One Week as a Stewardship Intern

One Week as a Stewardship Intern

“Ugh… day one” says everyone else on Monday mornings. Not a Stewardship Intern at the Land Conservancy of West Michigan. Our week is action packed, full of adventure and beautiful sights!


Herbiciding at Wege Foundation Natural Area

Dorthea and I spent the day at The Wege Foundation Natural Area in Lowell herbiciding red maple, multiflora rose, autumn olive, and bittersweet. These invasive species re-sprouted after the controlled burn this spring. The burn was successful at knocking back many of the smaller red maples and invasive shrubs. However, some follow up was necessary in order to keep the undesirable species in check and give some of the desired species (oaks, hickory, and woodland wildflowers) a chance to succeed. I’ll be honest, carrying 25.1 pounds (every tenth counts) of herbicide on your back isn’t always fun but frequent breaks were taken to gorge on the wild black raspberries.

stewardship intern - treefrogThe tree frogs hatched recently and we saw hundreds of these little guys hopping around.


Boundary Signs at Depersia South Highlands Nature Preserve

On Tuesday, we trekked to the lakeshore, to a little backdune preserve. Depersia South Highlands Nature Preserve is just a few miles south of Grand Haven State Park. There, we met Preserve Steward, Dave Cairoli. He expertly guided us along the boundary and pointed out the survey posts that indicate the property line while Dorthea and I put up fresh boundary signs. Placing boundary signs can be prickly work. When our gps indicates the property line going through a swampy thicket of thorny shrubs, well, we trudge through it. Fortunately, Depersia proved to be pleasant and it only took a few hours to go around the entire preserve.

stewardship intern - Lake MichiganOur lunch break view from the public beach near Depersia. Not too bad…


Restoring oak forest at Wege Foundation Natural Area

On Wednesday, Justin, the Stewardship Coordinator, joined the two of us at Wege where we started to tackle a field of brush (formerly a pine plantation) that he intends to start turning into oak savanna. Justin used a heavy duty brush cutter to clear a ten foot radius around the small, eight year-old oaks that are scattered intermittently throughout the field while Dorthea and I followed behind, clearing the brush and herbiciding around the trees. In the fall, seeds for native grass will be dispersed in the cleared sections with the hope that over time these “islands” will grow (with help by some more brush cutting) and connect with one another.

Wege Photo MonitorThis field will someday be filled with oaks, native grasses, and wildflowers. Photo taken from one of our new photo monitoring signs.


Office work

Dorthea created a document, compiling all of the preserve monitoring plans in order to streamline work and to free up storage space in Justin’s brain. I worked on a policy for OPDMD (Other Power-Driven Mobility Devices) use on the nature preserves. We like it better outside…


Trail maintenance at Minnie Skwarek

On Friday, we went west to Minnie Skwarek Nature Preserve. The preserve is located along the Grand River, about five miles from Lake Michigan. We did half of this job a few weeks prior when we installed a new preserve sign, replaced some rotting boardwalk planks, and marked the trails but we came back to finish the work. We spent most of our time clearing an overgrown trail that crosses a creek. The trail has been partially flooded due to high water levels in Lake Michigan. The flooding stopped us short of clearing the whole trail. So, we’ll have to clear the rest when the water level drops.

Ugh… the weekend–only two more days until we get to come back to work on Monday!

stewardship intern - hawkA Coopers hawk hangs out in the canopy.


1 Comment
  • Margaret Idema

    Well done interns!! Thank you for your hard work…and I’ll bet Justin isn’t going to let you rest anytime soon either!!

    August 4, 2016at4:08 pm

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