Three things you can do to protect land during a time of social distance

Three things you can do to protect land during a time of social distance

Quite a lot has changed over the past couple of weeks. And while many of the events we all look forward to every year are cancelled or changing shape, our aim at UPLC is to provide ideas and encouragement through this time. We hope that many of you who are healthy and can get outside do so, and that curiosity, wonder, and enjoyment of UP recreation spaces continue to be a part of your life over the coming weeks. The UP Land Conservancy public nature preserves will remain open and be there for you as long as we are able to keep them open. Here are some ideas if you need a break into nature.

1. Go Over the River and Through the WoodsWalk or Run our 5k Trail 

Each year we host our fun-filled Over the River and Through the Woods 5k Run and Walk through the beautiful 123-acre Vielmetti-Peters Conservation Reserve. While the race this year (originally scheduled for early May) is off – we hope that doesn’t deter you from getting out and exploring this beautiful trail at your own pace! 

In fact, this article with info and tips about running during the Coronavirus Outbreak recommends that now is not the time to push yourself hard or try for personal best time.

Here is our 5k trail map if you would like to follow our route and also some inspiration photos from last year’s race 🙂 

2. Volunteer Outside through Citizen Science – Get out the Binocs, it’s Bird time! (and plant, and mammal, and even insect time! #Spring!)

As Spring comes to the UP it is a fascinating and exciting time to witness the changes that occur – from new plant life popping up to the birds returning to their breeding and nesting areas. Watching this change each year is amazing.

Last year, we wrote all about different Citizen Science projects that help UPLC take note and gain a better understanding of sightings in our area. Whether you’ve participated before or are just getting started, contributing to our collective knowledge and observations of timings can help us continue to protect and make the case for protecting land for wildlife.

Consider taking your binoculars for your next walk and contributing what you see to our iNaturalist project. If you’ve never used iNaturalist, now is a good time to play around and learn a new program.

A great place for this is at the Chocolay Bayou Nature Preserve located on Main Street in Harvey (across from the Superior Smokehouse). There are signs all along the trails of the birds you are likely to see, some information about their lives and their sounds.

Maybe citizen science-ing (or birds) aren’t quite your style right now and you just just want to get out and learn a bit. We recommend the ‘iNaturalist Missions’ (in the app) which give a list of common plants and animals you are likely to see in your area so you can find them. This one can be really fun to do with younger kids, or for older kids to do on their own. One of our staff used this to learn about different Pines in the Chocolay Bayou Preserve! 

3. Protect the Future of Outdoor Recreation in the UP,  Today

At UPLC, we feel quite fortunate to be surrounded by so much open natural space and to be part in protecting it and providing recreation opportunities alongside other community organizations. There are many ways that you can continue to support organizations like UPLC who provide recreation opportunities to our community, even though our group volunteer days are postponed for now.

Protected land and recreation opportunities in nature is more important to our community now more than ever. For many people, outdoor recreation is now a main source of sanity, health, education, and a sense of permanence and normalcy. You can support UPLC’s recreational trails through the Adopt-an-Acre program or with a simple donation, right now.

Please also consider taking this time to learn about how UPLC works closely with other organizations across the UP to provide safe outdoor recreation to the community – we are all in this together!

Check out some of our friends sites and follow them on Facebook & Instagram for local updates: 

Heart of the Lakes recently launched a “Recreation Ambassador” program, check it out at

Noquemanon Trail Network provides an immense network of multi-use trails across private and public lands – We are working closely with the NTN to create the Dead River Community Forest

The Iron Ore Heritage Trail is a great place for a long walk with an official trail ‘spur’ at the Chocolay Bayou Nature Preserve.

The North Country National Scenic Trail runs from one end of the UP to the other – Bayou trails are an official Spur (really, from New York to North Dakota – talk about social distance!)

Stay safe and enjoy the outdoors! 

Restoration Forestry

Restoration Forestry

By: Brian Liesch

The Upper Peninsula Land Conservancy’s roles and desires for land management are multi-faceted.  As you may already know, the UPLC already permanently protects land through our Conservation Preserve and Conservation Easement programs.  The UPLC also runs a “Forests For the Future” Conservation Reserve Program, in which 25 properties are enrolled, totaling 1,612 acres.

