sweet coltsfoot dwarf bilberry
• • • • • • • • • •
moose short-eared owl American bittern gray wolf black tern northern harrier marsh wren northern blue butterfly boreal chorus frog Forster’s tern
Prairies are diverse, fire-dependent native grassland communities that occur infrequently in the Lower Peninsula but were historically abundant in southern Lower Michigan and infrequent farther north. Prairies occur on glacial outwash plains, pitted outwash plains, lakeplains, coarse-textured end moraines, and glacial till plains on a variety of soils, including sands, loamy sands, sandy loams, loams, and silt loams.
• • • • • •
leadplant Hill’s thistle prairie-smoke Missouri goldenrod sand grass dwarf bilberry
• • • • • •
Henslow’s sparrow grasshopper sparrow secretive locust black rat snake regal fritillary barn owl
Savannas are fire-dependent upland systems that are characterized by a scattered overstory of oaks and sometimes conifers and a graminoiddominated ground layer. The canopy cover is typically less than 60%. Savannas occur on a variety of soils, including sands, loamy sands, sandy loams, and loams, and soil moisture ranges from droughty to mesic (moderate).
• • • • •
dwarf milkweed western silvery aster side-oats grama grass Hill’s thistle Alleghany plum
• • • • • •
grasshopper sparrow dusted skipper prairie warbler Persius duskywing Karner blue pinetree cricket
*Data in this table compiled from the Michigan Natural Features Inventory online database and adapted for brevity. Learn more at mnfi.anr.msu.edu
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Feature | MNA
Prairie habitat at Clarence F. Hobert Memorial Nature Sanctuary. Photo by Adelyn Geissel.
allows for the fast-growing, sun-loving grasses and other plants to take hold while preventing shade-creating trees and shrubs from crowding these species out. Typical forest protection and conservation practices today rely substantially on preventing the wildfires that keep grasslands healthy, and so efforts at conserving both a forest and grasslandrich state are often at odds. Why are grasslands important? Grasslands have the potential to support a great variety of life. Species of all sizes have utilized grasslands at some point in time – in fact, when wild bison roamed through Michigan more than 200 years ago, grasslands would have been where they could be found. Today, grasslands support a much less obvious abundance of life, from wild orchids to tiny butterflies, even a number of reptiles. The Karner blue butterfly, for example, relies exclusively on wild lupine during its larval stage, a plant that grows only in high quality dry sand prairie (see Species Spotlight on page 13). This habitat type is of high conservation concern for MNA, with several Nature Sanctuaries in Newaygo County dedicated to restoring this habitat for a nearby population of Karner blue butterflies. 22
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Many other wildlife species still rely on grasslands for survival – migrating songbirds like the red-winged blackbird, one of the earliest indicators of spring’s arrival, nest and feed in grasslands. The tall grasses provide necessary cover from predation for ringnecked pheasants, white-tailed deer, and others as well. The abundance of life found in grasslands is indeed much more than meets the eye. The integrity of the soil in grasslands is a major contributor to the healthy ecosystem and their ability to support such a wide variety of species. It is also a major contributing factor to the attractiveness of grassland areas for conversion to farmland. The dense root systems found in grasslands contribute to the purification of water, trapping precipitation and filtering out nitrogen, phosphorous, and other harmful matter before it reaches streams and rivers. Because most of the plant material lies in the root system, when the plants of grasslands reach the end of their life, the carbon that is produced through their decomposition gets trapped in the soil. This natural process helps keep carbon out of the atmosphere, and also benefits the overall soil health and regrowth of new plant species. Prairies, savannas, and large grasslands are key habitats in the State of Michigan’s Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP), which outlines priority species and associated habitat types of greatest
Feature | MNA MNA’s Nature Sanctuaries Containing Grassland Habitat: • • • • • • • • • • •
Big Valley Brooks Oak-Pine Barrens Bullard Lake Fen Butternut Creek Clifford and Calla Burr Campbell Memorial Dolan Five Lakes Muskegon Four Macomb Ladies Goose Creek Grasslands Hildegard Wintergerst Memorial • Karner Blue • Lakeville Swamp
• • • • • • • • • • • •
Lamb-Fairbanks Lefglen Newaygo Prairie Osceola Woods Palmer Memorial Prairie Ronde Rose Center Wetlands Saginaw Wetlands Sand Creek Prairie Sauk Indian Trail Vermilion Wilkie Memorial
* Some stars on map reflect multiple sanctuaries.
