Fall foliage, Great Lakes restoration, and wolves: this week in environmental news

Each week, MNA gathers news related to conservation and the environment from around the state and country. Here is a bit of what happened this week in environmental news:

The 10 best fall foliage trips in the U.S. (Huffington Post): The Huffington Post lists ten places to see America’s awe-inspiring fall beauty. It’s no surprise that Michigan’s Upper Peninsula makes the list.

Good fall color is showing “halfway up the Keweenaw Peninsula” on Sept. 22, 2014. (Courtesy: Mlive commenter jeltez42)

Michigan fall colors: Trees are changing fast with one part of Michigan near peak fall color (MLive): Speaking of fall foliage, MLive reports that parts of the western Upper Peninsula may be reaching peak fall color in just a few days. The U.P is expected to peak next week, and the northern Lower Peninsula should peak during the second week of October. Southern Michigan should peak during mid-October.This year’s fall color seems to be pacing about a week ahead of normal.

EPA unveils second phase of plan to reverse Great Lakes damage (The New York Times): On Wednesday, the federal government revealed a plan for efforts to restore the Great Lakes. The plan includes cleaning up 10 contaminated rivers and harbors and an increased course of attack on poisonous algae blooms. The program will also include an attempt to buffer the lakes against the effects of climate change.

Heirs to Rockefeller fortune divest from fossil fuels over climate change (The Guardian): This week, the heirs to the Rockefeller oil fortune withdrew their funds from fossil fuel investments. Rockefellers included, more than 800 global investors have pledged to withdraw a total of $50 billion from fossil fuel investments over the next five years. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund controls approximately $860 million in assets, 7% of which are invested in fossil fuels.

Want to hunt Michigan wolves? You’ll have to wait until at least 2015 (Detroit Free Press): The Natural Resources Commission will not schedule a hunt of gray wolves in the Upper Peninsula for 2014. There are two proposals concerning wolf hunts on the November ballot, and the NRC says that the vote is happening too late in the year for the organization to have the authority to schedule a hunt in 2014.

 

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Mock oil spill, heat records, and old-growth forest: this week in environmental news

Each week, MNA gathers news stories related to conservation and the environment from around Michigan and the globe. Here is a bit of what happened this week in environmental news:

Some of the 200 people taking part in Wednesday’s mock oil spill on the Indian River. Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Mock oil spill tests response plan (Michigan Radio): On Wednesday, federal and state agencies joined with local groups to respond to a mock oil spill in the Indian River in northern Michigan. The groups involved in the drill are the same groups that respond to real oil spills in the Great Lakes. The drill provided an opportunity to practice with a full command center, as well as allow groups to familiarize with one another.

Global heat records set for month and season (The New York Times): This August went on record as the earth’s hottest August, and summer 2014 was the globe’s hottest summer. Meterologists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the average world temperature in August was over 61 degrees Fahrenheit, breaking the record set in 1998. The earth is on pace to move toward breaking the hottest year record set in 2010.

The DNR says its reversal on possible oil drilling at Hartwick Pines State Park is in response to public outcry. Photo: The Center for Michigan/Bridge Magazine

DNR yields to public and will not allow drilling under prized land at Hartwick Pines (MLive): DNR Director Keith Creagh announced last week that the parcel of Hartwick Pines State Park that includes old growth white pines was being pulled from an auction that would have allowed drilling exploration underneath them. Hartwick Pines is the last remaining stand of old growth white pine forest in the Lower Peninsula. The DNR is still considering auctioning off oil and mineral rights under other parts of the park that do not include the old growth forest.

The cost of fixing climate change (Huffington Post): A new study finds that reducing greenhouse gas emissions could boost the economy rather than slow it. The study by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate finds that adoping rules that redirect infrastructure investments toward low-emissions options (including a more efficient use of resources and the building of cities serviced by public transportation) could make economic sense.

Why we’re going on the biggest climate march in history (The Guardian): In this interactive slide show, personalities from across the world talk about why they’re planning to march to call for action on climate change during the UN climate summit in New York on Sunday.

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Ten MNA sanctuaries to visit this fall

By Kary Askew Garcia, MNA Intern

As the season changes, so do the leaves. Well, at least in Michigan! Fall is one of the most beautiful seasons to experience in Michigan as fall colors surround beautiful landscapes. MNA’s nature sanctuaries are home to a variety of habitats offering breathtaking colors perfect for a fall hike. We had a hard time narrowing the list down, but here are a few sanctuaries to check out if you’d like to experience Michigan this fall.

