Recognizing Outstanding Volunteers in 2017


Cover photo

2017 Volunteer & Donor Recognition Dinner

Thank you for joining MNA as we recognized the donors and volunteers who make our
continued success possible! The 2017 Volunteer & Donor Recognition Dinner
honored those who dedicate countless hours to MNA and reflected on another year of success.

The night was filled with entertainment, including a special silent auction to benefit
MNA’s Environmental Education Fund and a live performance by Lansing’s soul-blues master, Root Doctor!


Award Recipients

During the ceremony, MNA honored the following individuals for their
commitment to protecting Michigan’s natural heritage:

Richard W. Holzman Award:
Margaret Welsch

Frederick W. Case, Jr. Environmental Educator of the Year Award:
Deb Iwema

Mason and Melvin Schafer Distinguished Service Award:
Bill Atkinson

Volunteer of the Year Award:
Dan Burton
Brett Harris
Bill Houston
Phil Quenzi

Good Neighbor Award:
Valerie and John Vance
Clay DeGayner

Also a special congratulations to our 2017 Photo Contest winners,
Race for Michigan Nature 5K runners, and Eagle Scouts!

Like, share, and tag yourself in the photos from the dinner on our Facebook page!

We appreciate all you do for MNA’s mission and we hope to see you again next year!

DNR to celebrate 40 years of Endangered Species Act with week of events

Photo courtesy of the DNR.

Photo courtesy of the DNR.

By Kary Askew Garcia, MNA Intern

The state of Michigan has hit a major milestone and the Department of Natural Resources, or DNR, has decided to honor it in an extraordinary way: by hosting a week in honor of the Endangered Species Act, or ESA, from Aug. 4-10.

The ESA was signed into law on July 11, 1974 and came into effect on Sept. 1 of that year. The DNR invites Michiganders to join them at the nearest state park for an insightful lecture on what the ESA is and what it means for an animal to be classified as endangered or threatened.

Click here to find the schedule of events.

According to the DNR, one success that the ESA is the recovery of the rare Kirtland’s warbler. This bird has garnered attention from far and wide. In a release from the DNR, Specialist Dan Kenneday said “Michigan’s ESA has been pivotal in the recovery of the Kirtland’s warbler.”

A Kirtland's warbler in an MNA sanctuary. Photo by Cindy Mead.

A Kirtland’s warbler in an MNA sanctuary. Photo by Cindy Mead.

The ESA plays a large role in maintaining balance in Michigan’s wondrous natural habitats and ecosystems. Without laws protecting animals, habitat decline, pollution and other issues will continue to cause harm to animals and their homes throughout the state, which may compromise the health of Michigan’s invaluable natural scenery.

When a species is classified as endangered, it means that it is in danger of becoming extinct. There are also many other species listed as threatened and may be on the verge of being listed as endangered. The ESA is one step in finding methods to solve the problem of extinction and has already found success in the restoration of the Kirtland’s warbler.

MNA supports the efforts of the ESA and the DNR and congratulates them on the 40th anniversary of the act. Don’t miss a chance to celebrate the ESA! For more information about the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, click here.


MNA’s Fall Adventure to Explore the Irish Hills

By Allison Raeck, MNA Intern

Tens of thousands of years ago, glacial debris formed rolling gravel hills and out wash plains across southern Michigan. Today, these landforms are still present, drawing tourists to see what is now known as Michigan’s Irish Hills. The area will be featured on MNA’s 2013 Fall Adventure, a weekend-long trip exploring sanctuaries in southeast Michigan. The Irish Hills include a combination of unique history, picturesque landscapes and over 50 lakes that have entertained and amused guests for centuries.


The Old Sauk Trail.

Located roughly in southeastern Jackson County and northwest Lenawee County, the Irish Hills land was settled by Irish immigrants from 1830 to 1850 and eventually became a popular stopping point for travelers along Old Sauk Trail. The trail itself has a very interesting background, as paleontologists have found evidence suggesting that it was a game trail running along the southern edge of forest line. The road had once been used by Native Americans and was later converted into a stagecoach road between Detroit and Chicago. The Irish Hills became a popular stopping point for travelers along this five-day journey, making it one of the state’s first tourist attractions in the 1920s.


Historic Walker Tavern.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Along the Old Sauk Trail sits Walker Tavern, a historic site that was once a small restaurant for passing travelers. The tavern is one of twelve sites in the State of Michigan Historic Museum system, and it is open for touring. Though never proven true, it is believed that early American statesman Daniel Webster once stayed in the tavern. On MNA’s Fall Adventure, participants will be able to visit Walker Tavern.