conservation need in the state. A large grassland is one that encompasses an area of more than 25 hectares (61.8 acres). The Henslow’s sparrow, a state species of special concern, requires a minimum of 75 acres of habitat in order to thrive. Finding Grasslands
the ecosystem diversity at grassland restorations compared to native grasslands that had never been developed. Her study group found that “while prairie restoration can create diverse grasslands to provide habitat for many native species, restoration has not recreated the communities we see in rare prairie remnants that have never been tilled. Therefore we believe Leonard’s skipper butterfly. Photo by Robb Johnston.
Historically, grassland habitat made up a much larger portion of Michigan’s landscape than is found today. Some estimates by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) put the statewide total of grasslands at up to 2.3 million acres prior to European settlement. Today, this productive habitat type is much less widespread due largely to fire suppression, and fragmentation from development and agricultural activity. The Michigan Nature Association protects a number of grassland habitat areas as Nature Sanctuaries, and in partnership with other conservation organizations through land management, using the state’s Wildlife Action Plan as a guide. Several MNA Nature Sanctuaries contain one or more grassland habitat type as described in the map above. Can We Save Grasslands? As with many habitat types, grasslands have their heroes. Researchers like Dr. Emily Grman, an Assistant Professor at Eastern Michigan University, study plant communities and ecosystems to better understand how management and restoration efforts affect the species within grasslands. Her research at three MNA Nature Sanctuaries in 2013 explored michigan nature| winter 2020
Feature | MNA
“It is essential to continue to preserve the rare gems of remnant prairie habitat scattered throughout southwest Michigan” - Dr. Emily Grman
The Henslow’s Sparrow is an obligate grassland species requiring a minimum of 75 acres of tall, dense grassland habitat. Photo by Roger Eriksson.
it is essential to continue to preserve the rare gems of remnant prairie habitat scattered throughout southwest Michigan.” Other researchers, like Dr. Lars Brudvig at Michigan State University, study restoration of prairies on former agricultural lands across Southwest Michigan, including surveys of several MNA Nature Sanctuaries. The MNA properties serve as important reference sites for the restored properties by providing high quality benchmarks for examination. Some of Dr. Brudvig’s research findings are unsurprising – like the fact that the species diversity in restoration sites is highly dependent on those species that are introduced in the seed mix. Given the rarity of native prairies across the state, the likelihood of their associated species traveling naturally to a new site is low. Yet other findings are highly counterintuitive. “We’ve learned that the weather conditions that prairie restorations experience during their planting year can have long-lasting impacts on the prairies that subsequently develop.” Dr. Brudvig explains, “Surprisingly, seeding in what turn out to be dry years actually results in more diverse prairies over the long run, whereas seeding in rainy years actually result in less 24
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diverse prairies (with fewer prairie plant species living within them). The reason, it seems, is that wet planting years result in more weeds, which can suppress native prairie plants.” The Michigan Nature Association is working to protect and restore grassland habitat across the state as well. At its Osceola Woods Nature Sanctuary in Osceola County, for example, grassland restoration is ongoing in conjunction with the adjacent 779-acre Osceola-Missaukee Grassland State Game Area. This Nature Sanctuary was acquired in 1971 as part of an effort to preserve habitat for one of the last remaining populations of Greater Prairie Chicken in the state. This relative of the grouse was once found throughout the Midwest, requiring large-scale grasslands complexes of more than 10,000 acres in order to support a breeding population. And while the Greater Prairie Chicken has since been extirpated from the region, with active populations now found only in an isolated stretch of the Central US, MNA continues the work of protecting and restoring this habitat for the many other grassland species that utilize the sanctuary and State Game Area.
Feature | MNA
Grasslands support a wide diversity of plant life, as demonstrated by the numberous grass and flower species in the photo above. Unfortunately, they are also at risk from invasive species, which easily crowd out the native plant species. Bird’s foot trefoil (the yellow flower) is one such invasive. Introduced from Europe and Africa in the mid-20th century, the plant is sometimes recommended for use on farm edges, as the plant, which is a member of the legume family, helps to fix nitrogen in the soil. Photo by Lauren Ross.
