Monday, June 29, 2009

Lakewalker Halfway Around Michigan

Loreen Niewenhuis
halfway there (photo from the LakeWalk blog)
received from Loreen Niewenhuis

On June 16, I marked the halfway point of my trek around Lake Michigan within sight of the Mackinac Bridge. From there I could look across the Straits of Mackinac and see the beginning of the second half of the trek stretching out before me in the Upper Peninsula. It feels amazing to have come so far and to have seen so much of the lakeshore.

In July, I will complete Segments 7 & 8. Segment 7 begins in St. Ignace in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and ends in Escanaba. This segment is approximately 165 miles long and will take 11 days.

I will take a day or two off in Escanaba, then continue on Segment 8 down the west side of Green Bay to the city of Green Bay, Wisconsin. I will take a day off in Green Bay before heading overland across the Door Peninsula to the city of Manitowoc, Wisconsin. This segment is approximately 150 miles long.

In August I will complete Segment 9 from Manitowoc to Milwaukee. Then, in September I will finish the trek by walking from Milwaukee to Chicago (Segment 10).

Check out the blog for photos of the trek so far and for future reports on these upcoming segments.

Thanks for following my adventure. I'm having the time of my life!

-Loreen Niewenhuis.

See Lake Trek blog
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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Michigan Shoreline Plagued by Green Scum

from several sources

Visitors in the past few weeks to the Lake Michigan shore from Holland to Ludington have been complaining about green scum. It is unsightly, and many people wonder if there is a health concern.

In some places the discolored area extends as far as 15 feet out from the shore.

The slime has been identified by the Grand Valley State University's Annis Water Resources Institute as a blend of decomposing algae and other plants. The material was all natural and organic. "It is not very healthy looking water, but I don't think there are any health concerns," Alan Steinman of the Institute said.

It does not appear to contain Algae cladophora, a host for the E. coli bacteria

Farther north, near Ludington, a green layer of plant pollen has collected along the shoreline. Although it looks odd there is no danger unless one is especially sensitive to pollen, since there is probably quite a bit that is still airborne.

The hot, humid and sunny weather, and calm wind conditions have all contributed to the collection of the materials at the shoreline.

See the Muskegon Chronicle, "Hot weather brings harmless but ugly 'scum' to Lake Michigan shoreline"
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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Deed Restrictions May Block Bike Trail

from information on Top of Michigan Trails Council

The Boyne City to Charlevoix bike trail is still just a dream, and another measure of uncertainty has just been introduced. Deed restrictions on highway rights-of-way purchases from the 1950s may exclude uses other than vehicular traffic.

Although the concept for the trail exists, through Young State Park and Horton Bay to the Little Traverse Wheelway. Charlevoix County is prepared to own and maintain the trail.

The ultimate plan is to connect Charlevoix with Elk Rapids and then to the TART trail near Williamsburg.

Grants for phase one have been applied for. Yet, a snag has been found in the old deeds. The Charlevoix County Road Commission was contacted by Bay Township residents who realized that their deeds said that the right of way may be used for "highway purposes" only.

The language appears in at least six parcels of property which the trail would need to cross. It is not known how many other deeds contain this clause.

The question, manager Pat Harmon said, may be: Does a bicycle path qualify as a "highway use."

See Boyne City - Charlevoix Trail
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Friday, June 26, 2009

National Forests To Begin Enforcing "Closed Unless Posted Open"

sample of forest road map
a sample of the new official road map in the Manistee National Forest
from the National Forest Service

As of January 2009 the National Forests' Travel Management Directive has become effective. This means:
  • The rule requires each national forest or ranger district to designate those roads, trails, and areas open to motor vehicles.
  • Designation will include class of vehicle and, if appropriate, time of year for motor vehicle use. A given route, for example, could be designated for use by motorcycles, ATVs, or street-legal vehicles.
  • Once designation is complete, the rule will prohibit motor vehicle use off the designated system or inconsistent with the designations.
  • Designation decisions will be made locally, with public input and in coordination with state, local, and tribal governments.
  • Designations will be shown on a motor vehicle use map. Use inconsistent with the designations will be prohibited.