Conservation reserves are properties we own and sustainably manage by Restoration Forestry principles.  These provide an ongoing source of funding and allow us to demonstrate ecologically sound forestry principles.  Often times these are lands that were clear cut in the past and were either mismanaged or left alone prior to UPLC’s acquisition.  UPLC saw the need to manage these properties to promote a more natural, biodiverse and healthy forest while being able to sustainably log and model these forestry practices for educational purposes.

In particular, our Forests are guided by Restoration Forestry principles and are managed with these goals in mind:

  • Maintain, restore, and enhance the biological diversity, water quality, and ecological integrity of the managed parcels and the broader landscape context through long-term, sustainable, forest management practices.
  • Meet the requirements of Michigan’s Commercial Forest Program and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, as well as the UPLC’s organizational objectives in all aspects of land management.
  • Reinvest revenue generated from sustainable production of forest products into both new and ongoing UPLC conservation priorities.
  • Foster the sharing of lessons learned and future forest management innovation by establishing the property as a demonstration of ecologically-based land management.
  • Create and maintain positive, viable collaborations with other landowners to achieve individual and common objectives across the landscape.
  • Contribute to the local economy through forest jobs, forest products, and compatible outdoor recreation opportunities.

By following the above principles, we are able to develop resilient working forests that provide ecological benefits, recreational and educational opportunities, while providing income to the UPLC and supporting the local economy.

An example of our Restoration Forestry in action is at our 320 acre Debelak Forest Reserve in Alger County donated in 2006 by the Debelak family.  At the time of UPLC’s Acquisition of the parcel, the forest was predominantly maple.  While fantastic for logging and beautiful in the fall, if a disease were to come through that affected maple trees, this property and surrounding land would be severely impacted.  The UPLC saw an opportunity to restore the biodiversity of the forest through Femelschlag or Expanding Gap forestry practices.  The Debelak property has been visited by other foresters across the region as a model in expanding gap forestry, while economically benefiting the UPLC and region and providing recreational opportunities for others to enjoy.

Former Executive Director Dr. Chris Burnett giving a tour of the Debelak Reserve and Expanding Gap Forestry to members of Federal, State, Non-Profit and Private organizations in August 2019.

Finding something new in a familiar place.

It’s funny when you think you know a place and then realize how wrong you are. I thought I knew the U.P. because I grew up here, went to school here and explored it from east to west with my family. But I couldn’t have been further away from the truth.

While working as the UPLC’s Stewardship Intern I was able to explore this special place we all love so much. As the seasonal monitor I traveled to a majority of the UPLC’s Conservation Easements, Reserves and Preserves. These properties are spread out throughout the U.P., one of the furthest being 2 hours and 40 minutes west of Marquette. While monitoring, I traversed the properties looking for possible violations and just enjoyed being in the middle of absolutely nowhere. While I did stumble across some trash piles and forest fire remains, I also went to some of the most beautiful places in the U.P. I have ever been to. 

I thought I knew my backyard well, but little did I know:

Lake Saint Kathryn and Surrounding Area

Gasely Lake in the Ottawa National Forest.

An incredibly diverse wilderness that is visited seldom by noisy tourists.

Wild rose with beetle.

American toad.

While visiting this site in the east Ottawa National Forest I found a quiet place that was teaming with wildlife. It was as if creatures and plants didn’t expect me coming. Peacefully undisturbed in their wilderness sanctuary, I was able to get up close and personal with some unfamiliar nature. Here, I discovered a Stemonitis spp. of slime mold (bottom left photo). Slime molds are common everywhere in the world and are not fungi but amoeba. These single celled organisms do not have a brain but are very efficient at finding food sources. The slime molds in this picture may be Stemonitis fusca, and appear to have little legs. 

For more information about Slime Molds, check out this PBS article: ‘Slime Molds: No Brains, No Feet, No Problem’

Ford Eagle Preserve

 Where familiar and unfamiliar people preserve land for the future of Bald Eagles.

Northern bay of Squaw Lake.

Hardwood-conifer swamp.


Cedar stand on the edge of Squaw Lake.

Located in the southwest corner of Marquette County, the Ford Eagle Preserve is situated around the northern edge of Squaw Lake. As a preserve, the Ford Eagle is a place the public can go to explore something new in the home county of Marquette County. Thanks to the Ford Motor Company and a local resident, this great habitat for Bald Eagles was preserved.

