Posts Tagged ‘nature’

Finding something new in a familiar place.

Monday, October 21st, 2019

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. 

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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”

Friday, September 6th, 2019

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.

Gearing up with Citizen-Powered Science

Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

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!

Only $1500 (and some change) To Go!

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

Chocolay Bayou Calendar2016-3 copyYup, you read that right. With the help of partnering organizations and donors, we’ve already raised $152,468 towards our goal of $154,000 to purchase the Chocolay Bayou Preserve – and we only have $1,532 to go!

Recreational opportunities abound at the 14-acre Bayou Preserve, which is ideally situated along the banks of the Chocolay River. From birding, fishing, and paddling, the Bayou has offered the community excellent outdoor recreation throughout the years, and the property even borders major hiking and biking trails, providing access to the Iron Ore Heritage and North Country National Scenic trails!

The final purchase of the property will preserve these activities for the community in perpetuity. In other words, FOREVER!

But, we still need your help. The Bayou – and all the outdoor activities the community has come to enjoy on the property – is in threat of development. We only have until May 9 to raise the remaining $1,532 to purchase the property and protect a popular outdoor recreation area for the community.

In addition, we need $20,000 to help maintain the Preserve once it’s purchased. This additional funding will also be used to expand public access, build an interpretive trail and wetland boardwalk, and also build benches throughout the property.Chocolay Bayou Calendar2016-1 copy

With your help, we can do this! We currently have a CrowdRise funding campaign to raise the remaining $1532 purchasing price by May 9. To make a donation, please see the Save The Chocolay Bayou! and help preserve this cherished outdoor recreation area today.

For more information, please contact Andrea Denham, Assistant Director of the Upper Peninsula Land Conservancy at (906) 225-8067 or


We want to thank our partners for their continued support in making the Chocolay Bayou Preserve a reality:

Bayou Bar and Grill

Cedar Tree Institute

Chocolay Raptor Center

Chocolay River Brewery

Chocolay Township

Ducks Unlimited

Hiawatha Water Trail

Hirvonen Foundation

Iron Ore Heritage Trail

Keweenaw Bay Indian Community

Lakewood Cottagers Association

Laughing Whitefish Audubon Society

Marquette County Resource Management Dept.

Marquette County Conservation District

North Country Trail Hikers


The Nature Conservancy

Trout Unlimited

Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition

Upper Peninsula Land Conservancy

Upper Peninsula Resource Conservation & Development Council

US Fish and Wildlife Service