For non-motorized forest users this is the long anticipated tightening of the "closed unless posted open" rule. Over the years many forests, including the Huron-Manistee in Michigan's lower peninsula, have become threaded with many, many tracks made by vehicles. However, most people are unaware that a great many of those are not legal roadways.

Les Russell, a Ranger on the Baldwin District, said that users should not see this as a closure. Over 99% of the forest is within 1/2 mile of a legal road.

A pdf version of the official road map is available on line, or may be obtained for free at a ranger station.

Although some tickets have been issued, 2009 will mostly be a year of educating the public, and full enforcement will begin in 2010.

See Huron-Manistee NF Maps
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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Kayaker Rescued with Use of Cell Phone

Click the picture to see video

based on several news articles

A 61-year-old Saginaw man set off for a day of kayaking on the Red Cedar River near Lansing's MSU campus. After only a short paddle his kayak overturned. The man drifted a considerable distance and then became entangled in some branches.

However, he had packed his cell phone in a plastic bag and was able to call 911. Although he did not know the river well, he was eventually able to give rescuers enough information that they located him. Lansing firefighters, using ropes and motorized rescue boats, pulled the man from the water.

Boating accidents and deaths have both increased in Michigan in recent years.

The man declined to be identified to news media due to embarrassment over the incident. He had planned to kayak from the Michigan State Campus to Grand Rapids. Thanks to his preparation and protection of his phone, he may have the chance to try his adventure another day.

See the Lansing State Journal, "Kayaking incident on Red Cedar River offers lesson in water safety," by Kevin Grasha and Brittany Smith, June 23, 2009
See the WILX News, "River Rescue Successful"
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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Volunteers Needed for Karner Blue Survey

Karner Blue Butterfly
Karner Blue Butterfly (photo from the US Forest Service)
from the Manistee National Forest

The Baldwin/White Cloud Ranger District is getting ready to begin its 2009 Karner blue butterfly survey effort! Every year, the Manistee National Forest monitors the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly to determine how far populations are from meeting recovery goals, and to evaluate the effectiveness of different management strategies for restoring Karner blue butterfly habitat.

Between 2006 and 2008, the number of acres the Manistee National Forest monitored for the Karner blue butterfly increased dramatically (298 acres in 2006, 843 acres in 2007, 812 acres in 2008) due to volunteer participation in the 2007 and 2008 survey effort. Volunteer participation in 2007 and 2008 was incredible! Individuals from numerous private and public partner organizations provided 281 volunteer days (~$37,000 in contributed volunteer time).

To those who supported our 2007 and 2008 survey effort, thank you for being so generous with your time! With your support, the Manistee National Forest not only met, but surpassed its monitoring goals. Those participating in the 2007 and 2008 survey effort made an invaluable contribution to conserving the Karner blue butterfly by helping us dramatically improve our understanding of the Karner blue butterfly’s status within the Manistee National Forest, and how to restore suitable Karner blue butterfly habitat. Without good information, our efforts to recover the Karner blue butterfly will fail!

There is still much to learn if we are to prevent this species from disappearing from our local landscape. Volunteers are needed to help conduct Karner blue butterfly surveys between July 6th and July 31st. There are opportunities for individuals of all skill levels to participate. Interested parties can volunteer during weekdays, for a few days, or a week or more. Reimbursement for mileage and housing may be available.

Volunteer assistance is vital to meeting our recovery goals! Please choose to volunteer this year and help conserve a locally endangered species!

Contact Heather Keough for more information
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ike's Summerfest June 27 - Kent County

kid exploring
from the Izaak Walton League Dwight Lydell Chapter

Have you circled June 27th on your calendar? From 10:00 - 3:00 we’ll be having our Summerfest, with all sorts of fun and helpful information on natural landscaping. There’ll be archery, a scavenger hunt, bird house building, fishing, plus booths on native plants, gardening, invasives control, rain gardens, rain barrels, ponds, and of course, something to eat! Please tell your friends, and plan on attending or participating.

