MNA’s Annual Members’ Meeting is Tomorrow!

We’re getting excited! The Annual Members’ Meeting is tomorrow, March 31, at the Kalamazoo Nature Center. Join us from 1:00 p.m.- 4:00 p.m. to get updates from MNA and meet members and friends from across the state.

Featured speaker Dave Dempsey, author of Ruin & Recovery, Michigan’s Rise as a Conservation Leader, will talk about the role of land protection in Michigan’s rise as a conservation leader. Books will be available for purchase and signing at the meeting.

We’ll also be celebrating MNA’s 60th anniversary! Join us for anniversary cake and other refreshments.

This event is free for both members and nonmembers. For complete details, visit our website or call (866) 223-2231.

We hope to see you there!

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The Plight of the Honeybee

By Emma Ogutu

Honeybees have been vanishing at a fast rate over the last five years, threatening Michigan’s multi-billion dollar agriculture industry. Many fruits, vegetables and animal crops depend on the bees for pollination.

A scientist investigates Colony Collapse Disorder. Photo: Washington State University

Since the initial report of their disappearance in the winter of 2006, scientists like Michigan State University’s Zachary Huang have been scrambling to unravel the mystery – dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder. He offers his expertise to the Michigan Beekeepers Association.

His current research focuses on two possible culprits:  the parasitic nosema and varroa mites, whose effect on bees makes them susceptible to pesticides and reduces the lifespan and fertility of infant queen bees. In the last two decades, Varroa mites have wiped out wild honeybees and about a third of their managed kin in Michigan, according to MSU’s Agriculture Extension.

Other studies have linked the disappearance of honeybees to a parasitic fly or agricultural chemicals, but Huang is quick to point out that there’s no single factor responsible for the massive kill. “It’s a cumulative result on a number of factors,” he said.

Honeybee on Knapweed. Photo: Trish Steel, Wikimedia Commons

The clearing of natural habitats to pave way for more agricultural land or other developments coupled with the practice of planting single crops in large areas could also be major factors causing this phenomenon, according to the Huang. “When you clear natural habitats, you wipe out plants that provide food and other defenses to the bees, and when you plant a single crop in thousands of acres, you eliminate bees’ food diversity,” he said.

The loss of honey bees is quite insidious; sometimes up to 40 percent are lost in a winter season, according to MSU’s Agriculture Extension. “You never realize the immediate loss of a species because there are hundreds of thousands of species out there,” Huang said.  “That makes it even harder to predict the effect on crops.”

You can find honeybees and knapweed in several of MNA’s sanctuaries, including Newaygo Prairie Nature Sanctuary, Karner Blue Nature Sanctuary and Five Lakes Muskegon Nature Sanctuary. MNA’s policy is to remove invasive species, such as knapweed, so that they can be replaced with bee-friendly native species. Some plants such as late figwort, swamp milkweed and Culver’s root, can benefit from removal of knapweed while providing bees plenty of pollen and nectar.

MNA Asks for Reconsideration of Brockway Cell Tower

By Allie Jarrell

Lake Superior View from Brockway Mountain. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

In January 2012, MNA President Stephen Kelley sent a letter on behalf of MNA asking the Keweenaw County Zoning Board of Appeals to reconsider its decision to erect a 220-plus-foot cell phone tower on Brockway Mountain. Four MNA sanctuaries are on Brockway Mountain Drive, near the tower’s proposed location. MNA believes that the addition of the tower will unnecessarily injure and kill migratory birds, negatively impact scenic values and visitor experiences, and potentially result in a net negative economic impact.

Since 1973 MNA has been involved with conserving land in Keweenaw County, and now owns a total of 15 nature sanctuaries there including the four Brockway Mountain Drive properties. These sanctuaries not only conserve land, but promote tourism that would be negatively impacted by the 23-story tower. Scenic vistas will be interrupted by buildings and lights, and visitors will be confronted with the tower base, fencing and wires. In addition, migratory birds, such as eagles, falcons and hawks, are expected to suffer increased mortality rates, which is detrimental to a site that acts as a resting place for as many as 100 bald eagles on some days. Running electrical lines throughout the mountain will also cause further loss of rare plants and corridors for wildlife movement on the ground.

MNA urges the county to work to reduce the anticipated negative wildlife and scenic impacts, and to instead develop a solution that honors their claim to be “Michigan’s Scenic, Historic, and Recreation Wonderland.”

