Partners for Fish and Wildlife Assists Arcadia Dunes
BY HEATHER RAWLINGS, ALPENA FWCO
The Partners for Fish and Wildlife (Partners) Program has been working since 2011 with the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy (Conservancy) and Designs by Nature to develop the eastern part of the Conservancy’s Arcadia Dunes property into a 315-acre native grassland. Straddling the Manistee -Benzie County line in northwest Michigan, this property extends from the shores of Lake Michigan approximately five miles inland. Arcadia Dunes, which is a C.S. Mott Preserve, contains sand dunes, wetlands, forested property, and now a large contiguous native grassland. It truly offers unique, scenic plant and wildlife viewing opportunities.
Partners Biologist Heather Rawlings with the Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office (FWCO) toured the maturing native grassland with Conservancy Ecologist Angie Lucas on September 24, 2014. The Partners Program in conjunction with the Conservancy and Designs by Nature has funded 62 acres of the native grasslands, providing Michigan genotype grasses and forbs. These grasslands support a wide range of upland bird habitat and attract three state bird species of special concern: the grasshopper sparrow, northern harrier and western meadowlark. The sites are regularly monitored by the local Audubon Society, and are open to the public for hiking and bird viewing.
The northern 15-acre parcel was planted with warm-season grasses in 2013 and is now being prepped for the planting of forbs in the spring of 2015. Some work is required to get this site ready for the planting, such as removal of some encroaching shrubs and trees, spot-treatment of several invasive species such as spotted knapweed, mullein, and white sweet clover, and re-planting of the fire break to purely red clover. Fall is by far the best time to view native grasslands due to the explosion of color that the little bluestem, big bluestem and Indian grass provides. We look forward to viewing the grasslands again in 2015 following the spring forbs planting.