MNA Study Sheds Light on Rare Species

Michigan monkey-flower

The Michigan monkey-flower. Photo by Al Menk

MNA’s stewardship team recently completed a federally-funded study of the impact of removal of sediment and accumulated biomass on a Michigan monkey-flower subpopulation. The conclusions of this study could help guide Michigan monkey-flower management in the future.

The Michigan monkey-flower is a federally endangered species known in only 15 locations on earth, with only 12 considered viable over the long-term. In 1981, MNA purchased a tract of land in the Upper Peninsula that contained a known sub-population of the Michigan monkey-flower.
The monkey-flower needs mucky soil and flowing springs near the shores of northeastern Lake Michigan and the Straits of Mackinac. The plant is susceptible to nearby disturbances that alter an area’s hydrology, like road construction or development, and can threaten the viability of the few monkey-flower populations remaining in Michigan.
MNA hopes to conduct additional research in the future to better understand the needs of this endangered species. To learn more about the Michigan monkey-flower, visit the Michigan Natural Features Inventory website

Michigan Tech Students Make a Difference at MNA Sanctuaries

Michigan Techline Group

The Michigan Techline Group helped out at Keweenaw Shores II

By Nancy Leonard

Make a Difference Day is a national day of helping others – a celebration of neighbors helping neighbors. Everyone can participate. Created by USA WEEKEND Magazine, Make a Difference Day is an annual event that takes place on the fourth Saturday of every October.  The leaders of Michigan Technological University encourage their students to help their neighbors in the Keweenaw on Make a Difference Day, and this year, an overwhelming 700 MTU students volunteered their time throughout the community.

For the second year in a row, steward Nancy Leonard with the help of naturalist Karena Schmidt welcomed a group of  21 enthusiastic volunteers at Keweenaw Shores II Nature Sanctuary.  This class C sanctuary protects 100 feet of spectacular conglomerate Lake Superior shoreline and the rare and threatened plants that reside there.  The day’s project was the careful removal of invasive spotted knapweed that threatens the fragile rocky shoreline environment.

Students Digging

MTU students digging a water bar at Estivant Pines

Meanwhile, at Estivant Pines, stewards Ted Solden and Charlie Eshbach, assisted by volunteer Peter Ekstrom, worked with a group of 10 student volunteers. The students carried lumber, cleaned and built new water bars, and rebuilt a rock stairway on the sanctuary’s Cathedral Loop.

Group along shore

The volunteer group at Keweenaw Shores II spread out across the shoreline

After several hours of work at both sanctuaries, all the students were pleased that they could actually make a difference in the Keweenaw and MNA was thrilled to have their help!  Thank you to everyone who spent the day with us to protect Michigan’s natural heritage.

If you’re interested in helping out at an MNA sanctuary in your area, visit MNA’s calendar of events for a list of volunteer days.

The Odyssey’s Finale at Black Creek Nature Sanctuary

By Tina Patterson and Dave Wendling

Group along the shore

The group enjoys a beautiful sunny day on the shores of Lake Superior. Photo by Dave Wendling

September 30 was another amazing day in copper country as blue skies and the fantastic fall color welcomed us to the 241-acre Black Creek Nature Sanctuary just outside of historic Calumet. With 1,300 feet of Lake Superior shoreline, Black Creek Nature Sanctuary boasts forested sand dunes, a lagoon, two creeks that empty into Lake Superior, and a beaver dam.  There is also evidence of stamp sand, a barren, and leftover of copper mining in the Keweenaw. Black Creek is home to wolf, moose, black bear, beaver, and of course, the dreaded black fly. While we would have enjoyed spotting any of the aforementioned mammals, we were happy to visit after black fly season!  We are told that this sanctuary is also a perfect place to enjoy winter with snowshoeing and skiing along the softly rolling terrain.

Once again, our expected 20-25 hikers grew to more than 40 as car after car pulled up alongside the road. Our host stewards, Jill and Peter Pietila, had invited friends and neighbors to join us on this easy and well-marked hike, which promised to be a wistful ending to a perfect summer Odyssey. Special guests were Jim and Joy Ziemnick (Jim was the first steward at Black Creek and started the sanctuary on its way to becoming a “Showcase Sanctuary” with his dedicated stewardship) and Bill and Nancy Leonard, who are stewardship coordinators for the Keweenaw Peninsula. After an enjoyable hike through the forested dunes and along the lagoon, our hikers lingered along the beautiful shore of Lake Superior. No one was in a hurry to leave this special place.  Peter even brought his fishing pole and told us of his many fishing adventures here.

