Article and photo by Donna Iverson
When some people look at bushes, they see geometric shapes, or animals or even humans. It makes them want to get out the hedge shears and transform the bush into the character of their imagination.
Topiary artist Georgia Donovan of Rockford is just such a person. She combines her love of art with her vocation of gardening, creating the most difficult form of topiary, animals and human beings. The human beings she calls her cedar sapiens or "tree people."
Free-form topiary like Donovan's is where you basically use your artistic eye to create a whimsical animal or other fantasy shape. A second type of topiary is when you use a wire frame and allow the plant to grow over it to form the shape. Somehow to me, the free form topiary is most intriguing as no two shapes are alike. They are living sculptures.
The tools you need for this garden craft are hand-held shears or pruners. One could also resort to electric or gas-powered clippers, although they pose a greater danger to the gardener. ..i.e. be very careful and wear heavy gloves.
If you are going the free-form route, topiary experts recommend you start at the top of the bush and work your way down. The bushes most amenable to holding their ornamental shape are boxwood, yew, privet, cedar, and arbor vitae.
If you want to use a wire frame, they are available at most garden centers, varying in size from small to large. Potted topiary, created using a wire frame, are great for patios and decks and even to dress up a front step. Small topiary make great house plants, and are often shaped in geometrical forms like circles, squares and spirals. Herbs make great scented topiary and possibilities include rosemary, lavender, mint, sage, thyme, bay and savory. Information on how to create an herbal topiary can be found at michigangardener.com
Digging back into history, topiary was popular in Elizabethan England, where English gardeners tried to recreate the ancient Roman gardens. But historians believe that topiary is even older than that, originating in Persia during the time of Alexander the Great. Of course, the Japanese have a long history of pruning bushes and trees into shapes, creating their graceful and peaceful Japanese gardens and diminutive bonsai.
If you are looking for topiary inspiration or just an interesting excursion, topiary gardens can be found in many states including Ohio, Massachusetts, Florida, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Maryland and Rhode Island. The closest topiary garden is in Columbus, Ohio, and has been featured in the Smithsonian magazine as the only known topiary park to mimic an impressionist painting. There is one section dedicated to ghosts.
In Michigan, the best place to see topiary and buy supplies are garden centers. If you are interested in your own cedar sapiens like the ones featured here, contact Georgia Donovan on Facebook. Cost estimates are between $100 and $200 and that includes the tree.
Planning ahead: The Grand Garden Show on Mackinac Island this summer is scheduled to open August 30. Tickets are available at the following site: https://grandgardenshow.com. Book early if interested.
Article and photos by Donna Iverson
When the world loses its color in winter, it's often the berries that stand out .....Winterberry, Bittersweet and Holly to name a few.
As winter sets in, I often snip holly branches to bring inside as it it one of the few bright, red, long-lasting accents provided by nature this time of year.
I find these holly bushes growing as hedges along sidewalks or individual bushes tucked into gardens, like the one pictured here in the Shakespeare Garden on the grounds of the Hackley Public Library.
Plants in a Shakespeare garden are the ones mentioned in the playwrights work, with holly earning its place based on a "Song of the Holly." Part of that song includes the words "Heigh-ho Sing...unto the green holly...this life is most jolly." It is the only time the bard mentions this plant.
The most popular holly is the English Holly, Ilex aquifolium, native to Western Europe, north Africa, and southwest Asia. It needs yearly pruning to hold its shape and grows to about 6 feet tall if left unpruned. It prefers a sunny location and well drained soil. New plants grow best if planted in the spring or fall. It is an evergreen and its berries are poisonous if not deadly. It doesn't need watering except during periods of drought.
Although toxic to humans and pets, birds and squirrels can safely eat the berries in late winter, when nothing else if available. Although they prefer the sweeter berries like Winterberry. Birds will also take refuge in holly bushes during severe winter conditions.
