Author:Justin Heslinga, Stewardship Director

Overcoming Oak Wilt

It was confirmed: oak wilt had claimed the lives almost all the red and black oaks across this section of woods. Oak wilt is a disease caused by the non-native fungus Ceratocystis fagacearum, and is lethal to oak trees. But as devastating as oak wilt...

A Day on the Burn Crew

Long before the state of Michigan was made up of a patchwork of geometric farm fields, sprawling cities, meandering highways, and stretches of forest, the state was made up mostly of a dynamic mixture of three landscapes--prairie, oak savanna, and oak forest. Those habitats shifted...

Putting Nature in its Place

On a bright clear morning in early December, I watched a bulldozer tear up the land.  Back and forth it worked, methodically stripping vegetation from the ground and skimming off the soil. Behind it, an excavator ripped into a hillside and piled the dirt a few...

Planting a Prairie

Restoring Land, Restoring Hope. On Black Friday, 23 people came out to Saul Lake Bog Nature Preserve and planted a prairie. While the rest of America was out fighting crowds, standing in line, and getting into altercations over parking spots, 23 people were outside, breathing fresh...

The Surprising Legacy of Suzie

As a young boy I lived in central Illinois, a region better known for its endless seas of windswept corn than any magnificent natural wonders. So I was lucky, perhaps, that my parents’ house backed up to one of the largest oak forests in the...

Cutting Trees to Protect Rare Oak Barrens [Update]

[caption id="attachment_6834" align="alignright" width="421"] A Karner blue butterfly spotted during this summer's butterfly survey[/caption] Post Update: This week, a crew will be working at Maas Family Nature Preserve to remove trees from six acres of forest that is encroaching on rare oak barrens. Some may wonder, "why...

A Wetland Come to Life

When it comes to restoring natural areas, instant gratification is hard to come by. Most ecological stewardship projects take a long time to unfold. Progress is marked in increments of years, decades, or even longer. If you plant a forest, for example, don’t plan on...

Fight for Virginia Snakeroot

If you’re lucky enough, you’ve seen Virginia snakeroot in bloom. If you’re like me, you almost passed it by. You may have bent down to part the goldenrod and geranium to find the little nondescript plant there on the ground, its curvy tubular flower hidden beneath...

Spring Arrivals

This morning I stopped by Saul Lake Bog Nature Preserve to prep for some upcoming fieldwork (we’re restoring more than 7 acres of prairie and savanna this year). As I stepped out of the truck, a primordial squawk from just overhead led me to pick...

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