Upcoming Fall Tour through Newaygo Prairie Nature Sanctuary

The prairie. Photo courtesy of Chuck Vannette

The prairie. Photo by Chuck Vannette

By Sally Zimmerman, MNA Intern

Visitors are invited to explore the Newaygo Prairie Nature Sanctuary and observe the beautiful fall colors in full swing on Saturday, October 19. Steward Chuck Vannette will be leading a fall tour through the prairie, starting at 2 p.m. This will be a day filled with scenic views and the serenity of the open prairie at Newaygo Prairie Nature Sanctuary. The sanctuary is located in Newaygo County and sits at the intersection of S. Poplar Ave. and E. 56th Street.

Newaygo Prairie Nature Sanctuary protects one of the most endangered habitats in the state. Its sandy soils and raised hillsides prevented farmers from converting the prairie into farmland during the 19th and 20th centuries. Since the Michigan Nature Association purchased the prairie in 1969, it has worked on preserving this 110-acre spread, which is composed of prairie vegetation, dry prairie habitat and oak pine barren. Guests will get to experience what remains of the dry-sand prairie that once covered 19,000 acres in Michigan.

The sanctuary contains no trails, giving visitors the unique opportunity to navigate and explore the open landscape of the area and get up-close looks at the sanctuary’s abundant prairie species that survive in the habitat. More than 100 plant species, including porcupine’s grass, Fall Witch grass, prickly-pear cactus, and rock spikemoss contribute to the beauty of Newaygo Prairie.

Goldenrod in full bloom. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Goldenrod in full bloom. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

There is no one best time to visit Newaygo Prairie because its vast plant variety provides blooming vegetation throughout the year. During this fall tour on October 19, guests will witness the beautiful colors of sunflowers, goldenrods and asters blooming in the sanctuary. Several bird species, such as bluebirds and prairie warblers, also reside in the sanctuary, relying on the open prairie to gather food and build their nests. Other birds live near the wooded areas of the sanctuary, finding a comfortable home in the shade. Newaygo Prairie Nature Sanctuary provides great opportunities for visitors throughout the year.

Take advantage of the chance to see this beautiful prairie exhibiting all of its fall colors on the fall tour on October 19. For more information about this field trip, see MNA’s online events calendar or contact Matt Schultz at mschultz@michigannature.org.

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Celebrate Michigan Trails Week with MNA

By Sally Zimmerman, MNA Intern

Michigan Trails Week gives people the opportunity to explore Michigan’s natural beauty on motorized, non-motorized and water trails throughout the state. Michigan Trails Week is September 21-28 and celebrates different events and volunteer opportunities in communities all over Michigan.

Governor Rick Snyder made this week an official event in 2012. Over fifty organizations participated, hosting volunteer opportunities, events and activities on Michigan’s trails. The Michigan Nature Association will host multiple activities during the week, including an opportunity to volunteer and hikes through scenic sanctuaries.

boardwalk

The Red Cedar River Plant Preserve boardwalk. Photo from MNA archives.

On September 26, MNA is holding a volunteer day that includes conducting renovations on the boardwalk at the Red Cedar River Plant Preserve near Williamston. Improvements to the boardwalk will provide visitors with year-round accessibility to the floodplain. Volunteers can enjoy the scenery of this floodplain while they work, as the area is home to species such as marsh marigold, blue beech and blue flag iris. The renovations go from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

MNA is also hosting two field trips to sanctuaries in the Upper Peninsula during Michigan Trails Week.

On September 28, guests can enjoy the beauty of Lake Perrault while also learning about mosses, epiphytes and liverworts in the fragile Robert T. Brown Nature Sanctuary in Houghton County, near Painesdale. The trip begins at 11 a.m. and is led by Janice Glime, researcher and retired professor. To RSVP for this trip, send an email to nancy@einerlei.com.

The Olson Falls. Photo by Mike Zajczenko

The Olson Falls. Photo by Mike Zajczenko.

MNA and the Falling Rock Café will also host a hike through Twin Waterfalls Memorial Nature Sanctuary on September 28* near Munising. Hikers will get the chance to see astounding views of the sanctuary’s natural waterfalls and sandstone cliffs. The hike begins at 10 a.m.

*[Ed. note: the Twin Waterfalls hike has been cancelled due to road construction. Keep an eye on the MNA event calendar for updates.]

For more information on the volunteer opportunity at the Red Cedar River Plant Preserve and the trips to Robert T. Brown Nature Sanctuary and Twin Waterfalls Memorial Nature Sanctuary during Michigan Trails Week, visit the MNA website’s event calendar.

June 1: An Enjoyable Evening at Redwyn’s Dunes

By Nancy Leonard

The group at Redwyn's Dunes

The group hikes through Redwyn’s Dunes. Photo by Nancy Leonard

On this calm and not-too-cool Friday evening, 18 people (including two children) gathered at the trailhead of Redwyn’s Dunes in the Keweenaw for a walk led by Dr. Amy Schrank, an aquatic ecologist from nearby Michigan Technological University. During the first part of the outing, the group did an introductory hike on the trail that leads up over the wooded dunes and past three ponds.  Blooming Pink Lady’s Slipper were admired along the way and Eastern Grey Tree Frogs were heard singing loudly.

The group then strolled along the sand and cobble beach collecting expired butterflies and trying to identify species.  We settled into a sun-warmed beach stone ridge as Amy talked about the ecology and biology of amphibians and answered the many questions that were asked. Continue reading