Out west, the English holly is considered an "invasive obnoxious weed," where it is spreading into forest habitat in California and Washington state. Not so our native Michigan holly, namely Winterberry, Ilex opaca. Winterberry is similar to English holly in that it has red berries, but the berries line the stems of the plant. Unlike its cousin, Winterberry prefers wet soil, and can be found along stream banks. Almost 50 species of birds will feed on its berries, as will rabbits, moose and deer. A deciduous shrub, it grows 3 to 15 feet tall.
Near Flint, the town of Holly is named after this plant, according to the Michigan Historical Society, which states on its website that the "red berries of the Michigan holly" are thought to have inspired the town's name.
Going back in time, the holly was a sacred plant of the Druids in ancient England, symbolizing fertility and magic. It was believed that cutting down a holly would bring bad luck, and bringing holly branches inside would bring good luck. Later, Christians adopted the holly bush to reflect their beliefs, and it became associated with Christmas.
Holly remains popular, and you can check out the Holly Society of America, Great Rivers Region, which includes Michigan, for information on annual conferences...last year in Columbus, Ohio.
Photos and article by Donna Iverson
I have a cat's nature. I like to prowl around and sniff things out...at art museums, flea markets, antique shops, used book stores and especially farmers markets.
This summer it was succulents that caught my eye. Vendors were displaying succulents in artistic arrangements in pots and dishes, large and small. They were begging to be purchased and brought home.
Next, I noticed them appearing as decorative elements at my favorite coffee shops, at the yoga studio, and displayed in store windows like cheese shops. I even found one planted in my community garden along the roadside.... namely a Yucca, native to the Southwest.
The interest in succulents is one of the top gardening trends in the last few years, with a 50 percent increase in sales, according to Bloomberg News. Reasons for this uptick in interest are many including:
1. Succulents are tiny, cute, inexpensive and easy to care for. They can be left for weeks, even months without watering.
2. They can provide a visually attractive accent to the spare modern design of many urban settings including small apartments. They come in a large variety of sizes and shapes and can be grouped together
3. Millennials are reportedly driving sales, making collections of these succulents and even thinking of them as pets ..pets that you don't have to walk or feed.
4. Marketers have discovered that you can ship large numbers of succulents at low cost, simply packing them in large plastic bags, where they can travel long distances without damage.
5. And social media cranks up the interest as hobbyists, gardeners, collectors, nurseries, and gardeners all post photos and comments about their latest succulent acquisition.
6. In the north country, it is a way to have green growing things inside when it is too cold to plant outside.
Personally, I have never been interested in succulents until this last summer when the yucca caught my eye. Then I noticed a number of farmers market vendors were displaying succulents for sale in interesting pots and dishes with artistic arrangements that were hard to ignore. I caved and bought an aloe. I figured, if nothing else, it would come in handy as a natural remedy for burns and scratches.
Care instructions included infrequent watering, a sunny spot in a windowsill and a porous not glazed pot. This I could manage and so far, the Aloe vera seems pleased with its new home. Of course, next I wanted to know where it came from, was it native to the Americas? In general, most succulents come from the deserts and rainforests of South America and Africa. But it turns out that the aloe comes from the Arabian Peninsula where it grows wild.
Succulents also grow wild in California, and their increased popularity has attracted poachers. In 2018, three men were charged with trying to export $600,000 worth of wild succulents they had poached from the state parks in Northern California. Succulents have become big business.
The succulent family is a large one and includes orchids, cacti, pineapples, poinsettia, jade, and agave, from which tequila is made.
And if fiber art, rather than indoor gardening, is your thing, embroidery art featuring succulents may spark your creative spirit like this piece pictured below, created by Sam Hopkins of Muskegon, Michigan.
By Terry Grabill
Photo by Andrea Grabill
I’ve been asked by many folks, “how does someone get started in birding?” The simple answer is to have an interest in birds and notice which ones are around. But, like most interests, there are some things that can make beginning more enjoyable and comfortable. When I started birding, oh, so many years ago, there was no internet to search for information about my interests. There was me, a little book with some bird pictures, and, of course, the birds. Fortunately, we live in a time where contacts are easier to make.