Brockway Mountain Drive Panorama. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Lakeville Swamp Expanded by Siblings’ Donation

By Johanna Swanson

A gift from three siblings will expand a sanctuary and continue the generous legacy established by their family.

Stoney Creek in the Lakeville Swamp Nature Sanctuary

Nearly two acres will be donated to the Michigan Nature Association’s Lakeville Swamp Nature Sanctuary in Oakland County, coming from three siblings (Cynthia Bone, Kathleen Niemenski, and Raymond Witt) who inherited the property from their parents. In a unique twist, their great-uncle, Cecil Dunn, and his wife, Hazel, donated the original one acre in 1963 to create the sanctuary, and their grandparents, Gerald (Cecil’s brother) and Elizabeth Dunn, donated 22 acres to the sanctuary in April 1969, effectively doubling it from 21 acres to 43. In total, the Dunn family and their descendants will have contributed 25 acres to Lakeville Swamp.

Lakeville Swamp Nature Sanctuary was the fifth property acquired by the MNA. It opened in September 1963 and with the two acre addition, encompasses 78 acres. The addition was approved by the MNA Board of Trustees, and the deal was finalized in March.

Trustee Election Results Are In

By Mitch Lex

The active participation of MNA members has long been a crucial aspect in the decision-making process of the association. One of the biggest decisions made each year is nominating and selecting individuals to serve on the Board of Trustees. Remaining true to the 60-year history as an organization that has effectively worked with its citizens, MNA members filled out their ballots to decide on volunteer leaders to help guide and administer MNA’s operations.

The results of this year’s elections are in, and members of the MNA have elected two familiar faces, while selecting two first-time trustees to join them. Stanley Dole and Gisela Lendle King have both been re-elected to the board and will continue their many successful years of notable service as volunteers and trustees of the MNA.

First time board members elected are Lisa Appel and William D. McNaughton. Lisa serves as the coordinator of watershed education at Cranbrook Institute of Science, and Bill is a biology professor at Oakland Community College. The MNA is excited to have the abundance of knowledge and experience each of the new members will contribute.

Michigan’s Newest State Park: Rockport

By Allie Jarrell

On February 10, state recreation officials announced that Rockport State Park, formerly known as the “Rockport Property,” is Michigan’s newest state park.

The move from property to park was endorsed and promoted by the Michigan State Park Advisory Committee as well as the Negwegon State Park, Rockport State Park, and Thompson’s Harbor State Park (NRTH) Advisory Committee. The NRTH committee consists of a group of citizens and was established to work with the Department of Natural Resources. Management plans for all three parks (Negwegon, Rockport and Thompson’s Harbor) have been developed by the DNR and the NRTH Advisory Committee.

MNA's Julius C. and Marie Moran Peter Memorial Nature Sanctuary

MNA's Julius C. and Marie Moran Peter Memorial Nature Sanctuary Photo: Katherine Hollins

Rockport State Park is located on the shores of Lake Huron just north of Alpena, and includes 4,237 acres of land. The park features a deep-water protected harbor, 300-acre limestone quarry, unique series of sinkholes, dedicated Natural Area (Besser Natural Area) and various recreation opportunities, such as a boat launch facility.

About 11 miles south of Rockport is MNA’s Julius C. and Marie Moran Peter Memorial Nature Sanctuary. This 95-acre sanctuary in Alpena County is home to Grass Lake, which is surrounded by beautiful flora such as the dwarf lake iris, bird’s eye primrose and white cedars. In addition, Hamilton Road, which runs through the area, was declared the first Michigan Natural Beauty Road in 1971.

For more information on Rockport State Park, please visit the MI DNR website. To learn more about the Peter Memorial Nature Sanctuary and other sanctuaries throughout the state, check out MNA’s website!

LEGO Map of Wilcox Warnes Nature Sanctuary in Macomb

Check it out! MNA Emissary Paul Messing created a scale model of Wilcox Warnes Nature Sanctuary out of LEGOS!

Wilcox Warnes in Lego Form

What a cool and creative way to show off one of our Showcase Sanctuaries! Great job, Paul!

If you’d like to visit Wilcox Warnes, we have a Volunteer Day planned this Saturday (March 10) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the sanctuary, located in Shelby Township. Visit our website or call 517-655-5655 to learn more!