Feeling lonely in a crowd: MNA’s second most visited sanctuary needs some love

By Katherine Hollins, Regional Stewardship Organizer

The Mighty Ash

The Mighty Ash

The Dauner Martin Nature Sanctuary is MNA’s second most visited sanctuary. Situated within the Fenton city limits, it’s surrounded by people and development. Almost 5 miles of trails crisscross the 155 acre property. Several Eagle Scout projects have been completed here, helping provide easier access over wet areas.

Lots of folks from near and far like to visit the sanctuary to enjoy the peaceful pine plantations, bird watch, walk their dogs (yes! this is one of a very few MNA sanctuaries that allow leashed dogs), study the wildflowers, or take in the sad beauty of our mighty open-grown ash tree that succumbed to the emerald ash borer and is slowly returning back to the earth. Dauner Martin is an oasis in an asphalt desert, and people love it!

Birdwatchers look toward the canopy

Birdwatchers look toward the canopy

Unfortunately Dauner Martin receives a bit of abuse as well. Trash walks in and doesn’t walk back out, unleashed dogs threaten ground-nesting birds and frighten unsuspecting hikers, nighttime revelers decide it’s a good place to start a fire (at least one of which escaped, burning a portion of the sanctuary), and the benches, meant to create a space for rest and contemplation, spontaneously disappear. About this time last year, someone decided to test out their hatchet skills and felled on one of our young trees for no reason.

In an effort to engage the community around Dauner Martin and to build a stronger, more positive presence at the sanctuary, MNA is forming a Friends of Dauner Martin group, and is seeking volunteer Ambassadors to serve as links to the community and to help on special projects.

If you enjoy walking the trails, assisting with management, or talking with others about the sanctuary, you can attend a kick-off meeting on Wednesday October 2nd from 6-8pm at the Fenton Community Center. There, you can learn more about the sanctuary, get some training, and sign up for particular Ambassador positions. Please pass the word on to anyone that you think might be interested.

Ambassadors are needed to walk the trails and report issues they see, communicate the rules of the sanctuary to visitors, help with management tasks such as invasive species removal, recruit additional volunteers, and answer questions from visitors. All levels of commitment are welcome.

If you can’t make the meeting but would like to learn more, contact Katherine Hollins by email at khollins@michigannature.org or by phone at 517-525-2627.

A hearty group of volunteers pause for a photo during a work day

A hearty group of volunteers pause for a photo during a work day

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