In 2019, MNA was granted a $250,000 “Planet Award” by the Consumers Energy Foundation. The scope of the award includes restoration and habitat expansion at eleven of MNA’s Nature Sanctuaries, including Osceola Woods. The work being conducted there included shrub thicket removal in early 2020, which has allowed for more grassland plant species to flourish. Michigan’s Plan While we will likely never be able to turn back the clock to recover millions of acres of grasslands, we can still protect, restore, connect and even expand existing grasslands where possible.
And while the SWAP recognizes that large expanses of grasslands are all but lost, it also has a number of important steps that can help to preserve and restore what remains. In addition to the use of conservation easements and land acquisition to conserve or increase grasslands, a major component of the recommendations is increasing public awareness and understanding of the important, productive role that grasslands play in Michigan’s ecosystem. MNA is committed to the steps outlined in the state’s SWAP in an effort to protect and expand this forgotten landscape.
The SWAP outlines a number of conservation actions to promote and restore grassland habitat. Well-managed hayfields and pastures can contribute to grassland bird conservation, particularly when managed areas are adjacent to natural grassland habitat. Therefore, efforts are underway to promote enrollment in the federal Farm Bill program, which provides financial incentives and technical guidance to private landowners on grassland management. michigan nature| winter 2020
Research | MNA
Fire Lights the Way for Restoration Research
A volunteer monitors a controlled burn at an MNA Nature Sanctuary. Photo by Patricia Pennell.
Restoration ecologist Dr. Todd Aschenbach believes in the power of restoration as a positive force in nature and society. “It’s easy to see the negative when nature is degraded or destroyed,” says the Grand Valley State University biology professor. “Restoration provides a solution and improves sites for greater ecological diversity.” Aschenbach brings his extensive restoration field experience to bear in a long-term study that will help MNA and other natural land managers determine when and how frequently to use a powerful restoration tool—prescribed fire. According to Aschenbach, some of Michigan’s rarest ecosystems—prairies and savannas—have been degraded or destroyed through fire suppression but can be restored through the reintroduction of fire. However, the best time to burn remains a question. With the help of undergraduate students, Aschenbach will study the effects of applying fire at different times of the year (dormant vs. growing seasons) and in different order to measure the response of the plant community at five sites in West Michigan and Southern Wisconsin, including MNA’s Dolan Nature Sanctuary in Kent County. They will seek to answer a series of questions, including: Which species and groups of species increase? Which decrease? Which burn treatments are better at controlling invasive species or results in a vegetation structure that most closely matches that of a high-
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quality prairie or savanna? In the long term, Aschenbach would like to determine which treatment enhances carbon sequestration as a mitigation for climate change.
“When you apply a diversity of disturbances, you create a diversity of species” - Dr. Todd Aschenbach Behind the study is the understanding that species diversity is a measure of ecosystem function. An area with 200 species, instead of just 50, is more productive from an ecological standpoint, says Aschenbach. A diverse plant community increases ecological functions that in turn supports greater animal diversity. Humans benefit too, not only from the water, air, and other ecological services provided by well-functioning ecosystems, but often with greater cultural engagement with nature. To use one of Aschenbach’s favorite examples, people readily appreciate the aesthetics of a diverse landscape as opposed to the monotony of a pine plantation.
Research | MNA Virginia Bluebells in the forested area at Dolan Nature Sanctuary. Photo by Jess Foxen.