In addition to its unique history, the natural geology of the Irish Hills keeps visitors coming back year after year. The Irish Hills area is the highest elevated area in southern Michigan, with its rolling hills still showing evidence of early glacial activity. The hills are vibrant green in the summer and display shades of red, orange and yellow in the fall, providing visitors with great photo opportunities during these seasons. MNA’s Columbia Nature Sanctuary offers a spectacular example of the hills’ colors, which participants will be able to visit during the Fall Adventure. The Irish Hills area also includes some interesting waterways, as many of Michigan’s rivers have their headwaters in this area and eventually flow to both Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.


The beautiful fall colors at Columbia Nature Sanctuary.
Photo courtesy of Jeff Ganley.

In addition to its beautiful geological features, the Irish Hills area includes a variety of habitats, including prairie fen, wet prairie and oak savanna-barrens-woodlands. Because of their rarity and diminishing nature in the Midwest, the area’s prairie habitats are especially important. Many rare plant and animal species can be found in the area’s prairies, offering a significant contribution to Michigan’s special diversity. Sand Creek Prairie Plant Preserve, one of six MNA preserves featured on the Fall Adventure, is home to many scarce and threatened plant species.

For decades, people have continued to visit the Irish Hills for its large lakes, beautiful scenery and unique attractions. Explore this beautiful and historic area by attending MNA’s 2013 Fall Adventure, Sep. 20-22. In addition to exploring the area’s geography and habitats, visitors will get to hear about research conducted at MNA sanctuaries and enjoy food from local eateries. To reserve your spot on the trip, contact Danielle Cooke at (517)-655-5655 or We hope you’ll join us in witnessing the scenic Irish Hills!

Upcoming Wildflower Walkabout tour: Fred Dye Nature Sanctuary

By Allison Raeck, MNA Intern

If you enjoy the smell of summer flowers, wide-open prairie, or a bit of ghost town mystery, be sure to join MNA for a guided tour of Fred Dye Nature Sanctuary in Mackinac County. The tour will be held on Friday, July 12, at 1 p.m. as part of MNA’s 2013 Wildflower Walkabout. The sanctuary, which should be in full bloom this time of year, will feature an interesting bit of history in the midst of a beautiful prairie setting.

Fred Dye Nature Sanctuary displays 36 acres of open prairie, which is slightly out of place amidst the Upper Peninsula’s thick forests. Though the preserve has no trails, the sanctuary’s open expanse allows visitors to navigate with ease. The land’s short grasses allow for the growth of a diverse range of wildflowers, together creating an ideal habitat for birds, insects, and other native creatures.


A purple coneflower at Fred Dye Nature Sanctuary.
Photo courtesy of Aaron Strouse.

Summer flowers native to the area include prairie cinquefoil, toad flax and the sanctuary’s distinguishing feature: the pale purple coneflower. Fred Dye is one of two sanctuaries in Michigan where the purple coneflower is known to grow, and it can be identified by its thin, pink petals, which usually turn downward. Because coneflower taproots must dig deep into soil to obtain water, it has long been questioned how the species arrived in this thin-soiled location. Today, it is generally believed that the plant is a remnant of the past, as its seeds were in the hay fed to logging horses decades ago.

Among its wildflowers, Fred Dye is known for its bird species, many of which can be spotted year-round. Viewers can expect to see many breeding and migratory birds this time of year, as both thrive in this prairie habitat. Particularly, wild spruce grouse can be found in sandy areas of the sanctuary while ruby-throated hummingbirds roam its wildflowers.

Supporting many of its species is the sanctuary’s interesting Karst geology. Soluble bedrock, such as limestone and dolomite, is scattered throughout the area, and these rocks are decorated with algae, moss and lichen. Not only does this topography play a vital role in the sanctuary’s habitat formation, but it also makes it difficult for hardwood forests to develop in this area, contributing to the prairie landscape.


The logging town of Kenneth, MI in 1908.
Photo courtesy of MNA archives.

In addition to the natural features Fred Dye displays today, the sanctuary also shows traces of an interesting past. Many years before Fred Dye’s founding in 1970, the small town of Kenneth once existed at the site of the sanctuary. Though the town thrived from the logging and limestone business in the early twentieth century, it eventually became somewhat of a ghost town, with the foundations of the old general store and saloon still standing within the sanctuary’s boundaries.

To learn more about Fred Dye Nature Sanctuary’s diverse plant and animal species as well as its mysterious past, be sure to come along for MNA’s guided tour on July 12. For more information on this event or other Wildflower Walkabout tours, visit MNA’s website.