For a complete list of upcoming guided fall hikes, download the Fall 2014 edition of Discover Michigan Nature or check out the online calendar of events. Click here to access a map of MNA’s nature sanctuaries in Michigan.

Ten MNA Nature Sanctuaries to Visit this Fall:

1. Timberland Swamp Nature Sanctuary in Oakland County

Autumn hardwoods

Photo by Mark Carlson.

This 245-acre sanctuary offers guests the chance to explore the wonders of the woods. This sanctuary contains hardwood swamp and second hardwood growth. Visitors are welcome to explore on a 2-mile loop trail, but be sure to pack proper footwear as the sanctuary can be wet and swampy (as the name implies).

2. Newaygo Prairie Nature Sanctuary in Newaygo County

DSC02175

Photo by Matt Schultz.

 

This 210-acre sanctuary is made up of oak and pine barrens. Despite having no trails, the terrain makes it easy for visitors to explore. In this sanctuary, the fall is prime time for the blooming of sunflowers, goldenrod and asters.

3. Wilcox-Warnes Nature Sanctuary in Macomb County

IMG_2654

Photo by Jeff Ganley.

 

Visitors can take a hike on a mile-long loop through this sanctuary. The 44-acre sanctuary is home to an array of different plant species including tulip trees and round-leaved orchids and parts both mature and mesic forest.

4. Estivant Pines Nature Sanctuary in Keweenaw County

Photo by Marianne Glosenger

This 510-acre sanctuary offers two loop trails, each about a mile long, that intersect offering a 2.5-mile challenge for visitors’ hiking pleasure. The giant white pines have an awe-inspiring height of up to 125 feet, which surround guests with beautiful color as they make their way through the trails. There are also many bird species to watch out for at Estivant Pines.

5. Mystery Valley Karst Preserve and Nature Sanctuary  in Presque Isle County

Photo by Katherine Hollins

Photo by Katherine Hollins

Mystery Valley is home to one of the largest karst “collapse valleys” in the Great Lakes region. On the 1-mile Earthcrack Trail, visitors can explore the incredible earth cracks and valley formed by the erosion of limestone beneath the earth’s surface. The half-mile Valley Trail passes fossils of marine life embedded in the rock. In addition to the sanctuary’s interesting geology, the slightly acidic soil supports a northern-mesic forest, dominated by sugar maple, beech and hemlock trees. In the fall, the trees change and beautifully highlight the landscape.

6. Dowagiac Woods Nature Sanctuary in Cass County

Autumn in the woods

Photo by Sherri Laier.

This sanctuary offers a 1.5-mile loop as well as boardwalks over naturally wet areas and some benches to take a rest. Even if visitors are just sitting for a moment, they still have a great opportunity to take in the sights and sounds of the nature around them in this “crown jewel” nature sanctuary. The sanctuary is a mixture of floodpain, southern mesic forest and hardwood swamp, a home for several different bird and reptile species. The Dowagiac River also flows through this sanctuary.

7. Columbia Nature Sanctuary in Jackson County

IMG_2568

Photo by Jeff Ganley.

A beautiful array of colors can be seen in this 40-acre sanctuary consisting of southern hardwood swamp, emergent marsh and southern hardwood forest. It is in this sanctuary where over 150 plant species can be found. Some notable plants are Michigan holly, several types of bedstraws and sedges.

8. Twin Waterfalls Plant Preserve in Alger County

Photo by Mike Zajczenko

Twin Waterfalls boasts great beauty in its falls themselves, as well as unique plants. Some plants found in this sanctuary are twisted stalk and American milletgrass. The milletgrass is known for being 5 feet in height and a foot-long panicle. The Munising Formation is also an interesting sight — a large sandstone wall made of a variety of colors.

9. Phillips Family Memorial Nature Sanctuary in Van Buren County

IMG_0614

Photo by Nancy Goodrich.

This sanctuary is unique because of its coastal marsh habitat. Along with coastal marsh, it is also composed of southern mesic forest. Some trees to look out for are hardwoods, red maple, pin oak and black cherry.

 10. Dauner Martin Nature Sanctuary in Genesee County

Photo via MNA archives.

Photo via MNA archives.

This nature sanctuary is an interweb of pine groves and hardwood forests. Visitors can choose between several different trails to discover the variety of trees in the sanctuary. Some trees to look out for are oak, elm and ash.

 

We want to explore Michigan with you! Download the Fall 2014 edition of Discover Michigan Nature or check out the online calendar of events and join us in the field!