As I mentioned earlier, the first and most important requirement is an interest in birds. That interest will soon have you noticing things you’ve seen for years but never paid any attention to. Those birds that fly away when you open the front door will begin to look different from one another. Rather than seeing only a bunch of birds on a wire, you’ll notice they are shaped differently. I’m a middle school science teacher. On fine spring days, I’ll often take my kids outside and ask them to make some observations of the birds we see. Most of the kids are in awe when they get a good view of even the most common birds because they’ve never taken the time to notice anything besides an animal that flies away when they approach.
Now that you’re noticing that birds are not all alike, you’ll be curious as to what it is you’re seeing. Birds differ in shape, size, color and habitat. You’ll begin to notice patterns in these differences, and you’ll want a tool to help put a name to that creature. This is where a field guide becomes important. Today, there are many options to choose from. Organized birding trips are usually led by an experienced birder that can help identify birds quickly by sight and by ear. I would think that most looking to get started in birding won’t be hiring a personal guide. Instead, consider a pocket-sized personal guide. Many publishers offer print field guides, and which one is best is really a matter of personal preference. I use the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America. Some friends prefer others. Nat Geo is the one I learned with. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. I would recommend NOT getting one that is of a local area as most of these are limited to just the most common birds and many you’ll see won’t be represented in the book! Another pocket-sized guide is an app for your smartphone. There are lots of offerings here that you can install that will give handy, up-to-date information available anywhere…as long as you have signal! Merlin is a free download that does a nice job helping with bird identification.
Another tool that can make observation easier is a pair of good binoculars. Now, I’m not an optics snob but looking though discount store binoculars often makes birding more frustrating than looking without binoculars. Find the best binoculars you can fit into your budget. If you’re not convinced, look through some quality optics as a store and you’ll see the difference! Look for ones that have seven to eight power magnification. (the binoculars will have numbers printed on them, like 7x40 or 8x35. The first number is the magnification) Higher magnification limits the field of view, will get VERY heavy and will be hard to hold steady.
The best way to learn birds is to spend time looking for birds and noticing what you find! There are local nature clubs (such as Audubon) that hold bird walks. These are a great place for a beginner to learn from more experienced birders. The internet is full of information as well, but remember, this information is posted by anyone…and not everyone is posting correct info. Look for Facebook groups for birders. One of my favorites is Birding Michigan where you’ll find photos and tips by people that really know birding. Bird feeders are also excellent windows to local birds and their behavior.
So, there you have my starter pack for birding; interest, a field guide, quality binoculars, and time spent looking for and at birds.
For Birdgoober.com, I’m Terry Grabill.
Story and photo by Donna Iverson
After the holidays are over, what will you do with that live evergreen tree? Consider recycling it.
The Muskegon Conservation District is holding a tree recycling collection at their location at 4735 Holton Road in Twin Lake after Christmas.You can bring your tree there and place it in a designated area flagged off near the office building.The donated trees will be used for an upcoming project using evergreen trees for erosion control along stream beds.
According to Emily Grasch, a spokesperson for the district, the trees will be bundled up and placed along the sides of local streams. Basically the tree bundles will catch the sandy soil and hold it in place and not allow it to wash downstream, she said.
If you want to recycle your tree somewhere closer, you can find a recycling center nearby by checking out www.Earth911.com. You simply type in your zip code and you will get a list of recycling centers in your vicinity.
If you live on a lake, pond or creek, and rising water is eroding your property, positioning a Christmas tree along the bank can act as a natural sand fence, similar to what then conservation district is doing, The wood and branches help with erosion control and the nutrients can enhance whatever vegetation is growing nearby, even dune grass. Christmas trees can also be used to stabilize dunes.
Of course, you can recycle that tree right in your backyard. Break off the branches and use them to mulch your perennials. Evergreen branches also make a great base for a new compost pile. Dried pine needles can be used to make homemade potpourri along with pine cones, berries and dried herb leaves from your garden.
