Earth Day and Arbor Day 2016 bring Southwest Michigan Conservationists out in force

The week of Earth Day and Arbor Day 2016 saw Sierra Club Southwest Michigan Group conservationist Bill Strong heading up two projects.

Project one: rooting out the invasive garlic mustard attacking Saugatuck Dunes State Park

A garlic mustard invasion

A garlic mustard invasion

For people, garlic mustard is an edible herb. It’s used mostly in European and Asian cooking. People eat it, but American forest animals don’t. So when this pretty white flower takes root in a wild place where it doesn’t belong, it goes pretty much unchecked. It can take over an ecosystem and choke out the vegetation that the native animals prefer. It can change the character of Lake Michigan’s beautiful shoreline dunes.

The only thing stopping an invasive garlic mustard takeover is people like Bill Strong. The Michigan DNR put out an invasive species alert, and Bill Strong said, “I’m on it.” Bill and the DNR recruited a group of volunteers who met Saturday morning, April 23, and went to work on a project to keep Saugatuck Dunes State Park duney.

Scenes from the defense of Saugatuck Dunes State Park

Update, April 22, 2017

For Earth Day 2017, Bill, shown here on the right with Sierra Club Southwest Michigan Group Executive Committee member Joe Ziolkowski, again rounded up a crew to attack the Saugatuck Dunes garlic mustard invasion.

Part of Bill’s 2017 garlic Mustard attack crew.

Project number two for Arbor Day 2016: planting 300 new trees in Allegan State Game Area

Last year, Bill headed a project that gave Black River Preserve 200 new trees. On Saturday, April 30th, 2016, in honor of Arbor Day, Bill helped organize a tree planting for Allegan State Game Area. Working with Ana Hedberg, Executive Director of Allegan Conservation District, and Wildlife Technician Maria Albright of Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Bill recruited four groups of young conservationists to give Allegan State Game Area 300 new trees. Allegan Cub Scout Pack 3026, Allegan Girl Scout Troop 80500, Brownie Troop 80520, Daisy Troop 80024 all helped get the word done.

“The cultivation of trees is the cultivation of the good, the beautiful and the ennobling in man.” – J. Sterling Morton

Before the crews started digging, Ana Hedberg showed how to plant the trees. Maria Albright told the young work crew how trees prevent erosion, provide habitat and thermal cover for wildlife, and remove pollutants from the atmosphere. Mary Colborn, Sierra Club Southwest Michigan Group used the cross section of a tree trunk to show the inner workings of a tree and explain the meaning of its rings.

The people who worked on the Allegan State Game Area tree planting

Bill Strong reported that “the scouts enjoyed the hands-on experience of planting trees, learning the importance of preserving our environment for wildlife, and what their contribution meant in protecting our planet.”

Bill is a former LIFE Club Advisor at Lawton High School and a member of the Keep Michigan Beautiful board. He’s nominating Allegan Conservation District for a Keep Michigan Beautiful Award to acknowledging this contribution to the environmental improvement and beautification of Michigan.

Scenes from the tree planting work

Coverage in The Allegan County News

Arbor Day, 2016