Use of the Forest

Public use of Saginaw Forest is encouraged. Rules for the public's use include (but are not limited to):

Thursday, December 31, 2009

A gift to Saginaw Forest preservation

There is a story from The University of Michigan's Philanthropy Network about a gift to preserve Saginaw Forest:

More than 100 years ago, lumberman and Michigan Regent Arthur Hill and his wife, Louise, made a gift of dirt, trees and water to the U-M in the form of a rural, 80-acre tract five miles west of the Ann Arbor campus. Named Saginaw Forest after the Hills’ hometown, it has long served as a living classroom and research resource for the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE).

The M. Jerome Rieger Saginaw Forest Enrichment Fund, created through a $250,000 gift from Bedford, New York’s Richard O. Rieger (AB ’79) to honor his father (AB ’40, MBA ’41), will bolster the impact of the Hills’ early philanthropy by helping implement a new SNRE stewardship plan for the Forest. Supported by Ann Arbor’s Debby McMullen, the study examines the Forest’s continued use for graduate education and research as well as new possibilities for K-12 environmental education programs and nature-based recreation for the public. Saginaw Forest features 55 acres of woodlands planted between 1904 and 1937, Third Sister Lake and surrounding wetlands.

Richard Rieger said his gift reflects his father’s passion for the woods. An ardent student of trees, the elder Rieger possessed an uncanny ability to identify an enormous range of species, even in Latin.

“He’d walk down the street and tell you the names of every tree,” his son said. “Even though he was told (forestry) was not a good professional pursuit, he pursued it in his leisure. It was a lifelong love.

“He had so many interests, and the University of Michigan really nurtured them. His Michigan experience really opened his eyes.”

A reference

In a blurb at the Ann Arbor Chronicle, one of the staff writers points readers to my previous post about parking near Saginaw Forest. Only a blurb, but it's something.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009

Small blizzard

A ten-minute blizzard fell on Saginaw Forest. I went outside to video some of it:

The view to Third Sister Lake was almost obscured at times:
Blizzard obscuring the view of the lake

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Parking at Saginaw Forest

UPDATE: The short version.

There is no legal parking at Saginaw Forest. Parking anywhere in the front gate area is not permitted (which is why there are "NO PARKING" signs there), even if it isn't directly in front of the gate. (Do read the signs -- they indicate a total lack of legal parking at the main entrance to the forest.) If a vehicle is found to be parking there, DPS will be called, a ticket will be issued, and the vehicle may be towed. Additionally, parking anywhere along Liberty Road is also not permitted, and if a vehicle is found there, the University of Michigan Department of Public Safety will be called, and the vehicle will be ticketed, and likely towed.

Where should a person park?
Street parking is permitted on Westview Way, which is 400 feet west of the main entrance to Saginaw Forest. This is the closest legal place to park. Some people do use parking at the Liberty Business Plaza, located immediately east of Saginaw Forest, but since the parking in these lots is for users of those businesses, any vehicles parked there may be towed. Furthermore, parking at the PALL parking lots is strictly enforced by a security team for that property. After one warning, your vehicle will be towed (their security team keeps a log of license plates).

Saginaw Forest is not a public park and is not maintained as one. It is a research facility, and access to this facility is maintained for classes, researchers, public safety officers, and the caretaker. Although public use of the facility is welcome from 6am - 6pm, all non-official users must find other legal means of entering the facility, or be prepared to accept the consequences of not doing so. If you wish to use a forested park, Dolph Park is located nearby, and is 57 acres of trails, hills, and water all managed by the city of Ann Arbor for the public. There is even a conveniently located parking area for this nature park on Wagner Road as well as street parking on the east side of the park near Parklake and Lakewood.