Then there's my personal favorite approach that requires next to no effort. Simply place your tree (minus the decorations) in the garden to provide habitat for birds and small mammals during the frigid winter months. Once the limbs dry out, the branches would make a great summer bonfire.
Thirty years ago, 90 percent of American households put up a real tree, according to USDA data. Today that figure is about 20 percent, although I suspect that figure is higher here in the north country. But the tide is turning as millennials are buying real trees, in their search for authenticity. Largely because of them, 2019 was the best year for real Christmas tree sales in a very long time.
According to a spokesman for the National Tree Association, 98 percent of real trees are grown in tree farms. In Michigan, the highest density of tree farms is in Missaukee county near Cadillac. These farms sold 571,000 Christmas trees in 2017. The most popular tree in the upper Midwest is Scotch Pine and Spruce, the same trees that were popular back when most people cut a tree down that was growing on their own or a neighbors property.
This uptick in real Christmas tree sales is giving a boost to rural communities where Christmas tree farms have been barely holding on waiting for just a resurgence in sales of their product, which is totally recyclable.
Story and photo by Donna Iverson
Poinsettia plants are the quintessential Christmas decoration plant. Every December, they multiply on shop shelves, appear in indoor holiday displays, and are found on many a work desk to mark the season.
Their red leaves with tiny yellow flowers can't be missed and it's hard to resist buying a colorful plant or two, as winter descends and snow covers the ground.
Ironically while they make their appearance in December, the poinsettia is a tropical plant that absolutely hates cold. Even a few minutes exposed to cold temperatures can damage the plant. So if you buy one, wrap it up in a blanket as you dash to your car. Just kidding, but do cover it up with something like a heavy paper bag.
While it looks like an exotic cultivar, poinsettia is actually native to North America, and grows prolifically in Mexico where it is not a potted plant but a perennial shrub that can grow 10 to 15 feet tall. In affect, a small tree.
However, the poinsettias that Americans buy do not come from Mexico. Seventy percent of them are grown in California. It's a good business. Poinsettias are the best selling potted plant sold in this country. It is a $250 million dollar business. Seventy million plants are sold every year.
Urban legiend has it that poinsettia plants are toxic to dogs and cats. Only slightly true. As animals would have to pretty much eat the entire plant to cause illness. A few leaves may cause mild diarrhea but nothing more. Still, you might want to discourage snacking.
Poinsettias have been breed to come in a wonderful variety of colors, including pink, cream and even blue. But red remains the most popular.
Caring for your poinsettias is relatively easy. It likes indirect light for at least six hours a day. Do not over water and it will last for months. Once a poinsettia begins to fade, you probably would like to know how to keep it alive until the next holiday season. Unless you live in the south, where you could plant your poinsettia outdoors, you would need a greenhouse in the north to keep it alive. Even then, you must provide 14 hours of absolute darkness daily during October for it to redevelop those scarlet red leaves, officially known as bracts.
As for history buffs, the poinsettia is named after a South Carolina botanist and American ambassador to Mexico back in 1828. His name was Joel Roberts Poinsett and December 12 was chosen as National Poinsettia Day to commemorate his introduction of this plant to the US.
And what is the correct pronunciation ?? ...it is correctly pronounced both poin-set-ah and poin-set-tia.
"It's been 10 years since Sandi Parkman went missing after being dropped off at home by her schoolmate, Nick Larson, now the Sheriff of Freeport, Michigan. When a construction crew unearths Sandi's bones--along with Nick's letterman jacket and one of his hairs--Nick becomes suspect number one in the murder."
Secret Remains the second book in the Coroner’s Daughter series is coming out in January and the author will be appearing at the Fremont Library for a book event Thursday January 2 7-9pm.