Ada Parks, WMEAC, the Land Conservancy, and The Wild Ones are committed to doing demonstrations.

Call Maurie Houseman at: 616-560-2895 for more information.
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Monday, June 22, 2009

BOW - Kayak Workshop July 11,12 in Petoskey

kayaker (photo by JHY)
a news release of Michigan DNR

The Department of Natural Resources' Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) program will hold a "Beyond BOW" event July 11-12 to teach women ages 18 and older how to kayak. Bahnhof Sport in Petoskey will co-host the event, which includes a six-hour Introduction to Kayaking course.

The course will be split between the two days, and registration is limited to 16 participants. Instruction will take place in a private setting with female instructors.

"This workshop is geared toward women who have both never kayaked, and want to learn, to those who have some limited experience with the sport," said DNR BOW Coordinator Sue Tabor. "Our goal is for everyone to have a fun time learning new skills with knowledgeable and friendly instructors in a beautiful up-north setting."

The registration fee is $250, which includes all instruction and lodging, two breakfasts, two lunches, a special T-shirt and an optional trip to the Oden State Fish Hatchery or three hours of bike rental. Participants should bring raingear, long pants, a long- and short-sleeved shirt, a jacket, hat, bug spray and sunscreen.

Topics covered during the workshop include kayaking gear and safety, how to plan and prepare for a kayaking trip, your responsibility as a paddler, boat balance and trim, loading and launching your kayak, use of safety gear, paddle selection and use, boat maneuvers, controlled capsizes and rescue techniques.

Check-in for the workshop begins at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, July 11, at Bahnhof Sport, located at 1300 Bay View Rd. in Petoskey. Bagels and juice will be served. Instruction will take place until noon, and lunch will be provided. There will be an optional afternoon trip to the Oden State Fish Hatchery and Michigan Fisheries Visitor Center for a tour, or participants may choose to take a bike ride around Petoskey on a rental bike (provided as part of the registration fee).

Check-in at the Comfort Inn, located at 1314 US-31 North, will start at 4 p.m. Saturday. On Sunday, July 12, a continental breakfast will be served at the hotel at 7 a.m., and at 8:30 a.m., participants will gather at Bahnhof Sport for the second day of instruction. Lunch will again be provided.

See Kayak Workshop
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Great American Backyard Campout - June 27

backyard camping graphic
a news release of National Wildlife Federation

Mark your calendar for the Great American Backyard Campout on Saturday, June 27, 2009. The Great American Backyard Campout provides an opportunity for everyone to relive — or to experience for the first time — how much fun it is to spend a night sleeping under the stars and enjoying the sounds of nature. Held each June, the Great American Backyard Campout is a national event that encourages individuals, youth, friends and families to camp out together for one night.

What: Great American Backyard Campout

The economy may be keeping people closer to home this summer. Instead of packing up and hitting the road, here’s an idea for family fun, no further than your backdoor. The National Wildlife Federation encourages parents and kids alike to trade their website for a campsite and screen time for green time.

Turn off computers, TVs, iPods, Wiis, MP3 players, cell phones and all things high tech, to experience a night with Mother Nature, listen for nocturnal wildlife (maybe even see a few), star-gaze, cook outdoors, tell stories about Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster, and explore a whole other world right in their own backyard.

Last year thousands of people from around the country participated in the Great American Backyard Campout. You don’t need to go to Yosemite National Park to experience the great outdoors and the wonders it has to offer. Just open up your backdoor! June has been officially designated Great Outdoors Month by the White House and more than half of America’s governors and what better way to celebrate.

Where: Backyards across America

When: Saturday night, June 27, 2009

Who: Families, friends, neighbors, and communities

Why: This initiative is part of the National Wildlife Federation’s “Be Out There” campaign that encourages young and old alike to get outside and connect with the natural world. It’s especially important for children because for the first time in our country’s history; we have an entire generation that is growing up disconnected from nature.