UPDATE: New signs have been posted (at windshield level) indicating that all of the main entrance is a no-parking zone. If you are reading this because you saw the sign, thank you for being considerate of the proper use of this research facility.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Water flowing over frozen lake

The downpour and snowmelt over the night and this morning have led to a lot of runoff flowing into the creek ... and over the top of the ice-over Third Sister Lake.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Ice fishing

Found two people fishing through the ice when I walked outside this morning. No research permit, so I asked them to pack it up, which they did with a minimum of fuss. DPS says to just give them a call next time. I suppose the ice is thick enough to walk on now...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Another dog off leash -- why are owners like that?

As I was leaving the forest today, I noticed a doberman off-leash. Two men were walking, and I told them that they had to put their dog on its leash. ... the owner grumbled about it, and I told him that this wasn't a dog park, and they can't let their dog run off its leash. "No one lives here anyway," the guy yells at me.

"What? Are you calling me no one?"

"Fuck you!"

Alright, I got a little ticked off at that, and stormed over to him, and then decided to just call the DPS. I reported the two of them and went off on my morning. However, that got me wondering again why dog owners feel that they are entitled to flout the rules and then get annoyed when they are told that they have to actually follow the rules. I mean, where do they think they get off? Most of them know the rules of Saginaw Forest, one of which includes dogs must be kept on leash. I don't know who you are. I don't know your dog. If your dog is in the forest, it must be on its leash. If you aren't holding it, then it's not "on-leash."

Most people will just pick up the leash or immediately put the dog on its leash. However, there are some owners who just hold on to their dog and wait until you pass, as if that's somehow following the rules. Nope. Sorry. You're still breaking the rules.

If I were to come to your property, then I would be expected to follow your rules - so long as they are legal - or decide not to go there. If you tell me to follow the rules, or yell at me for following a rule that I knew about and decided not to follow, then it's my fault, and I have no right to get angry with you. Similarly, when you are in Saginaw Forest and aren't following the rules, don't get angry at those who tell you to shape up and follow the rules that everyone else has to follow. They aren't the assholes and fuckers for telling you to get back in line.

Solstice Winter

Snow-covered barn
Solstice! And we got a little more snow overnight.

Happy Solstice everyone!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Power still on in cabin, even though it's out across the west end of Ann Arbor

I arrived home to find the power still on. (Yay!) However, that isn't the case presently on the far western side of Ann Arbor. No trees downed on my ride in, either. However, since I came in from the side of the forest -- because I didn't want to continue cycling into heavy gusts of wind along Liberty Road -- I can't say that this is the case along the main road down to the cabin. I'll be checking that out tomorrow morning.

Wet snow in the morning

At some point last night, snow began to fall, but as the night progressed, the temperature slowly climbed and at about 1AM, I heard several dull thuds on the roof of the cabin as slush sloughed off the trees, hitting the roof. At first I thought it was squirrels running across the roof, but then realized that it wasn't so rhythmic as would be expected by squirrels, turned over, and went to sleep.

This morning, I awoke to a scene of a thin layer of wet snow covering the area. However, due to its consistency, the trees had returned to their uncovered state.

Cabin with snow

Friday, December 4, 2009

Gas delivery

Gas deliveryThe gas delivery truck came this morning and delivered a top-up on the gas for the cabin. Thanks to the mild October and November, I hadn't had to turn on the furnace until a few weeks ago. So... not as much of an input as last year's was likely to have been.

A while back, I had a good idea of constructing some window inserts to fake double-glaze them for insulation purposes. I'm thinking two panes of plexiglass sandwiched between plys of a frame. Hopefully with that construction, I will be able to minimize the amount of heat-loss through the windows. Presently, the single-pane windows don't have too much in the way of caulking... And the weatherstripping around some of them haven't been replaced since I moved in.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

First snow

The first snow of the season fell today -- a mere dusting, and quite late in the season...

Dusting of snow

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Hunters near Saginaw Forest

Walking through the forest today I heard gunfire. "Hmm...," I thought. "I hope that isn't happening in the forest. There are many people walking around in the unseasonably warm weather."