Jennifer Graeser Dornbush grew up in Fremont a city with a remarkable resemblance to the town of Freeport where the book takes place. While the television or movie screen is the closest most people will ever come to witnessing the forensic world, Jennifer actually lived it. As a daughter of Newaygo County Medical Examiner Dr. Ronald Graeser whose office was in their home, she investigated her first fatality, an airplane crash, when she was 8 years old, picking up pieces of skull and brain matter with her father who simply saw it as an anatomy lesson. This would be the first of many coroner lessons she experienced over two decades.
After careers in journalism and teaching, Jennifer turned seriously to screenwriting where she began to connect her coroner world to her writing world. She sought out a degree at the Forensic Science Academy in Los Angeles to gain more forensic training from LA’s top CSIs, fingerprint specialists, DNA scientists, and detectives.
Today, Jennifer Dornbush is a screenwriter, author, speaker and forensic specialist.
She authored Forensic Speak: How To Write Realistic Crime Dramas, and her first mystery novel, The Coroner, released in 2018. As a forensic consultant, she is frequently asked to consult with TV writers on shows such as Bull, Conviction, Hawaii Five-O, Leverage, Suits, and Rectify.
Besides working on several TV crime drama series, Jennifer has adapted a YA novel to script, and wrote the theatrically released film and novel, God Bless the Broken Road.
Story and photos by Donna Iverson
When it comes to raised garden beds, I'm a traditionalist so prefer untreated wood to grow my veggies in.
The community garden where I grow my veggies is transitioning to galvanized steel metal beds and I'm not happy about it. But I am in the minority.
These steel metal raised beds are becoming increasingly popular with home gardeners, community gardeners, cities and towns and local businesses. With good reason.
First, they can bring plants to inaccessible places like decks, patios and even along a town's main thoroughfare in front of local businesses. During the holidays, you can easily decorate them with evergreens and red ribbons.
A metal bed is cheaper than a wood one, lasts longer, and you can start the gardening season earlier, as it retains the heat of the sun. It is less likely than a wood bed to be infected with pests. These beds come in all shapes and sizes, are durable, portable, and have a contemporary look. But there is a downside.
In an effort to convince my fellow gardeners to stick with wood raised beds, I began researching the negatives.
Mostly my objection was aesthetic, as they look like cattle watering troughs to me ....which they are. But that didn't convince the gardening committee, whose members just shrugged when I brought up aesthetics. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, commented one member. Plus they are cheap and last longer, said another.
But you have to water them more often as they dry out more quickly, I countered. Another group of shrugs. Tomatoes will love them, came one retort.
Clearly I needed a stronger argument. Was there a food safety issue? Maybe.
Galvanized steel is made by coating the outside with zinc. Zinc will leach out of these metal containers as they age or are exposed to acid soil. So best not to grow acid loving plants, like blueberries, in them. Too much zinc in your diet is toxic.
But the research on the effects of galvanized steel on growing vegetables is sparse and inconclusive. Seems like zinc will leach into the soil as the years go by but not enough to really cause harm, research claims. Still, I'm not taking a chance, I told the garden committee.
That's when I learned that my rotting wooden bed was scheduled to be replaced in the spring with one of the galvanized steel ones, as were all the remaining falling-apart wooden beds in the garden.
Will let you know in 2020 whether or not I can live with this.
Photo and story by Donna Iverson
A lot of the latest gardening advice goes against my nature ..obsessive neatness. In recent years, we have been told to let the leaves rot were they fall. We have been asked to rethink our relationship with weeds as some are more nutritious than the vegetables we cultivate. Now I learn that we should leave dead tree branches on the tree and dead logs in the yard.
Why? In a word: biomass. What ? Basically, removing dead organic matter from your yard means a considerable loss of habitat for the insects, birds and animals that your garden needs to thrive and even survive.
That brings us to snags. Tree snags to be exact. Snags refer to a standing dead or dying tree, often with a missing top. Sometimes they are called wildlife trees as they are a vital backyard sanctuary for wildlife. Snags develop as trees die of old age or disease.
According to Wikipedia, snags also refers to trees, branches, and other pieces of naturally occurring wood found sunken in rivers and streams. And even dead logs lying in the woods or your backyard.