This can lead to a weaker immune system, increased childhood obesity, greater dependency on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) drugs, lost creativity, less self-sufficiency, and a lack of interest in maintaining the wildlife legacy they have inherited. To say nothing of the good old fashioned fun they are missing!

Getting Started: The National Wildlife Federation is providing everything you need to head out into the great outdoors called your backyard. Or you can check out to see if a local group is planning a large family Campout near where you live. NWF’s web site has packing lists, recipes, nocturnal wildlife guides, exploration activities, nature guides and more. Check it out at

The Great American Backyard Campout supports Great Outdoors Month (June), celebrating the diverse and valuable recreational opportunities across the nation — especially those linked to America's public lands and waters, which cover more than a third of the nation's surface and attract billions of visitors annually.

Learn more about the Great American Backyard Campout
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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Petoskey East Bay Park Reopens

a picture of the park would be welcome- full credit given
compiled from several sources

East Bay Park in Petoskey has been closed for four years. The site was determined to be contaminated with alkaline waste from a cement kiln which had been previously located on the property. CMS Energy (formerly Consumer's Power), has taken on the responsibility for cleanup of the site.

In a well-attended ceremony today the park was re-opened. Also included was a ribbon cutting for 1.4 miles of the Little Traverse Wheelway (from Bay Harbor to Magnus Park).

Latitude 45 from Petoskey raffled off two bicycles, and the Petoskey High Wheelers demonstrated riding of vintage bikes.

Views of the bay were limited by fog, but everyone seemed in high spirits. CMS Energy assured concerned citizens that it has obligated itself to continue to monitor the park for safe pH levels. A spokesman for CMS thanked the public for being patient, as the cleanup took longer than expected.

See Reflections on the Dedication of the Resort Bluffs Segment of the Little Traverse Wheelway from Tom Stanley's Blog
See Petoskey Celebrates Re-opening of East Bay Park, which includes a video on 9&10 News
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Friday, June 19, 2009

Burnham-Marquette Water Trail

Burnham Marquette Water Trail map
route at the southern tip of Lake Michigan
from various sources

More than two dozen kayaks braved wind, rain, and cold to paddle the big lake from Chicago to Michigan City, Indiana. It seemed more like March than June.

The event was a part of The Burnham Plan Centennial Green Legacy Projects, a group of projects illustrating the Chicago Region’s “green infrastructure” of interconnected greenways, biking and hiking trails, waterways, wetlands, parks, forest preserves and native plant vegetation. It was spearheaded by the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association (NWIPA) and the Illinois Paddling Council (IPC). The 32-hour Burnham to Marquette Water Trail Expedition was one of the events marking the centennial of the 1909 Plan of Chicago -- often called the Burnham Plan -- named for the famous urban planner and architect Daniel Burnham.

Just a month ago the expedition would have been illegal. The Chicago Park District in early June changed rules and formally approved 11 points for water-trail access.

Burnham Marquette Water Trail kayakers
kayakers on the expedition (from the Flikr slide show)

Dan Plath of the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association had a vision of pulling off a bi-state, two-day Burnham to Marquette Water Trail Expedition. The idea was a logistical nightmare, but has turned out to be one of the most publicized, well organized, successful, and eye opening events of the summer. His ultimate dream is a water route that would encircle the entire lake.

See North West Indiana Paddling Association for more information and the complete slide show
See Chicago Tribune story
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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Free Weekends in National Parks

Sleeping Bear dune climb
Sleeping Bear dune climb (photo from the NPS)
a news release of The National Park Service

America’s Best Idea – the national parks – gets even better this summer with three fee-free weekends at more than 100 national parks that usually charge entrance fees.

Mark your calendars for fee-free weekends this summer:
     June 20-21, 2009 (Father’s Day weekend)
     July 18-19, 2009
     August 15-16, 2009

And to make the fun even more affordable, many national park concessioners are joining the National Park Service in welcoming visitors on this summer’s fee free weekends with the their own special offers.