I walked the paths and perimeter of the forest and didn't see anyone dressed up as a hunter, although I did hear more gunfire to the south of the property, and it sounded like they were shooting either in or near the Nie funeral home property. Although the people at DPS told me that there is nothing that they can do about any of it unless people com into Saginaw Forest, it's a little disconcerting to hear gunfire so nearby.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Engineers in the forest

Last night, engineering students came to the forest to sing songs around the campfire. At some time after 9:30, several vehicles drove into the forest, disgorged engineering students, and -- after a little ceremony -- chanting and singing could be heard in the cabin. Later, they all left, tire tracks in the grass the only evidence, other than a sheaf of papers with lyrics, that they were here.

Still, the idea of engineering students standing around the campfire, singing songs, and watching a fire seems a little more visceral to human nature than at least I would have thought of engineers. (Of course, the idea of a stereotype is that it is an extreme example of the type, so I don't know why it is so surprising.) As far as I could tell, though, the event was supported solely by Prof. W., so maybe it is because of him that this tradition continues at all.

Prof. W. did come out here in February, a month after I started my residence here to conduct the same activity. I expect that he will be out here in the winter again to do the ceremony once more, although it will be much colder at that time, and he will likely need to burn through some of the snow to get to the piled ashes below.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Major leaf fall

Autumn morning 2009-10-28
Wow! I come back from a conference and it seems like most of the trees have dropped their leaves! The work necessary to clear branches and leaves and other autumnal debris begins...

Birds at the feeder

FeederPut up some bird feeders next to the cabin, and already there have been several birds paying it a visit.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Updating past log entries: 1989

Updated the past caretaker log entries from August and September of 1989. Interestingly, there was an entry about the developers next door (to the east) offering "to move the berm and dam .. and contain erosion," something that the current Stream Restoration class is looking at in their work here.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Trees turning

A walk in the woods

Yet another autumn in Saginaw Forest - although it is my first - brings a reddening of the leaves. This maple, half-toppled by a fallen tree - has a nice color gradient that shows the panoply of colors seen in other parts of the forest.

Chopping wood

Wood in the boat

A few weekends ago, a large tree fell across the path on the north side of the lake. Today I finished chopping up that tree (and the maple that got snapped when it fell) and brought some wood back to the south side of the lake for firewood using a boat.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Rain overnight = water in the creek

Overnight rain of about 0.25 inches means that there is now flow in the creek behind the barn. Hopefully, some members of the stream restoration class will be coming out here later today to measure discharge and velocity of water in that creek.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Captured mouse

Captured mouse
I captured this little mouse the other day. This guy was the third one that I caught manually, in addition to the two other ones that encountered mousetraps. The mice have started to come out more now than in the summer. Why? I don't know. Maybe they have started to come out of the woodwork, since their summer supply of food is gone, or perhaps they have found a way in from the outside... (I really hope it's not this latter possibility.)

What is amazing about the three mice that I captured was that they didn't really know to run away from me, and running around during the day, or while the lights were on.. This little bugger was scurrying around, but  I wasn't able to actually capture him until I realized that he was climbing up the curtains (I didn't know they could do that). He was previously trying to climb up the front of the fireplace stones, but fell off and scurried away once he saw me come.

The days are getting colder, but I hope that this change doesn't mean that there will be more mice coming in to make a nest. Of course, I filled in many of the cracks upstairs with "Great Stuff" - a foam insulation product that one can spray into small voids. There are some places in the roof where previous mice have taken out the insulation in order to build nests in the wall. I'll have to fill in these voids, too, methinks.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Cool and misty morning

Reflected shore
The morning of October 1, and there is a world of frozen dew and mist on the water. It's actually kinda cold outside, not surprising since it is still below freezing. Is the sound of Jackson Road and I-94 actually getting louder, or is that just what I'm expecting to happen as the leaves continue to fall? I don't actually know...

