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.


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.

MNA Partners with Jeffers High School

By Allie Jarrell

Nine years ago, students from Jeffers High School began working with MNA to restore and maintain the Robert T. Brown Nature Sanctuary. What began as an ideal spot for field trips has since evolved into numerous community service projects and hands-on learning opportunities for students.

For decades, MTU biology and forestry professors have been using the site, originally called the Lake Perrault Bog, as an opportunity for students to learn about Michigan flora and fauna outside of the classroom. A professor named Robert T. Brown was especially fond of the area and often took his students there. MNA purchased the bog in 2002, and after Robert’s passing in August of that same year, it was renamed the Robert T. Brown Nature Sanctuary. In 2003, MNA arranged a partnership with Jeffers High School so that students could continue to learn in a unique, outdoor classroom.

Photo: MNA

During their time in the sanctuary, the young volunteers constructed two boardwalks with viewing platforms, which continue to protect rare flora, such as orchids and some carnivorous plants, from being trampled. Visitors can now enjoy a worry-free stroll from the coniferous forests into the bog area of the sanctuary.  In order to carry on with their efforts, Jeffers High School has proposed a grant to receive additional funding so that the sanctuary can be incorporated into the school’s curriculum. This would enable students to continue learning about the needs of the local community while also taking ownership in protecting their home in the Lake Superior watershed.

The MNA partnership with Jeffers High School was recently renewed in order to benefit the students’ learning opportunities as well as the maintenance of the sanctuary. The Jeffers students’ efforts have been appreciated and recognized by MNA and the Michigan DNR for “creating and maintaining these important recreational areas” and “making Lake Perrault a true recreational destination for everyone.”