Snag trees like the one pictured here are rarely seen in urban neighborhoods as we are quick to remove them, seeing them as unsightly.
But if you want to support the wildlife around you, maybe you should consider leaving a dying tree and/or log in your yard. For if you do, many a living creature will benefit. And who are these creatures? The list is long. First, there are the cavity nesters, like woodpeckers, squirrels, bats, and even bluebirds. Birds of prey will use the snags for lookouts. This includes hawks and owls. Insects will feed on the bark providing lunch for the birds and animals that depend on them for their survival. And bats.
Even if you don't have a snag tree, you can offer similar habitat cover by leaving a log to rot near your garden. Even a stump supports wildlife. That log will attract salamanders, snakes, hedgehogs, and small birds, like the elusive brown creeper.
If the dead or dying tree is threatening your house or other building, you can have it trimmed rather than removed. You may have some explaining to do when the tree removal service shows up but you are the paying customer after all. And if neighbors are giving you the evil eye, create a small sign that reads "woodpecker habitat."
Since reading about snag trees I have been on the look-out for them and now find them visually interesting and see them as wildlife habitat and not ugly dying trees. Maybe you will too?
Story and photos by Charles Chandler
Have you ever worked for a great cause year in and year out and thought you would never reach your goal? You believe it is worthwhile so you persevere a little longer, another season, another year maybe. Kinda like rearing children?
Relocating the White Cloud Echo Drive road walk was such a cause for the staff of North Country Trail Association (NCTA) and volunteers of the Western Michigan Chapter (WMI), The National Park Service and the US Forest Service, and assorted trail hikers,
Newaygo County has an abundance of recreational assets that include great trails for hiking, kayaking, motorsports, horse, and snowshoeing. Some well-established and other being developed. The construction of the scenic Dragon Trail around Hardy Pond is underway and will soon be available for hikers and bicycles. We are also fortunate to have the mother and father of all hiking trails running through our County. “The North Country National Scenic Trail, or simply the NCT is a footpath stretching approximately 4,600 miles from the Long Trail in Vermont to Lake Sakakawea State Park in central North Dakota. Passing through the eight states it is the longest of the eleven National Scenic Trails authorized by Congress. As of 2019, 3,132 miles of the trail is in place. The NCT is administered by the National Park Service, managed by federal, state, and local agencies, and built and maintained primarily by the volunteers of the NCTA and its partners. The 28 chapters of the NCTA, its 3,200+ members and each affiliate organization have assumed responsibility for trail construction and maintenance of a specific section of the NCT.”
The 350 or so members of WMI of the NCTA manage and maintain about 90 miles of the NCT in Kent and Newaygo Counties. One of the overarching objectives of the NCTA and the army of volunteers is to ensure the trail path is safe, well maintained and has the smallest number of road miles as possible. The dangers of the Echo Drive road walk are well known and the effort to move the trail has been ongoing for a decade or longer. The quarter-mile that the NCT runs along Echo Driver is simply not safe. There are no provisions for pedestrians along this section and the hills and curves do limit drivers' vision. For some reason, drivers appear to think the stretch of road between the White River curve and the Jugville curve is the rural equivalent of the Indianapolis 500. In the summer it is somewhat safer for trail hikers because they can move to the shoulders of the roadway. Not so in the winter as the occasional hiker has to stay on the roadway because of the snowbanks. Shame on those drivers that speed along this section, especially when they are passing trail hikers. This summer there was a fatal motorcycle accident on Echo Drive just past the White Cloud cemeteries. Speed appeared to be the cause of the accident.
This trail reroute project is a very big deal for NCT trail hikers and to White Cloud. The City is located at the halfway point of the NCT and is a designated NCTA Trail Town. White Cloud is connected to the NCT by a well maintained and marked loop trail that begins and ends in the White Cloud Park and Campground. This important trail is used through all seasons by locals and as the off-ramp for those hiking the NCT that need access to the amenities in the Campground or the City. This loop trail also travels along Echo Drive and because of speeding drivers, many local hikers won’t use the entire loop.
