By Dave Wendling and Tina Patterson
Hamilton Township Coastal Plain Marsh: April 30, Monday
Can one person truly make a difference in the world? If your name is Charlie Goodrich, you already have and continue to do so. Charlie has dedicated his life to the Hamilton Township Coastal Plain Marsh in a huge way. If you are walking on a trail there, Charlie carved it out. On a boardwalk? Charlie built it. Sitting on a bench and relaxing? Charlie put that there, too. Sometimes family and friends help Charlie in his work, but the hand of Mr. Goodrich is everywhere. His dedication and enthusiasm is boundless, and when he is not working in “his” sanctuary he is working at another MNA sanctuary or helping to restore the Historic Hamilton Grange Hall which adjoins the Hamilton Coastal Plain Marsh. Oh, one more thing about Charlie – his wife Nancy made the most delicious cookies in the shape of our “mitten” with a little candy dot to show where the sanctuary is! What a yummy confection our 12 hikers had at the end of the trail.
This sanctuary consists of a 79-acre recovering woodland that surrounds a coastal plain marsh. Charlie led the hike and also gave a bit of history as to how the plants, called coastal plain disjuncts, in the marsh came to be there. Only found on the eastern seaboard, and in southwest Michigan and northern Indiana, it is believed the plants were transported here 11,000 years ago as the last of the Wisconsin glacier receded, creating a drainage channel down the Hudson River connecting Michigan with the Atlantic coastal plain. Among the rare plants that grow here are meadow beauty, tall beak-rush, bald-rush, and seedbox.
Surrounding the marsh you can find Virginia chain fern, large patches of buttonbush, and winterberry. There is a large colony of black gum trees on the eastern edge of the marsh with drooping branches and leaves that turn bright scarlet to deep red in early to mid-September. Continue reading