In 1978 the Ford motor Company’s Mining Properties Department advertised several pieces of surplus land to be auctioned off in the UP. A local resident, Loren Ameen, saw the notice and became interested in the parcel before discovering an active bald eagle nest on the property. Mr. Ameen contacted The Nature Conservancy and Ford, which then set aside this land as an eagle preserve. The Nature Conservancy acquired the property in 1995 and transferred the preserve to the U.P. Land Conservancy in 2002 to become the Ford Eagle Preserve. Eagles have nested on the north shore of the lake since the 1940s.

Trails for the Ford Eagle Preserve are planned to be made by 2021. If you are interested in helping, please contact us! 

Witch Lake Area

Where you discover you don’t need to go to the Amazon rainforest to experience a jungle.

Marsh area in Harris Lake area.

Rich conifer swamp.

Flowering vine.
Young aspen stand.

So you think you are prepared for the worst conditions? You say “I’m a Yooper, nothing can phase me!” You think you can handle the bugs, you’ve seen the worst of them and you think you can handle the humidity, you live in a swamp! Then one day you go to a jungle you had no idea existed in your backyard. Although this was the most trying monitoring visits of the summer it was surprisingly rewarding. 

Bushwhacking through barbed plants while the mosquitos are happily snacking on my only exposed body part because I am trying to take a picture of that unfamiliar plant can get tiring after a while. But after the day was finished with my boots completely soaked through (along with my raincoat and pants), I realized how incredible it is that such a wild place exists so close to my home. 

◯ ◯ ◯

Even though we all have our favorite hikes and places to be close to nature, there is so much to be discovered in the places we think we know. Try exploring a little and you will be surprised. 

Will you take the first step into adventure?

“The Yooper Hearth”

The Upper Peninsula is a land in and of its own.  The people, the culture, the very grasp on reality that we have in the UP is seemingly different from that of Wisconsinites, Trolls, or anywhere else in the US for that matter.  We seem to continue some of our fellow Midwesterner’s traditions like marshmallows in “salads” and casseroles, but we’re a different breed of Midwesterner up here. We’re loyal, we’re strong, and we’re grateful, and those characteristics seem to be drawn from the land around us. 

There is a separation between us and them, and I believe wholeheartedly that it is the geography of this homeland that gives us our distinction.  We are separated from them in the south by a great expanse of trees and ongoing forests, to the north by our dear Mother Superior, and even to the east by a nearly 5-mile-long bridge and a $4 toll.  We are our own island nation of kind, warmhearted people.

I grew up in Iowa and Wisconsin, surrounded by sprawling fields and the wafting smell of manure.  When I was 16, I was transplanted with my family to Negaunee. I found myself instantly feeling suffocated by the extent of trees and the isolation this area has to offer.  All I wanted to do was look out and be able to see big sky and rolling hills – Lake Superior and Sugarloaf truly became lifesavers. Though the scenery was beautiful, I continued to feel ostracized by the land rather than welcomed by it.  Like the people here, the natural things all around me were a tight-knit group; generation after generation of tree towering high over what I now call Home.  

After attending Negaunee for High School and NMU for my undergrad, I had to leave the UP and travel to Kent State University in Ohio for my graduate career.  I found myself in Ohio surrounded by fields, buildings, and people…and yet felt lost. All I craved and yearned for was a grouping of trees that I could be protected in.  I wanted to be in a place of nature where there were no other people for miles. I wanted Home. The very thing that made me uncomfortable when I first moved to Negaunee, was what I had come to love more than ever.

I am now heading back to Northeast Ohio for my 4th year there, and I still find myself dreading the trip.  I dread the thinning of trees as I dive south into the Lower Peninsula.  I dread the congestion of people and traffic as I cross the bridge. And I dread being alone in a land where people pronounce sauna wrong and don’t know the joys of fresh-picked blueberries.  I find myself not only missing the people and the landscape but missing the way the land makes me feel.  Though not a lifelong Yooper, I found that I grew with the land around me. It made me who I am today… It made me loyal.  It made me strong. It made me grateful.

The people here have an attachment to the land that I’ve seen nowhere else.  It’s not that we’re all farmers living directly off the land, and it’s not that we’re all camping day in and day out.  It’s that we thrive off of it. Our souls draw from the breath of the forests as they sway in the wind around us. We are calmed by the snow that coats our lives anew each winter, blanketing us with something familiar.  We are enticed by the clear teal water of Lake Superior, gazing down to times gone past.

