Recently, MNA conservation stewardship staff began a multi-year prairie and forest restoration initiative at Tiffin River Nature Sanctuary in Lenawee County, which is funded by the Conservation Reserve Program through the Natural Resources Conservation Service, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This project seeks to restore native cover on 36 acres of farmland at the sanctuary – helping to return the property to productive habitat for wildlife in the area. The project begins with planting 3500 bare root trees and approximately 150 pounds of native seed and 500 pounds of cover crop over the 36 acres, which will take several years to become well established.
Active management beginning this year will include targeted and invasive species management, as well as mowing to deter weedy competition and rodent damage to trees and shrubs. In a few years, prescribed burning will be included on portions of the restoration area.
This sanctuary lies within the Bean Creek watershed – an approximately 200 square mile area in southern Michigan. The Bean Creek flows into Ohio, where it becomes the Tiffin River, which then flows into the Maumee River and eventually into Lake Erie. Within the Bean Creek watershed, residents have observed diverse freshwater mussels, the shells of which provide habitat for aquatic insects and crayfish.
Conservation Director Andrew Bacon explains that the restoration project will help enhance the quality of the Bean Creek corridor for wildlife as it restores natural vegetation on farm fields immediately adjacent to the Bean Creek. Additionally, the restored riparian fields will assist with decreasing sediment erosion and the runoff of nutrients and pesticides into the creek. “These are targeted conservation practices for the Maumee River Watershed to help improve water quality and decrease nutrient loading in the river and in western Lake Erie near Toledo.”