Here’s a tip – many national parks never charge an entrance fee, so you can plan inexpensive visits year round!

For a list of family fun activities this summer, visit National Parks: The Place to Be for Family Fun.

Michigan NPS sites include Sleeping Bear National Dunes, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Keweenaw Historic Park, and Isle Royale.

Fee waiver includes: entrance fees, commercial tour fees, and transportation entrance fees. Other fees such as reservation, camping, tours, concession and fees collected by third parties are not included unless stated otherwise.

See National Parks
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Friday, June 12, 2009

Gone Hiking

Gone Hiking! Back in a few days!

See My Quality Day
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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Tent Caterpillar Population Cycle High

tent caterpillar
tent caterpillar (photo by JHY)
a news release of Michigan DNR with additional information

Michigan is experiencing a heavy outbreak of forest tent caterpillars (FTC) this year, particularly in areas around Gaylord, Cadillac, Traverse City and Petoskey in the northern Lower Peninsula, according to the Department of Natural Resources. Tent caterpillars are not poisonous to touch and they do not bite. They are soft, and somewhat attractive with blue dots.
tree defoliated by tent caterpillars
tree defoliated by tent caterpillars (photo by JHY)

Widespread outbreaks of FTC occur at intervals of 10 to 15 years. These outbreaks last for two to five years, with most running their course in two to three years. FTC epidemics commonly begin over large areas simultaneously. This is caused by favorable weather conditions preceding an outbreak. Population buildups often follow periods of unusually warm, dry springs. Fortunately, FTC outbreaks eventually subside as caterpillars succumb to parasites and other insect natural enemies.

Defoliation begins in early May in the northern Lower Peninsula and late May in the Upper Peninsula. Defoliation can be dramatic and becomes noticeable by early to mid-June. However, cool weather slows development and feeding, extending the duration of outbreaks.

"Defoliation from FTC normally does little damage to the tree," said Roger Mech, forest health specialist with the DNR. "FTC infestation will reduce the vigor of the tree, but the tree usually recovers within a few years, after FTC infestation dies down."
tent caterpillar web
tent caterpillar web (photo by JHY)

Mech noted that most trees will develop a second set of smaller leaves around mid-summer, after the initial loss of leaves from FTC. He added that trees rarely die from FTC infestation alone.

Native flies play an important role in natural control of FTC, but fly populations tend to increase as a result, and can create another nuisance for the public. The DNR can provide technical advice to landowners and landowner groups experiencing FTC infestation. Landowners interested in technical advice should contact their nearest DNR office.

Aerial applications of pesticides may help reduce caterpillar nuisance during an FTC outbreak. Applications must be made at the appropriate time and by licensed experienced applicators. Once caterpillars are full grown and defoliation is nearly complete, pesticides are not effective. The DNR can help homeowners determine whether aerial spraying will be effective.
old tent caterpillar nest pulled open
old tent caterpillar nest pulled open (photo by JHY)

When spraying is warranted, the DNR recommends the use of a biological insecticide called Bacillus thuringiensis (also known as Bt). The DNR recommends the use of Bt because of its environmental safety. Bt is a naturally occurring bacterium that is effective only against caterpillars and is registered as an insecticide by several companies. Only caterpillars feeding on leaves sprayed with Bt are affected. Spraying Bt on caterpillars will not harm them. It has no effect on other insects, birds, people, and other animals.

The pictured nest is almost empty of caterpillars. It is filled with frass, caterpillar excrement. The caterpillars have mostly cocooned. Now we just need to wait for the leaves to recover.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Grand Rapids Millennium Park Opens New Trail Miles

Millennium Park Trail
Millennium Park trail (photo by ramjetgr)
based on a news story and release by WZZM TV

Eight of twenty new miles of paved trail have been opened in a new area of Grand Rapids' Millennium Park. The paved trail will be known as the Meijer Millenium Trail. Peter Secchia, well-known Grand Rapids figure and former Ambassador to Italy, persuaded Fred Meijer, founder of the Meijer stores, to donate money for the trail. Kent County added $1 million to purchase additional land.