It is the physical geography around us that draws a group of people into community.  Our community is made up of loyal, strong, and grateful people. But it’s the land that brings those people together.  It’s the land that has created this loving and welcoming community of Yoopers. It’s the land that we all call Home. And nothing has taught me that more than having to leave it.  When we protect our land, we protect our culture, our community, and ourselves.

Fostering Resilience

Changing directions mid-stride, without missing a step: Summer Hikes in a pandemic

In the spring newsletter, I announced that, in the interest of community health, all summer in-person group events were cancelled and that new ways of engaging our community with protected lands were in the works. 

In the early days of working from home, I placed a sticky note on the wall  that says, “Foster Resilience.” It reminds me that each action I/UPLC takes today forms the world of tomorrow, a reminder that every step I/UPLC takes  needs to be well-supported and especially –  FLEXIBLE….after a month of re-imagining a summer, well – here it is, folks! The first announcement of:

UPLC’s Summer of Virtual Hikes!

First off, I’d like to introduce you to “RAMBLIN’ with ROSIE” virtual hikes with UPLC volunteer Jo and her faithful companion, Rosie! In Episode One, Jo and Rosie introduce us to a local floral favorite: the Pink Lady Slipper Orchid at the Chocolay Bayou Nature Preserve. Check it out!

Ramblin’ with Rosie – Episode 1: The Pink Lady Slipper at the Chocolay Bayou Nature Preserve

Friendly reminder that leashed pets are welcome at the Chocolay Bayou, but some nature preserves owned by UPLC (Like the Vielmetti-Peters Reserve) do *not* allow pets in order to protect certain animals who call the preserve home. Please check on the rules of the individual preserve before you bring your pets, and remember to always clean up after them so that the hike is pleasant and poo-free for the next hiker.


Birding 101 with Tom Noren

Join local birding expert Tom Noren on an introductory hike through the Chocolay Bayou Nature Preserve to talk about the colorful, complex, and LOUD migrating warblers who rely on the nature preserve as a place to rest, feed, and breed on their long seasonal journey. The video will be complimented with this birding guide put together by Tom to teach you the basic birds of the Bayou. Keep an eye out for the birding video on our social media and in the (virtual) events page on the website soon!

Have a good subject idea for another virtual “hike with an expert?” Know someone who would be willing to let me follow them around with my phone while they talk about something they love about one of our preserves? Shoot me an email!

Coming in July:

State-Wide BIO BLITZ!

A WHAT? Where? How…?

A bio-blitz! Traditionally, bio-blitzes are 24-hour events where we pull in as many community members as we can to document every instance of every plant, insect, animal, fungus, bird, etc. that can be seen in every corner of a particular preserve. This gives us a “snapshot” idea of what the preserve may look like at any given time and it helps us understand how to best manage the particular area…well, the *resilient* 2020-version of the bio blitz will not involve a large group of people sharing field equipment – nope, this one you can do on your own time, at the site of your choosing, using an app, and guided with a month-long series of webinars. Wow!

In partnership with Michigan State University’s UP Extension Offices and the iNaturalist app, several conservation organizations across the state are encouraging people to get outside, explore protected places over the month of July, learn about the natural world around them, and help promote healthy, biodiverse natural places simply by contributing to the knowledge base of what’s where. The preserves we are focusing on are: The Chocolay Bayou, Tory’s Woods, Vielmetti-Peters, and Peshekee Headwaters Nature Preserve.

Registration will be free and is coming soon! MSUE and UPLC will host a series of webinars that include how to use iNaturalist (and how to contribute without the app, too!), how to identify common plants and animal signs, and more!

Resilient landscapes, (resilient programming), resilient communities.


New Position: Lands Program Manager

We are excited to announce that we are looking to grow our team by bringing on a Lands Program Manager.

If you are a motivated self-starter with excellent science and communication skills, a passion for protecting land, and a desire to grow with us, then we would love to hear from you!

To learn more about this position, read the full position description here. Please send your cover letter and resume to by April 19th.


Gearing up with Citizen-Powered Science

by: Adina Daar

Our theme this season is ‘Involvement’. As a Land Conservancy, there are many ways people are involved with our organization; from donating funds, volunteering time, serving as a member on our board, to attending and participating in our events. Involvement comes in many forms!