Dolan Nature Sanctuary Facts: Size: • 127 acres • Floodplain Forest Habitats: • Mesic Southern Forest • Oak Barrens* Notable • Blanding’s turtle Species: • Virginia Bluebells Notable Landscape • Coldwater River Features:
*GVSU Fire Research Area
“Fire is a natural disturbance that imparts a level of diversity on a system,” explains Aschenbach. “When you apply a diversity of disturbances, you create a diversity of species – diversity begets diversity. But when we burn only in April, for example, research shows that it favors some species and disfavors others. We may be creating a system that is not as diverse as it could be or we may not be assisting targeted species as much as we thought, depending on when we choose to burn.” Working with MNA and other partners, the five sites will be burned every two years at different times of the year (growing vs. dormant seasons). Aschenbach and his students will survey vegetation in the off years. “MNA will definitely be able to apply Todd’s research findings, and we look forward to working with him and his students in the coming years,” says Robb Johnston, MNA’s West Michigan Regional Stewardship Organizer. “The results will help guide the restoration decisions we make not only at Dolan, but at other prairie and savanna sites we manage in our sanctuary system.” MNA is grateful for the opportunity to partner with educators like Dr. Aschenbach, and we encourage anyone involved in applied research or place-based education to connect with MNA to see if our sanctuary network can support that work. A GVSU Student measures the study area at Dolan Nature Sanctuary. Photo courtesy Dr. Todd Aschenbach. michigan nature| winter 2020
Fox Kits Photo by Randy McKenzie 28 michigan nature| winter 2020
Help Michigan Nature and Receive Income for Life A charitable gift annuity is a planned gift that can support MNA while providing steady, annual payments â€” an annuity â€” for you and up to one additional beneficiary for a lifetime.
Consider a charitable gift annuity When you transfer an irrevocable gift to MNA, we commit to making a fixed annual payment during your lifetime. The remainder of the gift then passes to MNA. The benefits include the security of additional income, potential tax savings, and the satisfaction of knowing your gift will benefit MNA long into the future. To learn more, please return the attached card, visit www.michigannature.org or call (866) 223-2231.
Make a gift for nature that pays you back
Michigan Nature Association
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Stewardship | MNA
In Tribute: Charlie Goodrich MNA has its legends and Charles “Charlie” Goodrich is one of them. Even those who didn’t know him knew of the many contributions he made to the MNA sanctuaries he loved as a Steward, a trail builder, and a recipient of MNA’s two highest volunteer awards—Volunteer of the Year and the Mason and Melvin Schafer Distinguished Service Award. Sadly, Charlie passed away in May. He touched many lives in his quest to help people experience nature’s beauty while he taught the importance of giving back. His legacy of volunteerism and service transcends generations as he often enlisted his grandkids in his volunteer work, teaching valuable skills and life lessons along the way. Charlie was a pattern maker in the tool and die industry among many other skills. He lived his entire life in Hamilton Township, Van Buren County, ultimately serving as Township Trustee for 16 years, zoning administrator for 13, and commissioner of noxious weeds for five years. He learned about an MNA Nature Sanctuary adjacent to the historic Township Hall and less than four miles from his home. As he explained in a 2000 Kalamazoo Gazette article about his subsequent volunteer work at that sanctuary, “I’ve lived in this community all my life and it’s been good to me. I wanted to give something back here,” Charlie said of the sanctuary. “The first time I walked back to take a look around, I knew what I wanted to do.”
Photo courtesy Nancy Goodrich.
And what Charlie wanted to do was his first big MNA project---help others explore what is now known as the Phillips Family Memorial Nature Sanctuary and its significant coastal plain marsh by clearing trash from the property and ultimately constructing over three miles of trails, assisted by family and grandkids. As he further explained to the Gazette, he hoped that if more people used that path to enjoy the sanctuary, public awareness would be roused about the importance of preserving nature. So began a labor of love and connection to MNA. Charlie served as the Steward at Phillips Memorial for 19 years. But his service extended well beyond to other MNA Nature Sanctuaries where he led workdays and tours, cleared trails, and built benches, walkways, and bridges— and helped others. At one point he told Nancy that he wanted to visit all of MNA’s sanctuaries and managed to get to at least 34 of them. His favorite sanctuary was Barvicks Dunes, according to Nancy, also close to home in Van Buren County. Charlie built the stairs and walkway there about 10 years ago. Rebecca Kenney, the current Steward at Barvicks, sums up the spirit of Charlie: “Charlie really was a great help for me when I became the steward at Barvicks a few years ago. I barely knew my way around the place, so it was wonderful to have such a knowledgeable, patient & friendly guide as I got to know the beautiful sanctuary. Plus, he was always happy and eager to lend a hand at workdays and even manage work projects that were out of my skill set, like building boardwalks and stairs. He was a kind, thoughtful man and I’ll sure miss his presence at Barvicks and in the MNA community.”
Charlie at Phillips Memorial Nature Sanctuary. Photo by Matt Schultz.
Charlie’s passion for protecting nature, and commitment to MNA will be sorely missed. But his legend and legacy lives on for all of us.