In the distant past various local hikers, members of the Michigan Trail Finders, WMI, NCTA, and US Forest Service have tried a variety of strategies to get the NCT off Center Line and Echo Drive. The goal was to keep the trail within the Huron-Manistee National Forest. One of the challenges in doing this was that the trail had to cross swamps around Alley Lake
and a beautiful but troublesome little leatherleaf marsh. The US Forest Service has some very strict rules about disturbing wetlands. Members of the WMI, NCTA and the National Park Service worked for several seasons to secure trail easements across private land thereby avoiding these swamps and marsh. At one point they had funds to purchase the private land. Good faith market rate offers were made to landowners, but no sale was made.
In 2012, Jeff McCusker, former Trail Manager for the National Park Service, Beth Keloneva and this correspondent using GPS laid out the preliminary Optimal Location Review (OLR) for the NCT reroute. The route-finding career of these three surveyors almost ended that day. As they were busy with route-finding gunfire erupted and they swear they heard bullets zipping through the foliage. A local sportsman had driven in on one of the two tracks and had begun a little target practice. After some shouting and friendly discussion with the shooter, safety was restored.
In 2014 the National Park Service signed and completed an Optimal Location Review (OLR) for this project. This proposed three-mile trail would follow the preliminary OLR. After this milestone was finally passed the next steps were to do a little fundraising, buy some construction materials, gather up the minions, break out the tools and at long last start work.
In 2019 the project was funded by a generous grant from the Fremont Area Community Foundation.The NCTA staff was able to purchase all the material and pay for the Forest Service's staff time. The new trail footpath was flagged in the fall of 2019, and US Forest Service finalized the trail on September the 10th. The US Forest Service Staff and WMI members opened the road to the worksite on September 12 making way for lumber delivery. The next day on the 13th of September construction of the 350-foot-long raised boardwalk over that charming little marsh began. The boardwalk was engineered by Forest Service staff to minimize the impact on the Alley Lake wetlands. You can also see this type of boardwalk on the trail at the nearby Loda Lake Wildflower Sanctuary.
The three miles of the long-awaited reroute are expected to be completed in 2020. Those future hikers traveling along this new reroute will enjoy a much safer and scenic section of the NCT. Most likely they will not be aware of the many years of effort and cost it took to get the NCT off Echo Drive. That is as it should be. They are there to enjoy the solitude and the serenity of their walk along the NCT as it passes through the woodlands of our County and the Huron-Manistee National Forest.
Well done folks.
Thanks to the following who love the NCT, and persevered in this arduous but worthwhile project.
WMI Chapter Staff
Paul Haan, Larry Meyer, Chuck Vannette, Beth Keloneva, Charles Chandler, Steve Hatting, Dale Painter, Bill Treat
NCTA Headquarters Staff
Andrea Ketchmark, Exec. Director NCTA
Bruce Matthews, Retired Exec. Director NCTA
Kenny Wawsczyk, MI Trails Coordinator NCTA,
US Forest Service:
Dave Jaunese Assistant Ranger for the Baldwin District and Trails Manager
Kathy Bietau – Retired USFS
Kristin Thrall USFS, Huron-Manistee National Forests, Recreation Program Manager
Jon Meeks Forest Service Engineer from the Supervisors office in Cadillac
Carlon Parmelee Recreation Technician from Baldwin
Steve Sawyer former Forest Service employee
US National Parks:
Jeff McCusker, NPS Superintendent - Retired former NPS Trail Manager
Chris Loudenslager, NPS Superintendent
Don King, National Park Service, Realty Officer, National Trails Lands Resource Center
Joe Sobinovsky, NPS, Realty Officer, National Trail Lands Resource Center
Paul Salvatore, US Forest Service Huron Manistee National Forests Lands Program Manager
Iron Belle Trail Funds
Fremont Area Community Foundation
With gratitude to all the unnamed volunteers that will take tools in hand and spend their weekends working to bring this project to a successful conclusion.