Did you know that there are also ways to be involved while doing what you love outdoors; hiking, fishing, birdwatching – all while contributing to ecological knowledge about the area?

It’s called Citizen Science and it’s an ever-growing area propelled by technological advancements that have put powerful scientific tools in our pockets and at our fingertips!

Pairing public interest and time with organizations like ours and other research communities, this new frontier of people-powered research amplifies the speed, consistency, and accuracy of findings. It can also be a fun way to engage with a community around shared interests, all the while contributing back to the places that we hold near and dear.

Interest piqued? We hope so!

Here are five of our favorite digital tools you can use while contributing to ecological research and conservation projects – in the UP and beyond!

Merlin: For the Bird Curious

For those just dabbling (#birdword!) in the world of birding – Merlin is a useful app that both helps identify a bird you see and contributes to national bird monitoring data.

With around 399 species of birds in the Upper Peninsula and with hundreds of thousands of miles of protected forest and wetlands  – it should come as no surprise that birds love it here and so do people who love birds!

Screenshots from Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Lab of Ornithology for Android

Developed by the Cornell School of Ornithology and launched in 2014, The Merlin Bird App guides bird spotters through a series of five questions (location, date, size, color, and context) and then curates a visual list of possibilities which can then be further explored and confirmed. Each bird has pictures, sound clips, and a natural history write-up – lots of juicy details! Users can also download local databases tailored to different US regions to improve accuracy.

Alternatively, you can also snap a photo of a bird and let the Merlin database look for a visual match which is a pretty handy feature.

With Citizen Science powered by Merlin, researchers have been able to track migratory patterns of many avian species and record sightings in different areas as climates change shifts some breeding and migratory routes. It is both a wonderful learning tool and a simple way to be involved in furthering local bird surveys and knowledge for the wider community.

Download Merlin for Apple here and Android here

*Bonus Level “UP”*eBird: for committed Twitchers

The Merlin app is powered by over 500 million observations from a related app called eBird. Also produced and managed through the Cornell School of Ornithology, eBird is the expert version of the app for serious bird watchers who are already proficient at species identification and want to contribute to the growing database. The eBird app is a tool specifically for recording and noting bird sightings; equipped with checklists, a ‘Record as you go’ feature, and full offline mode. It’s a wonderful digital companion for birding trips with a large community of users and ongoing support.

Screenshots from eBird by Cornell Lab of Ornithology for Android

Available for download for Apple here and Android here

Litterati: For those who hate litter (who doesn’t?!)

Is there anything more infuriating than walking along the beach and finding litter strewn about? In some places, heroes don’t don capes, they carry out trash and use an app called ‘Litterati’.

Litterati started out as a way for California resident (and University of Michigan grad!), Jeff Kirschner to vent about offending litter in his community. He would upload pictures of his litter findings on Instagram along with the hashtag #Litterati. It has since grown into a worldwide movement of people who identify, map, and collect the world’s litter in pursuit of ‘Litter free world’.  

Images from and Litterati App for Android

It’s simple. See litter, snap a picture, pick it up. Once back home, tag the pictures with identifiers like the type, materials, and a brand if obvious. This all gets saved into a database and onto a map. The visual data serves as viable proof that has been used to hold companies, brands, and other groups accountable for litter in communities.

The now-famous example of how San Francisco doubled a tax on tobacco companies using a mass of Litterati data as evidence is the stuff of legends and also reality. One community used Litterati to encourage Taco Bell to change a sauce packet policy after residents had documented just how many unopened packets were strewn around public parks near Taco Bell storefronts.

‘Picker UPpers’ Club on Litterati

It’s refreshing to find that most people in Marquette are respectful and go to great efforts to prevent litter. Still, it’s nice to know that this app is here if you do come across an offending pile while out walking a trail. And if you find litter on our properties – we certainly want to know so we can encourage more Leave No Trace practices and distribute better information and resources about how to interact with natural areas.

And Litterati is global! So if visiting somewhere else where litter seems to be an issue, it’s a spontaneous way to lend a hand and make sure it is noticed.

Check out founder Jeff Kirschner’s inspiring TedTalk here and get started snapping that trash at We have a local club called ‘Picker UPpers’ which you can find in the ‘Clubs’ section of the app – please join us and log your litter finds!

Download Litterati for Apple or Android

Great Lakes Fish Finder: For Fin A-fish-ionados!  