In August of 2020, MNA’s Board of Directors renamed the Volunteer of the Year Award in honor of Charlie Goodrich.
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Education | MNA
Improving Conservation & Education Efforts Diana Digges identifies a plant at A Looking Glass Nature Sanctuary.
Diana Digges served as MNA’s Huron Pines AmeriCorps member beginning in February and despite all the changes that have occurred in 2020, managed to keep embodying the AmeriCorps motto of “Getting things done!” In her first couple months, Diana attended volunteer workdays with several Regional Stewardship Organizers (RSOs) at a variety of sanctuaries, learned how to run a volunteer workday and saw some of the amazing natural areas that MNA protects. She worked on revising the volunteer intake process with the Outreach and Conservation teams. She also had the opportunity to attend two environmental education training sessions and has been working on new outreach material for MNA’s School to Sanctuary program with Robb Johnston, RSO for the Western Lower Peninsula. With Stewardship Coordinator, Rachel Maranto, Diana started MNA’s new Sanctuary Steward training and education program. Together they hosted webinars helping orient the Stewards to the program, and giving the Stewards a space to connect with each other and the staff. She co-hosted MNA’s first public webinar for the Newaygo community with Robb on the endangered Karner blue butterfly, which they adapted for a virtual training for Diana’s fellow Huron Pines AmeriCorps members. At the end of July, she hosted another public webinar with Zach Pacana, RSO for the Eastern Lower Peninsula, on the conservation of prairie fens, a unique and rare natural community in the southern Lower Peninsula. Diana was also able to use her Master Gardening skills to spruce up the educational native gardens at the MNA office and her botanical knowledge to make a plant list for A Looking Glass Nature Sanctuary, where she also completed some stewardship work. Diana has accepted another term with Huron Pines AmeriCorps at the Michigan Natural Features Inventory, and we know she will do excellent work there as well.
“It has been a pleasure to be a part of the amazing work being done to protect and conserve Michigan’s natural history.” - Diana Digges
MNA has been selected as a host site for a Huron Pines Americorps member for the 2021 season as well. We look forward to continuing this mutually beneficial partnership and helping prepare the next generation of conservationists for a career in land conservation. michigan nature| winter 2020
Booknotes | MNA Recommended Reading Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants Robin Wall Kimmerer Milkweed Editions Paperback, $18
As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together to take us on “a journey that is every bit as mythic as it is scientific, as sacred as it is historical, as clever as it is wise” (Elizabeth Gilbert). Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, a mother, and a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings—asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass—offer us gifts and lessons, even if we’ve forgotten how to hear their voices. In a rich braid of reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings will we be capable of understanding the generosity of the earth, and learn to give our own gifts in return.
The Bird Way
Jennifer Ackerman Penquin Press Hardcover, $19.95 “There is the mammal way and there is the bird way.” But the bird way is much more than a unique pattern of brain wiring, and lately, scientists have taken a new look at bird behaviors they have, for years, dismissed as anomalies or mysteries. What they are finding is upending the traditional view of how birds conduct their lives, how they communicate, forage, court, breed, survive. They are also revealing the remarkable intelligence underlying these activities, abilities we once considered uniquely our own: deception, manipulation, cheating, kidnapping, infanticide, but also ingenious communication between species, cooperation, collaboration, altruism, culture, and play. Drawing on personal observations, the latest science, and her bird-related travel around the world, from the tropical rainforests of eastern Australia and the remote woodlands of northern Japan, to the rolling hills of lower Austria and the islands of Alaska’s Kachemak Bay, Jennifer Ackerman shows there is clearly no single bird way of being. In every respect, in plumage, form, song, flight, lifestyle, niche, and behavior, birds vary. It is what we love about them. As E.O Wilson once said, when you have seen one bird, you have not seen them all.
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New & Noteworthy Hidden in the Trees, an Isle Royale Sojourn Vic Foerster Arbutus Press Paperback, $19.95
Hidden in the Trees encompases more stories from the least visited National Park in the lower fortyeight states and also includes Vic’s keen observations about the natural world on the mainland as well.
A Year with Nature: An Almanac
Marty Crump University of Chicago Press Paperback, $17 A Year with Nature is an almanac like none you’ve ever seen: combining science and aesthetics, it is a daily affirmation of the extraordinary richness of biodiversity and our enduring beguilement by its beauty.
