Acquisition Expands Big Valley Nature Sanctuary

By Alyssa Kobylarek, MNA intern

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A view of Big Valley Nature Sanctuary. Photo by Owen Perkins

MNA acquired a 22-acre addition to Big Valley Nature Sanctuary in December 2013, expanding the already existing sanctuary to 157 acres. The addition further protects quality wetlands and habitat for rare species.

The addition will add more than four acres of quality wetland, six acres of upland, 12 acres of lake and more than 750 feet of shoreline to the Oakland County sanctuary. The new property includes southern wet meadow, degraded oak barrens and part of a lake. The addition has a savanna remnant which includes 10 to 20 savanna/prairie species.

Portions of the addition were partially cleared for development, but it retains many native species. The lake is home to rare species and the addition of the land to the Big Valley Nature Sanctuary will aid in the protection of the flora and fauna that call the sanctuary home.

Keep an eye on the MNA Calendar of Events for opportunities to explore the sanctuary or volunteer.

A chemical spill, the emerald ash borer, and ice balls: this week in environmental news

Ice balls at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Photo via YouTube.

Every Friday, MNA shares news stories related to conservation from around the state and the world.

Chemical spill fouls water in West Virginia (The New York Times): A chemical spill in Charleston, W.Va. left more than 100,000 people without safe tap water. The spill happened at a storage facility about a mile north of a water treatment plant on the Elk River, where a compound used to clean coal began leaking. Officials do not currently know how much of the chemical spilled into the river.

Extreme cold may wipe out high percentage of emerald ash borer larvae (MPR):  A forestry expert in Minnesota says that the extreme cold temperatures may kill off a significant percentage of emerald ash borer larvae. Studies have shown that 34 percent of larvae die at -10 degrees Fahrenheit, with that number jumping to 79 percent at -20, and 98% at -30. These numbers could vary, depending on whether or not the insects are insulated by the bark of trees or snow.

Watch captivating video of Lake Michigan ice balls at Sleeping Bear Dunes (MLive): The giant ice boulders on the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore were recognized as one of the most amazing earth images of 2013. They have formed once again, and can be seen washing in and out from the Lake Michigan shoreline. Several photographers have captured fascinating images and videos of the beach-ball sized ice formations.

‘Carnivore cleansing’ is damaging ecosystems, scientists warn (The Guardian): According to a new study, more than three-quarters of the 31 species of large land predators, such as wolves and lions, are in decline. Of these species, 17 species are now restricted to less than half the territory they once occupied. An international team of scientists say that the large predators play a vital role in maintaining the delicate balance of ecosystems. The group has called for a global initiative to conserve large predators.

Plastics in your face? There’s an app for that (Great Lakes Echo): Plastic microbeads, which are often found in personal hygiene products, have been polluting the Great Lakes and other waterways. A new app has been designed that allows customers to scan a barcode and see if the product contains microbeads. The app is called “Warning: Plastics Inside!” and can be downloaded for free in the Apple App Store, the Google Play Store, and the Windows Phone Store.