Last night, I was also wondering if Saginaw Forest is in a flight path for Ann Arbor city airport, because I don't recall hearing so many airplanes when I was living in town. Of course, I can hear a lot more things while living out here, since the background noise level is so much lower than anywhere else that I have lived.

Furnace on and fireplace working

Fireplace heating
The furnace was turned on yesterday and it was great to come back to a house that was warmer than outside. Last night, I also lit a fire in the fireplace, but made the mistake of burning cedar, which (although smells nice) smokes up the place quite a bit. However, I also did burn a couple of Pine Mountain logs that burn clean[er] and bright[er] than cedar. I'll have to figure out some fix for the lack-of-damper situation on the fireplace soon, but for right now, I'm happy.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Former caretakers at the 2009 Campfire

Caretakers from 1957-1959 and now.Last Friday, the School of Natural Resources & Environment held its annual Homecoming Weekend festivities around the Baxter V. Dow campfire circle. These festivities have been going on for almost 100 years, although the campfire circle was built several years after the tradition began. As it was Homecoming, the alumni from the class of 1959 were invited to come celebrate with the current student body and faculty members. Two people in particular that came were inimitably tied with the history of Saginaw Forest: the 1957-1959 caretakers.

When they came inside, the long-married couple were pleasantly surprised to see the updates that had been put in during the 50 years since they occupied the cabin. The stairs that a former caretaker installed to access the loft was something that they had wished they had, since the loft was only used as a storage area while they lived here. Similarly, they didn't have a shower, but had to carry in water from the lake and heat it in a metal tub whenever they wanted to bathe (although he had the option to take a shower at the Union building -- before the CCRB was built!).

Furthermore, the small structure attached to the side of the barn is now explained: it was a dog house that he constructed for their beagle puppy. Next spring, I'll try to excavate that area a little bit more than it is currently, although it will likely mean a difficult mowing process in order to do so.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

SNRE Campfire

Learning the history of Saginaw ForestThis year's SNRE Campfire event was a great event, with over 100 students, alumni, faculty, and staff celebrating the history of the school around the campfire circle, sharing stories with friends, competing in events, and learning a little bit about the history of the school and of Saginaw Forest.

Thanks to Brett Levy for his one-man performance throughout the night. Thanks to the staff of the the Dean's Office and the Office of Academic Programs (OAP) for their behind-the-scenes logistics, specifically to Marie, Erin, and Kim. The night was a rather hectic affair, with me organizing (aka corralling via bellowing) the cross-cut sawing competition, Solomon organizing the wader races, and also with me helping out with showing people around the property.

Sitting around the campfire

I learned several things about the logistics of organizing events out here, and want to be able to use those ideas for next year's event.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Dogs need to be leashed

In a recent opinion piece submitted to, a user of Stinchfield Woods noted that she had been accosted by several dogs off-leash:
On a recent Saturday, I was hiking alone in the University of Michigan's Stinchfield Woods (in Dexter Township) when I was suddenly accosted and surrounded by four large unleashed dogs. No owners were within my sight or hearing. The dogs encircled me so closely I had to stop walking. It wasn’t until I yelled at them to “go away” that a female voice (still not within my sight) called to them.
All dogs must be on leashesThis has been a problem in Saginaw Forest as well. Regardless of what dog owner-users of Stinchfield Woods, Saginaw Forest, or the Nichols Arboretum might think about what the rules of use in these University of Michigan properties actually are, all dogs must be kept on leashes (ignoring signs doesn't mean they don't exist). If the caretaker or anyone else asks dog-walkers to put their dogs on a leash, then that should be done.

I'm sorry if you feel different about your dog or your abilities to control your dog. However, rules is rules. You would expect guests to follow your rules when they visit your property, please do the same here and at other University of Michigan properties. If you do not like the rules, then you can always choose not to use the facility.

Counter to what some people have said about places where they walk their dogs, Saginaw Forest is a research facility, not some "rural" or "woods" area. Dogs off-leash cannot be guaranteed to not become enmeshed in areas used for research.