Camera Hunter: George Shiras III and the Birth of Wildlife Photography James H. McCommons University of New Mexico Press Hardcover, $34.95
Camera Hunter recounts Shiras’s life and craft as he traveled to wild country in North America, refined his trail-camera techniques, and advocated for the protection of wildlife.
Voices | MNA
“Walking through a forest and hearing the birds ... makes a real difference in how they learn”
Teacher, Clippert Multicultural Magnet Honors Academy, 2019 Frederick W. Case, Jr. Environmental Educator Award Winner
Tell us about your students. I teach middle school science at the Clippert Multicultural Magnet Honors Academy within the Detroit Public Schools system. My students live in southwest Detroit in a mostly Hispanic community. A high percentage of them are economically disadvantaged, the majority qualify for the free lunch program. You go above and beyond to provide hands-on learning, outdoor experiences. How does this make a difference? They are not getting much science in elementary school and a lot of them say they don’t like it in the beginning when they come to middle school. But they can learn so much more outside of the four walls, especially for science, which can be taught outside. Going out has a lasting effect, something they will remember because it is exciting to them. You can’t always get that in a classroom. And my students rarely have opportunities to learn about nature outdoors. I also think it’s important given the age we’re living in because kids are so focused on technology.
In what other ways does connection to nature help your students? It helps them understand that it is not all about them, we are all connected, and makes them more mindful about what they do and how it connects to the rest of the world. Those concepts can be challenging to teach in a classroom. But it makes them well-rounded individuals, responsible, respectful of nature and the outdoors. It puts new thoughts in their heads, thoughts they hadn’t had before they were exposed to nature.
“Many of my
students have never seen the Detroit River, a forest, or the Great Lakes.”
What changes do you see? The biggest changes are when students take up a stewardship learning project. They look at the challenges around them and the stress they see in the neighborhood. Then they come up with the ideas to make a positive change. And they are very excited to make it happen—it gives them a voice to make change happen in their neighborhood. That’s very powerful and transformative. What is your role in those kinds of projects? My role is to facilitate but they do the work. At first they may not know how to work in teams, but they learn how to do that, learn how to collaborate, do the research, and put together presentations. They present their projects to adults and answer their questions—a lot of very good skill building happens that they would not have gotten through the actual science curriculum.
What kinds of nature-based experiences should students in Michigan have? All kids should get out, and it’s especially important for those kids who don’t have those opportunities. Many of my students have never seen the Detroit River, a forest, or the Great Lakes. Walking through a forest and hearing the birds, or the deer that they saw, or a family of raccoons--they get excited about seeing wildlife or hearing frogs. Kids are curious, kids like to learn, and if you expose them to something they have never been exposed to, it makes a real difference in how they learn. And when they learn, they’ll take it back home and educate someone else.
Why did you become a teacher and who inspired you to do so? I became a teacher because I wanted to make a difference. I am a product of Detroit Public Schools and I wanted to give back, and I also want the students that I teach to know they are capable of succeeding in anything they set out to do. I did have a teacher who inspired me. Working with her provided me with many opportunities and experiences that I would not have had otherwise. She instilled in us that we were capable of doing anything we wanted. I am grateful for having her in my life. When kids know you care about them, you can get them to accomplish anything. michigan nature| winter 2020
Legacies | MNA
Remembering Miriam Wright Miriam Wright lived most of her quiet life in Dearborn, Michigan, watching birds and other wildlife from park benches, and later from the windows of her good friends’ homes while playing scrabble and writing limericks. Miriam clearly had a taste for adventure - enjoying travel, beautiful pictures, music and art; she was a frequent pen pal of many famous artists throughout her life, and would collect pictures from magazines to create birthday cards for those around her. For most of her adult career, she worked at the Ford Motor Company, though she never learned to drive. She was also a pianist, and enjoyed playing jazz and “honky-tonk” at local restaurants and at home, even in her final days. Miriam never married nor had children, and so as she aged, she was fortunate to have the support of friends like Laurelle Bennett to drive her on errands, and to watch the men’s Olympic swimming competition.
Miriam Wright looks over the landscape. Photo courtesy Laurelle Bennett.