The construction will also connect the parks two lakes, paving the way for a future boating area. For now, the paths will give trail lovers access to areas of the park. The remained or the trail is expected to be open by the end of summer.

Millennium Park is in the process of returning approximately 1,500 acres of this land to publicly owned, urban greenspace. Once completed, the Park and facilities will touch the four cities of Grand Rapids, Walker, Grandville and Wyoming. It will be twice as large as New York's Central Park, which served as a model for Millennium Park. It will be one of the largest urban parks in the country.

See Millennium Park
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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Kalamazoo River Cleanup Continues

Kalamazoo River in Rose Park
Pictured here is the Kalamazoo River near the Rose Park Veteran's Memorial on E. Michigan Ave. (photo by Tess McEnroe / Kalamazoo Gazette)
based on a news release of theKalamazoo Gazette

Monday, June 9, people gathered at Rose Park in Kalamazoo, Michigan to celebrate the continuing restoration of the Kalamazoo River.

"I heard the current," said state Senator Patty Birkholz (R-Saugatuck) "and I said, 'Thank you, Lord."

The river cleanup has been a large and ongoing project that has overcome many financial roadblocks as several of the companies paying for the work became bankrupt. Georgia-Pacific and Millenium Holdings have paid $25 million for this phase of the work. The river was heavily contaminated with PCB's in the past and the sediments have all been dredged and cleaned.

Also, remnants of the old dam and powerhouse have been demolished, and more than 2,000 trees, shrubs and plants planted. Participants were excited to be told that plans for restoring the 2.5 mile stretch north of Plainwell will be announced very soon. That section is expected to need $10 million worth of work.

Jim Saric, EPA project manager, explained that the Plainwell section will require two years of work, and studies will continue downstream, "toward Otsego, laying the groundwork for the march of the cleanup to continue all the way to Lake Michigan." An advisory about eating fish from the Kalamazoo is still in effect according to the DEC.

Many miles of attractive river are open to paddling as the Kalamazoo nears Lake Michigan. It is hoped that the continuing cleanup will eventually open the entire length of the river to recreation.
See Portions of Kalamazoo River Reopened for Public Use

See Kalamazoo River Webline
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Mason-Lake Counties Native Plant Sale

purple coneflower
purple coneflower and black-eyed susans
from the Mason-Lake Soil Conservation District Newsletter (used with permission)

The Native Plant Sale is back again by popular demand! Due to a continued interest the Mason-Lake Conservation District will be holding its 6th Annual Native Plant Sale on Saturday, June 20th with orders taken ahead of time. A variety of species will be available on the sale day as well.

Examples of plants for sale include: cardinal flower, New England aster, purple coneflower, gray headed coneflower, hoary vervain, ironweed, Jacob’s ladder, New Jersey tea, wild petunia, native grasses such as Canada wild rye, bottlebrush grass, big and little bluestem and much more! Woodland plants, such as Jack-n-Pulpit, trilliums, wild ginger, wild geranium and a variety of ferns will be on sale. Plants suitable for dry soils even dunes will be available as well as plants for clay & wet areas. Check out the enclosed order form. You can view the plants offered by coming into the office where we have a book of the different plants that will be available. We also have a list of all the plants with their scientific name and sun, soil and moisture conditions they prefer.

If you have any questions, call Lynda at 231-757-3708 x3. The deadline to pre-order your Native Plants is June 12th. There will be many extra plants available for sale on the day of pickup also, but if there is something special you want; pre–ordering is a much surer way to get them as many of the extras go quick. Don’t delay, order your plants today

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

PM Trail Surfacing Project

includes a news release of the Michigan DNR

The Pere Marquette Rail Trail extends from Midland to Clare. From Clare west to Baldwin, the route is known as the Pere Marquette State Trail, and is unpaved. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources owns this abandoned CSX Transportation right-of-way.