It’s no secret that the Great Lakes are home to an interesting and diverse bunch of aquatic wildlife. Those who fish and live on lakes and waterways have a personal and ongoing relationship with wildlife that has proven invaluable in monitoring and ensuring the health of water ecosystems.

A joint initiative between the Shedd Aquarium (in Chicago), The California Academy of Sciences, and National Geographic, this app has proven itself a welcome companion for many anglers – it is both useful as a field guide for identification and for contributing data to scientists who monitor lake health and fish populations.

Screenshot from

Important to note, this app is not about helping people find the best fishing spots or anything like that! You don’t have to give your secret spot away if you use the app. It’s about logging catches, conditions, and connecting to others in the fishing community. Users can publish their observations to a community for identification or public view if desired.

While not the most utilized or frequented project on this list (UP representation is certainly lacking) it’s is a resource that is there if you so choose to explore it! We’d love to see more information collected about the fish whose habitat is affected by the lands we protect.

Download Great Lake Fish Finder for Apple or Android

iNaturalist: for everyone everywhere – alone or in a group!

iNaturalist is probably one of the most well-known and used programs when it comes to documenting natural sightings and sharing with a broader community. It is the skeletal structure of many other programs (including Fish Finder above).

You can pull up a map of just about any location and you’ll find thousands of sightings of all sorts of wildlife including plants, insects, birds, and larger animals!

Here’s a look at the app through a sighting from the Tory’s Woods Preserve:

Screenshots of Marquette Observations from iNaturalist for Android

Users can snap or upload photos and then ask for identification – or jump on and help identify through pictures that others have already uploaded. One of the really cool aspects of iNaturalist are the projects and community events – which range from personal garden explorations (I’ve heard of people using it to identify what is growing in community accessible plots) to what are known as a ‘Bio-blitz’ – when a whole bunch of people get together to document and identify as much as possible in a short period of time at a specific place.

Shout out to the top 5 UP resident observers: Nate Martineau, Mcaple, Rob Routledge, Joseph Kurtz and Will Van Hemessen who collectively have made over 29,000 observations of 8,800+ species and helped confirm and identify over 145,000 other observations by others in our area. We hope many others will join in to contribute to this already very healthy and growing ecosystem of nature sightings!

Download iNaturalist for Apple and Android

Zooniverse: The Mother Ship

Zooniverse is an ingenious website that hosts a wide array of citizen science projects covering a breadth of topics: from science and history to art and mathematics. Each initiative is set up as fun ‘Projects’ that are designed in creative ways to make sorting through lots of data points fun and useful. It is the largest Citizen Science platform in the world with over 1.7 million individual users and growing.

Zooniverse also has a DIY section where you can build your own project. So if you have data that needs to be classified or you could use some help sorting through and digitizing archives – it could be a great place to start.

It’s really best to dive straight-in and play around to get a feel for how the site works.

Here are a couple of our favorite projects for you to check out:

Michigan ZoomIN: Help researchers at the University of Michigan classify photos from remote cameras to better understand the distribution of wild animals. One of their research locations is here in the UP at the Huron Mountain Club – which means you also get a peek into the Club!


Unearthing Michigan Ecological Data’: This is part of a program to digitize over a century of hand-collected data from the Biological Research Station at Douglas Lake in Northern Michigan. Historical data is helpful in that it provides documentation of changes over time – and is very powerful when combined with current data. Through this project, you can help to digitize the universities reports, research, and documents. If you are the kind of person that finds themselves drawn to dusty boxes of records, and delights in exploring the way things were done in the past – this project might be especially exciting 😀

Screenshot from

We looked up ‘Lepomis gibbosus’ – these are Pumpkinseed Fish fins!

‘Whales as Individuals’: Need a break? We recommend this project where helpful citizens can outline and help identify individual Whales from the many photos of their flukes. It serves as both a really easy and relaxing brain break in the name of science 🙂

Image from

What about a UP Land Conservancy project on Zooniverse?!? Oh don’t worry, it’s coming. And we’ll for sure let you know once we’ve got it running.

There you have it! Let’s science together 🙂

At the Upper Peninsula Land Conservancy, we feel honored to be in service to and entrusted by a community that is engaged and interested in wildlife and habitat. What happens in the UP is inextricably connected to what happens in other parts of the country and the world – so whether ID-ing birds to better understand migration changes, identifying a species of plant that wasn’t here 15 years ago, contributing to the knowledge of local fish populations, or perhaps spotting that ever elusive Mountain Lion taking a selfie with a trail camera  – it makes a difference to us! We hope these tools continue to feed your curiosity, involvement, and contribution to protecting land today for life tomorrow!