Miriam was the last of her siblings when she passed away in December of 2018 – her sister preceded her in 2010, one brother was lost as a child to tuberculosis, the other as a fighter pilot in the World War. But Miriam loved beautiful pictures, and so one day while sitting with Laurelle and reading through an issue of Michigan Nature magazine, Miriam made the decision to leave a gift from her estate with the Michigan Nature Association, so that MNA could continue the work that she felt was important – maintaining natural places, and sharing beautiful pictures with others. MNA is honored to accept Miriam’s generous gift in support of our work toward leaving a lasting legacy in Michigan’s natural communities, and to share her story, and the beautiful pictures in this magazine, with others.
Memorials and Honoraria
January 1 - November 30, 2019
Donations given in memory or honor of MNA members and friends appear here in tribute. To learn how you can honor a loved one, call (866) 223-2231 or visit www.michigannature.org.
In Memory of:
Al Beeton by Ruth Vail Mark S. Carlson by Stephen Sage Jack Carso by Thomas and Linda Baes Fred Case by Roy and Ruth Elie Henry Clow by Anonymous Annajean Elvey by Claire and Steve Marshall by Tina and Peter Selde by Christine Handt by Theresa and Patrick Boensch Michael Fitzpatrick by David Goodine Betty Hart by Ruth Baker Dick and Millie Holem by Doug and Marie Holem 34
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Peggy Keeney by Rebecca Poole Flute Studio by Maryam Yasrebi Andrew Krafsur by Eileen Tomasik Susie and Kent Kraft by Karen Miller William Ludwig by Dr. Gerald Host by Anyonymous Kathern Louise McNaughton by Susan Babcock Richard Norling by Karen Kunkel James Rooks by John Heidtke Curtis Vail by Jonathon Beeton by Linda and John Harris Radcliff “Rad” Wallen by Susan Babcock Karen Weingarden by Marshall Weingarden
Patrick Wolf by Karen Sykes by Charlene Vanacker and David McFarlane Dorothy M. Winnard by Margo Czinski Wayne Bernard Corneila Blaga James Cnossen Jr. Robert J. DeGrazia Donald Facine Melvin Glaser Phyllis Gugel Henry Gutenkunst Nancy Hartman Mary Lou Janes Frederic “Fred” Keywell Adelina Lee Mrs. Lawrence Lee Beverly Lessen Imbi McErlean Irving Nusbaum Gayle Smith by Dr. Lewis Rosenbaum
In Honor of:
Bumhoffer Family by Jennifer Buddenborg Bertha Daubendiek by Victoria Hellmer Sandra Hodges by Dr. Lewis Rosenbaum Stephen Kelley by Barbara Kelley by Julie Hurley Susan Millar by Dennis Skriba Sylvia Taylor by Ray Ziarno Ruth Vail by Cynthia and Thomas Harris Deb and Ron Van Proeyen by Joelyn Pawenski Bev Walters by Donn and Kris Kipka
“The work MNA has done is simply irreplaceable... MNA is protecting the soul of Michigan.” Dave Dempsey
award-winning author of Ruin and Recovery: Michigan’s Rise as a Conservation Leader
Photo by Dustyn Blindert 35 michigan nature| winter 2020
Photo by Michigan Nut Photography
MNA’s Statewide Network of Nature Sanctuaries For over 65 years, MNA’s members, donors and volunteers have built an unparalleled statewide network of nature sanctuaries. Today there is at least one MNA nature sanctuary in 59 of Michigan’s 83 counties.