The DNR has announced that a portion of the Pere Marquette State Rail-Trail, approximately 5.4 miles in length, will be closed for asphalt surfacing during June and July. The closure begins at Clare, at the Clare Moose Lodge at Washington Avenue, to approximately two miles west of Farwell.

The surfacing project is expected to be completed by the end of July. The project is funded by the Michigan Department of Transportation from funding it received from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

See Pere Marquette Rail Trail
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Saturday, June 6, 2009

National Trails Day at Blacksmith Bayou

showing wrought iron wares
blacksmith Darla Selander displays her wrought iron works (photo by O Young)
by JHY

Blacksmith Bayou, south of Brethren, rang with the sounds of a blacksmith's hammer today as local smith, Darla Selander, demonstrated her skill. She brought a portable forge salvaged from a farmer's field and restored to working order.

hikers ready to walk
hikers preparing for a trek (photo by O Young)

The event was sponsored by the Spirit of the Woods Chapter of the North Country Trail Association. Blacksmith Bayou National Forest Campground is less than a half mile from the North Country Trail and is easily reached via a spur trail. Just below the campground the trail crosses Leitch Bayou where the club has done considerable work on bridges, puncheon, benching and treadway in the past several years.

Hikes on this day headed north through an interpreted section of the trail to High Bridge. High Bridge was a trestle crossing of the Manistee River by the former Pere Marquette Railroad.

See North Country Trail
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Can You Make 15,000 Miles for Rails to Trails?

15,000 mile promotion
a news release of Rails to Trails

How many trail miles can you travel between now and July 4th?

Celebrate the official start to the summer trail season by joining the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy 15,000 Miles Campaign. We are challenging members and supporters to ride, run, walk or skate 15,000 miles between Memorial Day weekend and the Fourth of July and raise $15,000 in the process to support rail-trail development across the country.

All you have to do is make a personal mileage and gift commitment to travel a specific amount of miles on trails and donate a certain amount for each mile to help us reach our goal of 15,000 miles and $15,000. The number of miles and amount of the donation is up to you!

Whether you want to make this commitment to lose weight, lower your carbon footprint or to just get outside and enjoy the season, it doesn’t matter. You’ll be benefiting and so will the rail-trails. More dollars mean more trails for you to use in the future.

While we all individually love and use rail-trails, collectively our efforts have led to the creation of more than 15,000 miles across the country. Help us get started on building the next 15,000 miles by joining with other RTC members and supporters in this one-of-a-kind campaign!

Plus…when you make a mile and gift commitment at certain levels, you will receive the following great trail essentials:

$50 - RTC t-shirt
$100 - RTC regional guidebook
$250 - 2009 RTC cycling jersey

See Rails to Trails
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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Nature Rocks

Nature Rocks logo
a news release of Nature Rocks

Nature Rocks is a new initiative created to inspire and empower parents to take their families out to play, explore and enjoy quality time in nature for happier, healthier and smarter children.

The Children & Nature Network has teamed up with REI, The Nature Conservancy, ecoAmerica, and the American Camp Association to bring you Nature Rocks. Nature Rocks brings families and nature together.

Sign-up for our webinar on June 9 to learn more.

"The benefits of nature for children are fundamental. We have seen tremendous growth in the movement to get children back outside, as parents realize these benefits for their children, and themselves, and spread the word," said Richard Louv, C&NN co-founder. "And, as families look for lower cost vacation options, we hope they will discover that nature offers them a personal stimulus package – the joy and cost-effectiveness of summer getaways in nearby nature – saving money while improving the physical and emotional well-being of their children."

As part of this effort, Nature Rocks introduces its 2009 Summer Nature Staycation Planning Guide. This free Guide provides parents and caregivers with information and tools to enjoy no- or low-cost summer vacations in nature that are close to home. With summer fast approaching, parents are looking for fun, family activities. Nature Rocks is an ideal solution. Regardless of budget, kids' ages or experience – the staycation guide will help parents plan affordable and fun activities in nature.