What’s your favorite way to get involved? Let us know your experiences with these or other Citizen Science platforms in the comments!

Staff Highlight: Meet Adina

We’re delighted to welcome a new member to our growing team!

Adina Daar

UPLC Role: 
Office Manager

Melbourne, FL

Curious, Enthusiastic, Kind

Favorite Quote:
“A lifetime can be spent in a Magellanic voyage around the trunk of a single tree.”
– E.O. Wilson

Tell us a little bit about your background:
I grew up in Melbourne Florida – exploring the Swamps and Pine Forests as a child. Eventually I went on to study at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, where I received a BA in Sociology in 2008. From there, I worked in Market Research, travelling the world to study humans and helping companies develop consumer products and services.

In 2015, I heard about an approach to solving problems that looks to nature for inspiration called ‘Biomimicry’ – it was a wake-up call for me to re-cultivate the curiosity and love for nature that I held as a child. I went on to train as a wilderness guide and naturalist, and to completing a MSc in Biomimicry from Arizona State University in 2017. I’ve been looking to plants, animals, and ecosystems for inspiration to help solve human problems ever since!

I moved to the UP in 2018 and immediately fell in with the Land Conservancy – attending events and trying to get involved in any way, which is how I eventually joined the team.

Why did you want to work for UPLC?
During my studies I had the opportunity to travel to different biomes to understand the challenges and opportunities that many communities face. One aspect that is quickly clear is how interconnected we are and how what happens in one place affects another. Our water, air, food, and well-being are reliant on natural systems that have developed over billions of years. I am inspired by life in the Upper Peninsula and by the communities devotion to protecting place and culture. I am looking forward to being a part of the story by working with the community through UPLC and to supporting the mission of ‘Protecting land today for life tomorrow’.

What do you do at UPLC?
My official title is ‘Office Manager’ which at the moment means many things! We are currently a small team, so many hats are worn and all hands are in. Primarily, I manage the day-to-day operations of UPLC and provide direct support to the Executive Director and Stewardship Manager in their activities. I also like to get out as much as possible – so you’ll find me guiding hikes and helping with events and community initiatives as well.

What do you hope to accomplish in your new role?
UPLC has been through tremendous growth in the past few years – with new properties, projects, and ways to work with the local community. My goal is to support the foundational structure of UPLC through so that we can both maintain and continue to grow in the future. I’m also passionate about working with other community groups towards shared goals and visions for the UP.

Anything else we should know about you? Did I mention Biomimicry already? Yeah, I’m a bit obsessed! I also have a soft spot for insects and marine invertebrates. I do a wonderful Lemur impression. Follow me on instagram @hellohelloIsay to see some insects – a couple below for fun!

Seeking Office Manager

Our dear Jill has been accepted to a doctorate research program in Germany and Argentina and will be leaving us at the end of the year. We are so excited for her incredible opportunity!

This means that we are looking to hire a new office manager!

To apply for this part time, hourly position, read the full position description here and send a cover letter and resume to by January 6th.



Adopt-an-acre program: Protecting the UP one acre at a time

How much is an acre worth?

It seems a simple question, but in reality it is a multifaceted concept! Economists, environmentalists, and real estate agents all have different ways of addressing this topic, but the answer remains elusive and subjective. One possible way to answer this question is to ask the living creatures. A single acre of Upper Peninsula land might support four breeding pairs of tiny ruby-throated hummingbirds. An acre of cobbled lakeshore can be the territory of an endangered piping plover pair. An acre of healthy forest can support between 40 and 60 mature trees, which provide shelter and food resources for dozens of species. And this is to say nothing of the millions of insects and dozens of mushroom species that can all co-exist on a single acre.

Of course, as John Muir wrote, “when we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” Clearly, the value of an acre is more than its individual species or parts. Ecosystems are created by the complex and ever-changing relationships between and among species (including humans!), climates, and geographies. These interwoven relationships drive everything from food chains to nutrient and water cycles, and they support all life on Earth. How can we begin to place a value on that?

