MNA Reaches 10,000 Acres

MNA is thrilled to formally announce the protection of our 10,000th acre, a milestone MNA founders could only dream of.

Currently, MNA protects land in 58 of Michigan’s 83 counties. As the first land trust, and the only state-focused one in Michigan, MNA is proud to have a strong presence in the protection of special natural areas. From our first property in 1960, MNA has grown to protect land, habitat and species at 170 nature sanctuaries throughout both peninsulas, now and forever.

Boosting MNA’s land ownership into the 10,000 acre range is the recent acquisition of an easement on a 600-acre property in Oscoda County, resulting from a partnership among the J.A. Woollam Foundation, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and MNA.

Although the number of sanctuaries has multiplied over the years, former President and Trustee Dick Holzman says MNA still has the same strong focus that it had during his time on the Board in the 1970s.

“Our goal has always been to acquire and protect exceptional habitats,” Dick says, “but at that time, we were talking about 20- to 40-acre parcels of land. We never thought 10,000 acres would happen. It’s amazing!”

Nearly sixty years after MNA began as a small birding group, the organization still values its roots while looking to the future. Executive Director Jeremy Emmi says the organization is looking toward acquiring more, and someday doubling the amount of, protected special natural areas.

“We’ve built the capacity of MNA to where we could protect more land each year, and we’re still headed in that direction,” he says. “It takes a lot of resources, a lot of time, and a lot of hard work, but through our incredible volunteers and donors, we’ve spent the time, done the work, and raised millions of dollars to protect land in Michigan.”

When it comes to why MNA continues to protect land throughout the state, the reasons are endless.

“We do it for nature itself, and we do it for humanitarian reasons so that future generations can enjoy it,” Jeremy says. “We do it because it helps protect species and habitat diversity and promotes all of the other functions that natural habitat provides.”

“Most of all, we do it for Michigan.”

For more information about MNA and our 10,000 acres, see the special section in the April newsletter and our website.

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Adopt a Beach, Save the Great Lakes

By Angie Jackson

Together, the Great Lakes make up the largest freshwater body in the world. As many as 26 million people depend on water drawn directly from the lakes, which provide approximately one-fifth of the world’s fresh surface water supply.

The Great Lakes are also home to some of the most beautiful and accessible shorelines in the country. From St. Joseph, Benton Harbor and Ludington in the west to St. Clair Shores, Bay City and Oscoda in the east, and all the way up to Marquette and the Keweenaw Peninsula, Michigan’s shorelines offer some of the best, close-to-home beach vacation destinations. While many of us have enjoyed the Great Lakes’ natural splendor, it is also our responsibility to help keep the beaches healthy and beautiful for generations to come.

Adopt-a-Beach, a program started by the Alliance for the Great Lakes, makes it easy for people to make a difference. The year-round program allows families, businesses and whole communities to adopt a beach along one of the Great Lakes shores. Adopters visit the beach multiple times each year to collect data on beach health, longshore current, litter conditions and water bacteria levels. Last year, the program facilitated cleanup events at 292 locations throughout the Great Lakes’ shorelines, and volunteers removed 31,295 pounds of trash.

First-time adopters are invited to training sessions on the Internet or in-person and can also view informational videos on YouTube. The information is recorded into a regional database and used to improve beach conditions.

Can’t commit to adopting a beach but still want to contribute to the cause? Volunteer at an upcoming Adopt-a-Beach clean up event open to the public in Muskegon and Ottawa Counties. Click here for more information.

Adopting a beach is just one way you can help protect Michigan’s special natural areas for future generations. MNA offers Protection Certificates, which allow you to endow a portion of Michigan’s natural land. For only $10 per 100 square feet, you can protect a portion of land forever. Certificates make great gifts for friends and family. To purchase a certificate online, visit the MNA store.

For more information on how you can get involved in these and other efforts to protect the environment, see the How You Can Help section on our website.

MNA Welcomes New Trustee

In March, MNA held the election for the Board of Trustees. Trustees Mary Ann Czechowski and Debby Igleheart were re-elected. MNA also welcomed a new Trustee, Aubrey Golden.

Aubrey, from Southeast Michigan, came to MNA as the current president of the Michigan Karst Conservancy. With an interest in nature that traces back to his early years as a boy scout, Aubrey values Michigan’s special natural features. He has an appreciation for stewardship activities and enjoys maintaining MNA’s sanctuaries at work days.