Nature Rocks is an ongoing initiative and the website and all related materials will be updated frequently to provide families with the most current tools and information to connect with nature.

See Nature Rocks
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If You Care, Leave It There

fawn in grass
a fawn, a few days old, lies silently in the grass (photo by JHY)
a news release of NY State DEC

Do Not Disturb Fawns and Other Young Wildlife

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today reminded people to keep their distance and not to disturb newborn fawns or other young wildlife as many animals are in the peak season for giving birth or hatching young.

Finding a fawn deer lying by itself is fairly common. Many people assume that young wildlife found alone are abandoned, helpless and need assistance for their survival. In nearly all cases this is a mistake, and typically human interaction does more damage than good. If you see a fawn or other newborn wildlife, enjoy your encounter, but for the sake of their well being, it is important to keep it brief and maintain some distance.

Young wildlife quickly venture into the world on shaky legs or fragile wings. While most are learning survival from one or both parents, some normally receive little or no parental care. Often, wild animal parents stay away from their young when people are near. For all of these young animals, the perils of survival are a natural part of life in the wild. Some will not survive. However, young wildlife that learn these important survival skills are the most fit and usually live the longest.

White-tailed deer fawns present a good example of how human intervention with young wildlife can be problematic. Most fawns are born during late May and early June. While fawns are able to walk shortly after birth, they spend most of their first several days lying still. During this period a fawn is also usually left alone by its mother except when nursing. People do occasionally find a lone fawn and mistakenly assume it has been orphaned or abandoned, which is very rare. In such a case, fawns should not be moved.

A fawn's best chance to survive lies in being raised by its mother. Fawns nurse three to four times a day, usually for less than 30 minutes at a time, but otherwise the doe keeps her distance. This helps reduce the chances that she will attract a predator to the fawn. The fawn's protective coloration, near lack of scent and ability to remain motionless all help it avoid detection by predators and people.

By the end of its second week, a fawn begins to move about more and spend more time with its mother. It also begins to eat grass and leaves. At about ten weeks of age, fawns are no longer dependent on milk, although they continue to nurse occasionally into the fall. During August, all deer begin to grow their winter coat and fawns lose their spots during this process.

Should you find a fawn or other young wildlife, If You Care, Leave It There. It may be difficult to do, but this is the real act of kindness and in nearly all cases that is the best thing to do. DO NOT consider young wildlife as possible pets. This is illegal and harmful to the animal. Wild animals do not make good pets; they are not well suited for life in captivity and they may carry diseases that can be given to people. Resist the temptation to take them out of the wild.

See Care of Young Wildlife
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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sharing Our Trails: A Guide To Trail Etiquette

trail sharing emblem
from a news release of The Blue Ribbon Coalition

A group of national and state trail advocacy organizations representing equestrian, OHV, and bicycle interests recently completed a collaborative effort to develop a new guide called "Sharing Our Trails - A Guide to Trail Safety and Enjoyment." The guide is intended to be used in a variety of ways such as incorporation in trail brochures, magazine articles and trail education programs of all types.

The purpose of the guide is to improve safety and improve trail satisfaction for all trail enthusiasts on multiple-use trails. To quote the document itself, "In many parts of the country, trails are open to and shared by equestrians , OHV riders, bicycle riders, runners and hikers. Trail sharing can and does work when people respect each other and work cooperatively to keep each other safe."

Lori McCullough, Executive Director of Tread Lightly!, Inc., said, "The Tread Lightly! ethic has always encouraged respect and courtesy between all trail enthusiasts, but conflicts still occur. This joint effort in educating all recreationists on the best practices for sharing trails shows common ground and collaboration can lead to improved trail experiences for all."

Twenty groups and agencies worked together to develop the document. "Sharing Our Trails: A Guide To Trail Etiquette" can be read by following the link below.

See Sharing Our Trails: A Guide To Trail Etiquette
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