Handford Memorial Twin Waterfalls
Allegan County Allegan Valley Wade Memorial
Alpena County Colby Peter Memorial Gull Island Grass Island Bird Island Morris Bay
Antrim County Cedar River Green River
Baraga Old Growth Lightfoot Bay
Thornapple River Thornapple Lake
Benzie County Hart
Harvey’s Rocks Huron County Four Macomb County Carey Memorial Sonnenberg Memorial Ladies Saginaw Wetlands Clare County Pepperidge Dunes Alta Warren Parsons Kernan Memorial Trillium Ravine Memorial Ingham County Beck Memorial Red Cedar River
Branch County Kope Kon
Campbell Memorial Pennfield Bog Fish Lake Bog Flowering Dogwood
Dowagiac Woods Riley-Shurte Woods Radebaugh Memorial Wilding
A Looking Glass Iosco County Sanctuary Frinks Pond
Martin Bay Three Wilderness Islands Bertha K Daubendiek
Dauner Martin White Cedar Swamps Zahrfeld Memorial
Briggs Cox Memorial
Hillsdale County Pat Grogan Sarah Jane’s Munuscong Lake Hobert Memorial Lake Superior Sand Creek Prairie Lake Huron Sand Dunes Zeerip Memorial Houghton County Soo Muskeg Robert Thorson Brown Schafer Family at Roach Rockafellow Memorial Point River Bend Carlton Lake Wetlands
Jackson County Columbia Lefglen
Kalamazoo County Wilkie Memorial Flowerfield Creek Barton Lake Palmer Memorial Brewer Woods
Kent County Dolan
Dean Webster Memorial Estivant Pines Upson Lake Keweenaw Shores I Keweenaw Shores II Klipfel Memorial Rooks Memorial
Hylton Memorial Myrtle Justeson Memorial Gunn Memorial Mason County Grinnell Memorial Franklin F. and Brenda L. Holly Eagle Harbor Red Pine Midland County Dunes Bullock Creek Cy Clark Memorial Black Creek Monroe County Redwynâ€™s Dunes Swan Creek Gratiot Lake Overlook Montcalm County John J. Helstrom Krum Memorial Marinerâ€™s Preserve at Silver Muskegon County River Falls Five Lakes Muskegon Ruth E. Johnson Memorial
Petite Wetland Zucker Memorial
Martin Beland Miller Robert Powell Memorial Willow Lake Prairie Slough Goose Creek Grasslands McCulley-Bastian Broehl Memorial 1 Broehl Memorial 2 Tiffin River
Bullard Lake Fen Lyle and Mary Rizor Hudspeth Memorial H.E. Hardy Memorial
Brooks Oak Pine Barrens Karner Blue Newaygo Prairie
Lambs Fairbanks Clifford and Calla Burr Memorial Lakeville Swamp Timberland Swamp Yntema Wildlife Oasis Rose Center Wetlands Brandon Township Morgan Porritt Big Valley
Ogemaw County Lost Lake
Theodore Hunt Memorial
Two Hearted River Swamp Lakes Moose Osceola Woods Refuge Oscoda County Trout Lake Kenneth R. Luneack
Stratton Memorial Beaver Dam Fred Dye Scherer Epoufette Bay Bois Blanc Island Beavertail Point Michigan Meridian Hiawatha
Otsego County Frost Pocket
Presque Isle County Mystery Valley Karst Spitler Shore
Leatherleaf Jack Pine Bog Jackson Memorial
Fox River Huntington Memorial Walker Memorial
Wilcox Warnes Braastad Echo Lake
Cedar Lake Manistique Dune and Swale
Prairie Ronde Savanna Hildegard Wintergerst
St. Clair County
Van Buren County
Leonatti Memorial Louis G. Senghas Polovich Memorial Bertha A. Daubendiek Trillium Trail Galbraith Ray Memorial McGaw Memorial Jasper Woods Memorial Brennan Memorial Edna S. Newnan Alice W. Moore Woods St. Clair Lakeplain Forest
St. Joseph County Prairie Banks White Pigeon River Sauk Indian Trail Chen Memorial
Wood Duck Domain Phillips Family Memorial Black River Butternut Creek Hultmark Memorial Barvicks Sand Dunes Bankson Lake Bog Great Bear Swamp
Joan Rodman Memorial
Michigan Nature Association 2310 Science Parkway, Suite 100 Okemos, MI 48864 www.michigannature.org
Become a Monthly Protector Today! By Giving a Monthly Gift MNA’s
Monthly Protector Program MNA’s Monthly Protector Program is a convenient way to help protect Michigan’s natural heritage and spread your gift out over a period of time. By authorizing MNA to automatically charge your credit card or checking account an amount of your choice ($10 minimum) every month, you provide sustainable support to help MNA acquire, protect and maintain critical habitat for rare, threatened and endangered species throughout the year.
Donate Today Use the enclosed envelope, call (866) 223-2231, or visit michigannature.org to set up your recurring gift today! 38
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Twin Falls Memorial Plant Preserve. Photo by Marilyn Keigley.