Recently, we sat down with Aubrey to ask him about his work with MNA.

How and when did you learn about the Michigan Nature Association?

I became interested in MNA because of the partnership MNA and the Michigan Karst Conservancy formed to protect the Mystery Valley Karst Conservancy and Nature Sanctuary. As president of the conservancy, I knew about MNA’s program. I learned more about the organization from MNA Executive Director Jeremy Emmi.
My initial interest was in the Michigan Karst Conservancy forming a partnership with MNA. We knew MNA was an organization also interested in the diverse aspects of nature in Michigan; as president of the conservancy, I knew about MNA’s program. I learned more about the organization from MNA Executive Director Jeremy Emmi. Once I became involved with MNA, I became very interested in the stewardship days.

What activities are you currently participating in with MNA?
I’ve been involved in a number of events with Regional Stewardship Organizer Katherine Hollins and have attended almost every event of hers this fall and winter. I’ve enjoyed being out in the field removing invasive species and helping to maintain sanctuaries. Stewardship activities have been my primary involvement since my greatest interest lies in MNA’s stewardship program. It’s one thing to have sanctuaries, but it’s another thing to do stewardship at those properties.

Do you have a favorite sanctuary or plant preserve?
Mystery Valley is my favorite, obviously because we developed a management plan to protect one of the most unique features of the state. I’ve visited several other sanctuaries in the state, but Mystery Valley – with its disappearing river, unique flora and cracks – is one of the most unique properties protected by MNA.

What is your background and are you from Michigan?
I have lived in southeastern Michigan (Detroit and Oakland County) since 1948. I am married to Martina and have 2 sons – Lucas and Thomas. I taught in the Walled Lake Consolidated School District for 34 years and also served for several years as the President of the Walled Lake Education Association during my tenure in the district; I have been retired since 1999. I currently represent the Waterford Township Board on the Drayton Plains Nature Center Advisory Board. I attended Union College in Kentucky, where I studied English and political science and had a minor in biology and received both my bachelors and Master’s degrees.

When did you first become interested in nature and the natural environment?
My interest in nature traces back to the time I spent as a Boy Scout in the 1950s in Detroit. I enjoyed working on outdoor projects, hiking and wondering why nature was the way it was.

What, to you, is special about the state of Michigan?
The fact that there are so many unique, and sometimes little known, karst features throughout the state is very special to me. I’m especially interested in how varied Michigan’s landscape is. You can go from mountains in the Upper Peninsula to sand dunes along the lakes. These aspects prove how diverse Michigan is, and how special.

What, to you, is special about MNA?
MNA has accumulated so much land. Saving 10,000 acres of land, and more importantly varied land, is incredible. MNA has its stamp on the Upper Peninsula and western, northern and southern Michigan. It’s important that MNA is not an organization that just focuses on one thing; it focuses on the totality of the state’s landscape.

Remembering Edna Newnan, a Valuable MNA Leader

Edna Newnan was more than a volunteer at MNA. She was an essential force.

During her work with the organization, which began in the 1960s, Edna served as President, board member and co-editor of “In Retrospect,” a book that covers the early history of MNA. Published in 1988, the book is a constant reminder of Edna’s love for nature and her efforts that always went above-and-beyond. Her work helped MNA better protect Michigan’s special natural areas, and resonates the importance of protection and stewardship throughout Michigan.

MNA Executive Director Jeremy Emmi remembers Edna as incredibly good-natured, intelligent and inquisitive.

“She was always reading and learning more,” Jeremy says. “She had such a complete and total love for the outdoors.”

And even when her term as a board member and President came to an end, Edna remained active in MNA’s Mission, working particularly hard on a statewide land protection campaign that ran from 2004 through 2007.

Edna earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oakland University in 1967 and a Master’s of Arts from the University of Michigan in 1974. She also undertook ministerial studies and Marygrove College. As a naturalist, Edna studied under Walter Nichols of the Cranbrook Institute of Science.

Her compassion for conservation led her to become involved in environmental causes and apply that knowledge to her work at MNA. Edna also enjoyed traveling, dog breeding, bird watching and yoga.

Edna will be remembered by many for her loyalty, selfless leadership and concern for others. MNA will always remember her for her dedication and generous service to the natural world.