Group at Black Creek

We did it! Number 20! Photo by Marianne Glosenger

This is a fitting time to thank every Odyssey steward who is devoted to the cause of protecting one or more of our magnificent sanctuaries. Without them, there would be no “Showcase Sanctuaries”. Thanks to our Regional Stewardship Organizers, Matt, Katherine, and Adrienne, who so strongly supported the adventure, to Dick and Marianne Glosenger who devoted their summer to the Odyssey going on 19 of our 20 hikes and taking amazing photos along the way for all to enjoy. Thank you to Aubrey Golden, MNA Trustee and President of the Michigan Karst Conservancy, who added so much to the 13 hikes he participated in.

Also recognition and thanks to our office coordinator Johanna Swanson who prepared all our materials and kept us well supplied all summer, and to Allison Barszcz who worked behind the scenes to make the blog possible. But most of all thank you to each and every participant from MNA’s Executive Director Garret Johnson, President Steve Kelley, and to all of you who came out to hike with us. Thanks also to those of you who took out MNA memberships or made a pledge to MNA in support of the Odyssey. It has been a once-in-a-lifetime adventure!  Thank you, one and all, from Dave “Turtle Man” Wendling and Tina “Super Bee” Patterson. See you on the trail!

PS: As we look back just one week from our last hike we truly recognize how lucky we were–from perfect t-shirt hiking weather, it is now getting cold and blustery along the Lake Superior shore line with snow, sleet, and freezing rain. How fortunate we were to share the beauty of a fall day just before winter arrived!

PPS: If you weren’t able to join us, you can still experience the excitement of the Odyssey! Visit MNA’s YouTube page for videos from several of our Odyssey Tours.

MNA Award Recognizes Excellence in Conservation Science

Dr. Reznicek with MNA Executive Director Garret Johnson

Dr. Reznicek with MNA Executive Director Garret Johnson

The Edward G. Voss Conservation Science Award recognizes those individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the scientific understanding of Michigan’s biological diversity and its conservation. Dr. Edward G. Voss was an internationally renowned scientist, dedicated educator, and committed conservationist who spent his lifetime working to protect Michigan’s natural heritage.

At this year’s Volunteer and Donor Recognition Dinner, MNA was pleased to recognize both Dr. Ed Voss and Dr. Tony Reznicek for their outstanding contributions:

Edward G. Voss

After a lifetime of contributions to science and conservation, long-time MNA supporter and celebrated botanist Dr. Edward G. Voss passed away earlier this year. One of his crowning achievements was his groundbreaking three-volume Michigan Flora. The first volume was published in 1972, and when the third and last volume was issued in 1996 Dr. Voss expressed his hope that he and his long-time colleague (and fellow MNA member) Dr. Anton Reznicek would complete an updated, compact one-volume version. Poignantly, the revised version he envisioned, the new Field Manual of Michigan Flora, was released three days after Dr. Voss’s death.

Dr. Voss was professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Michigan and curator emeritus of vascular plants at the University Herbarium. His primary area of expertise was the vascular plants of the Great Lakes region, including their taxonomy, identification, distribution, history and current status. He was the founding editor of The Michigan Botanist and an internationally recognized expert in botanical nomenclature. He taught at the University of Michigan Biological Station for 35 summer sessions and in addition to his work with MNA, Dr. Voss was an active member of the Sierra Club, The Nature Conservancy, the Little Traverse Conservancy, and the Wilderness Society.

Anton Reznicek

Dr. Anton (Tony) Reznicek is a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Michigan and curator of vascular plants at the University of Michigan Herbarium. Dr. Reznicek is an internationally recognized expert on the genus Carex (commonly known as sedges). In 2006, a species of sedge new to science was discovered in New York’s Hudson Highlands area and named Carex reznicekii (Reznicek’s Sedge) in his honor.

Dr. Reznicek’s numerous contributions to conservation and botanical education make him a respected authority on endangered species and plant ecological issues. After MNA protected the only known population of lakeside daisy existing in Michigan, Dr. Reznicek was instrumental in helping MNA establish a second viable population by studying seeds, providing advice and assisting with germination. He has served on the Michigan technical advisory committee on threatened and endangered species, the board of trustees for the Michigan chapter of The Nature Conservancy, and in various capacities with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the state Forest Service and the National Forest Service. With Dr. Voss, he co-authored the Field Manual of Michigan Flora, published earlier this year, and helped establish a Michigan Flora website hosted by the University of Michigan Herbarium where researchers, field biologists and conservationists can exchange up-to-date information about the identification and status of Michigan species.

At the Recognition Dinner, Dr. Reznicek delighted the crowd with stories of his late colleague, Dr. Voss, and shared more information about the Michigan Flora website and field manual. We were thrilled that Dr. Reznicek was able to join us as we celebrated his achievements and the achievements of Dr. Voss.

For information about the other individuals who were honored at the Volunteer and Donor Recognition Dinner on October 26, see MNA’s previous blog post.