Perhaps, then, the answer lies here: What is an acre of land worth to you? What is it worth to you to stand on the shore of an inland lake, or breathe the scent of rich humus during a hike? What is the worth of seeing a carpet of spring beauties, or the shy bloom of a nodding trillium, or the flicker of a scarlet tanager high up in a mature forest? What is the value of sharing these experiences with someone you love?

All of these additional questions point to one thing – the worth of an acre can’t really be put into words. Like a precious gemstone, the true beauty and value of an acre comes from appreciating all of these facets as part of the whole. An acre is worth more than the individual creatures that live within it, or the relationships among those individuals. It’s worth more than our individual emotional connection to the landscape. Its value is a synthesis of all these things and more – something greater than the sum of its individual parts.



The value of protecting acres

Although it’s nearly impossible to assign a definitive value to an acre, it is clear that acres are worth protecting. To further quote John Muir, “there is not a “fragment” in all nature, for every relative fragment of one thing is a full harmonious unit in itself.” The interconnected habitats of the Upper Peninsula are incredibly diverse: peat bogs, cobbled lakeshore, hardwood forests, and granite balds – all in addition to our 11,000 inland lakes. Upper Peninsula Land Conservancy’s conservation properties protect an astonishing amount of this diversity, and a single 40-acre parcel may host as many as 8 different habitat types!

The UP’s most well-known habitat is forests, which inhabit over 84% of the land area, so let’s dive to greater depths by exploring the value of forests.

Most of our forests are quite young, due to the logging boom in the late 1800s. Young forests, like those that grow up after sustainable timber harvests, are critical habitat for many fauna: American woodcock, cottontail,  bobcat, and wood turtles are just a few of the species that require young forests. Some of Michigan’s endangered bird species, like golden-winged warblers and Kirtland’s warblers, nest almost exclusively in young and shrubby forest habitats.

Old-growth forests are famously valuable ecosystems, given their diverse biological resources and physical structure characteristics. Old growth is rare in Michigan due to the logging boom, but remaining pockets do exist, especially in places that were difficult to access for harvesting. Some pockets of forest with old-growth characteristics can be found on UPLC properties, like Norwood Lake Reserve and Mt. Benison Conservation Easement. By protecting old-growth forest, we are protecting our historical legacy.

The really great news is that although old growth forests are currently rare in Michigan, it doesn’t mean they have to stay that way! Hardwood forests in the eastern US can develop old-growth characteristics within just a few generations of trees, or approximately 150-500 years depending on the species. UPLC is a land trust that pledges to protect land in perpetuity. Protecting younger forests today will encourage them to regain their old-growth status. By adopting an acre of young forest, you’re investing in our present and providing hope our future.

Of course, the healthiest ecosystems are those with the greatest diversity, and we’re not just talking about species. A mosaic of interconnected diverse habitats – from old growth to new – that each have diverse age classes and three-dimensional structure will benefit a broad range of critters.  Every single acre that you help us protect is important, both on its own and as part of the bigger picture.



What is the Adopt-an-Acre program?

UPLC currently protects over 6,000 acres, and the cost to protect each individual acre is about $30 per year. UPLC has an ongoing fundraiser called Adopt an Acre, which is a year-round fundraiser. By adopting an acre in 2019, you are helping to secure our future. Adopting acres is a symbolic gesture that shows you are as committed to protecting land as we are.

For each acre you adopt ($30 each), we will send you a personalized certificate with the location of the acre(s) and your name (or the name of someone you’d like to honor). We will also put your name on our website’s interactive map! If you adopt at least 40 acres, a representative for UPLC will personally hike out with you next summer to visit your sponsored acres.


How will my donation help the UP?

We use adopt-an-acre for every aspect of our operations: on-the-ground projects (trail building and interpretive signs), annual events and outings to our properties, administration, and project development. UPLC turns 20 years old in 2019, a milestone that will come with a few growing pains as we try to expand our operations. We’re especially looking forward to hiring an additional permanent staff person, and to move forward with a couple of exciting new conservation projects. Keep an eye on our website and social media for future updates!

Ready to adopt your acres for 2019? Click the button below:


Please note that all online donations are handled through PayPal, but you do not need to have (or create) a PayPal account in order to donate. Simply follow the link and click “Donate with a Debit or Credit card” to use this option. If you prefer to use an offline payment method, you are also welcome to pay by check or cash sent to Upper Peninsula Land Conservancy, 2208 US-41 S, Marquette MI 49855.