The Great Lakes region supports a wide array of coastal natural communities that are endemic and globally rare including lakeplain prairie, Great Lakes marsh, open dunes, alvar, and coastal fen. These ecosystems face a variety of threats, including the establishment and spread of invasive species. There is a critical need to develop scientifically credible and affordable methods for detecting and monitoring the impacts of invasive plant species in coastal ecosystems and assessing the success of restoration efforts to control invasives. Because monitoring efforts are costly and time-consuming, monitoring is often assigned the lowest priority in management plans and is often bypassed. Michigan Natural Features Inventory and Michigan Aerospace Corporation are partnering to develop a low-cost monitoring platform using drones equipped with high-resolution cameras and deep learning algorithms to identify invasive species in high-quality coastal ecosystems. In this presentation we will share results of our first year of research.
"The late 19th century was a time of monstrous fires associated with settlement. The U.S. adopted a program of state-sponsored conservation in response, much as Europe’s colonial powers did. The Great Fires of 1910 mark the advent of modern fire protection. The next 50 years saw the creation of a national infrastructure for fire control with the U.S. Forest Service as an institutional matrix and a policy of suppression as a standard. In the 1960s a protest movement objected, and by 1978 a veritable revolution had occurred that redefined the goal as a policy of fire by prescription, which intended to restore good fires. Equally, it removed the Forest Service as a hegemon in favor of interagency institutions. That project stalled under the Reagan and Bush the Elder administrations, then revived after the 1994 season. By then the window for reform had narrowed. Now, after 50 years of attempted restoration, the federal agencies are moving toward a hybrid practice of managed wildfire. Today, each era continues to promote updated versions of its goals. Suppression is moving toward an all-hazard, urban fire-service model. Restoration has expanded from simple prescribed fire to interactive techniques involving fire and fuel management, all embedded in complex collaborations. The managed wildfire is still a work in progress, but it seems implicitly to reject the idea that we can get ahead of the problem or that fire is something largely under our control in favor of administrative mashups. Interesting times."
"(Re)connect with Nature: Keep a Nature Journal"
The Stewardship Network is all about working in (or on behalf of) nature, but it can be easy to get caught up in the work and forget to pause and truly see the natural areas we’re working in. Winter is a perfect time to reflect and reconnect, so for this month's webcast we are joined by ecologist Jacqueline Courteau, who will share ideas and prompts for using nature journaling to (re)connect to nature. More than just a field notebook, a natural journal can be used as a form of meditation and reflection, to heighten observation skills, and to increase your feelings of gratitude and connectedness—to nature, to community, and to memory. This session will offer inspiration to deepen your connection to the land you love. Come and cultivate your sense of wonder!
Jacqueline Courteau is an ecologist and consultant (NatureWrite LLC) who has taught courses including field ecology and ecology labs, restoration ecology, sense of place, natural history, and environmental writing at University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University. From an initial emphasis on field notebooks, she evolved to a broader approach of assigning nature journaling, and students consistently reported that, despite their initial resistance, this assignment was meaningful and enjoyable (some students emailed years later remembering this as a high point of their college class work). She understands the difficulty of committing to any kind of meditative practice, and hopes that by offering these exercises to the larger conservation community, we can support each other in our efforts.
"Forest Understory Adaptation in with Anishinaabe and Western Scientific Knowledges"
Michigan Tribes maintain important relationships with, and knowledges, on Michigan forests, seasons, and cycles. The Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan is facilitating a collaborative adaptation project with the Bay Mills Indian Community, Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, and Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, with assistance from Michigan Natural Features Inventory and the Northern Institute for Applied Climate Science. This project engages Anishinaabe and western science to: 1) better understand how five forest understory plants might respond to climate-driven change and 2) identify ways to support these plants on tribal lands and across the region. Project methods and initial findings will be shared.
Guest: Clay Wilton; Michigan Natural Features Inventory
"Natural resources agencies currently invest a significant amount of resources developing prescribed burn plans. However, many proposed burns are never implemented, and the current burn system does not systematically evaluate all stands. Given that funding for implementing prescribed fire is finite, it is imperative that proposed burns be informed by the best available ecological information. Through this project, Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI) has worked in conjunction with Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division staff to develop a prescribed fire needs assessment for WLD managed lands in Southern Lower Michigan. This prescribed fire needs assessment model can be extrapolated for other agencies and other fire-dependent geographies."
"Were you told not to bother with common names of plants because they are so variable, and instead to learn Latin names, which – we were promised – would never change? If so, then you know that has proven to not be true! Aster is no longer the Latin name for all our asters! Little bluestem is no longer an Andropogon. What happened? Are plant taxonomists simply torturing all of us and hoping that we will keep buying new Plant Guides? What is the science behind these name changes?
Hemlock woolly adelgid is a small yet dangerous invasive insect that has become a big problem for hemlocks in Michigan and beyond. You can learn more about the species on Michigan.gov's website: https://www.michigan.gov/invasives/0,5664,7-324-68002_71241-367635--,00.html
Our guests this month are John Bedford (Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development) and Greg Norwood (Michigan DNR). Topics covered will include:
"Volunteers are key to most stewardship programs. During this webcast we’ll look at: How does the organization develop and maintain their volunteer program? We’ll be discussing how to run a stellar volunteer program for your organization, your impact, and your volunteers; how to evaluate and communicate what your volunteer program has to offer in order to recruit the best volunteers for the job; and how to match the best volunteer opportunity for your volunteers."