No, I don't hate dogs. However, I am in charge of enforcing the rules, and these include the "All dogs must be on leashes" rule. It's not personal. If I see your dog off a leash, you will be told that it must be put on leash and asked to leave. If you don't like to be informed that you are breaking the rules, then don't break the rules. It's that simple. If you choose not to put your dog on a leash after you have been asked to do so, then DPS will be called.

Deliveries complete

Straw bales around the campfire circle
Straw bales surround the campfire circle. Hopefully this will be enough for people to be comfortable.

Pumpkins for carving
Pumpkins got delivered early today. They'll be for the pumpkin carving events under the tent.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Setup and deliveries for the campfire

Trash bins
Trash bins. The bungee cords should help minimize the number of critters that can get to the trash...

Two portajohns get delivered; one with wheelchair accessibility.

Logs for cross-cut sawing
Set up two saws for cross-cut sawing competitions. Perhaps we can have a one-person and a two-person competition...

Mowing the lawn one last time before the campfire celebrations tomorrow evening.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cut wood for campfire

Wood cut for annual campfire celebrationsI cut about 1/10 cord of wood from some fallen cedars with the chainsaw. Tomorrow, maybe another 1/10 cord... All for the SNRE campfire on Friday.

(The wood in the wheelbarrow is only one part of the several wheelbarrow-fulls of wood cut.)

Water delivery

Water deliveryman came today with 12 bottles. This will help with the campfire needs this Friday.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

New window latch

New window latchThe old latch on the upstairs window was broken, and - due to facing of the frame being missing - there was a difficulty in putting in a new latch. However, putting one on the bottom corner - where the frame and the window were still flush - seems to work adequately enough. I might have to put one on the upper corner as well, though. I'll think about it.

Fuzzy caterpillar

Fuzzy caterpillarIt seems like caterpillars (and spiders, walking sticks, etc) like to climb up screens. Who knows if this one won't be eaten up by spiders like all the others seem to have been.

Changing colors on Third Sister Lake

It's starting! The color-change of autumn. For those people who might come out earlier to the forest for the SNRE campfire Homecoming festivities this Friday might be able to see these colors changing from green to red.

Changing colors on Third Sister Lake

Trapped groundhog

Trapped groundhogOne of the humane traps left out to catch the cats way back in June was still left in the barn. ... And after three months it was finally tripped (or it was actually closed and this guy figured out how to wriggle into a closed trap. Luckily, I was collecting and chopping wood so I was in the barn when this guy started to bang around, alerting me to its presence. When I first entered the barn, I was wearing a t-shirt and sandals, so I took a little time to go get boots, a long-sleeve shirt, and work gloves on (just in case the little bugger wanted to bite me).

I took him out to release him in the woods. His nose was bloodied a bit out of an attempt to chew through the cage, but didn't look much the worse for wear. (Of course, I don't really know what a healthy groundhog looks like up close.) He got quite anxious while I was carrying him outside, although I don't know if that was because it was something familiar or because he was scared at being lifted in a cage during the day (likely some of both, methinks).

It took me a little time to figure out the release mechanism, but once that flap was opened, it only took him to turn around to realize that he was free, and off he went, gallumping through the piles of cut grass, leaves, and groundcover, heading toward one of the groundhog burrows that I knew was nearby.

The humane trap is closed and will remain that way until I need to use it again (i.e., if I see those cats again).

Friday, September 18, 2009

Clearing and mowing lawn

Clearing and mowing lawn
Originally uploaded by umlud

In preparation for the SNRE Campfire (this year on September 25th), I realized that I would have to mow the NW corner of the front lawn of the tall grasses and plants that had been left to grow over the entire spring and summer. After a lot of the dew had evaporated, I mowed this corner to about 5" in height, cleared the cuttings, and then mowed the entire lawn down to about 1.5". Total time: 4 hrs.

Walking through Saginaw Forest

Walking through Saginaw Forest
Originally uploaded by umlud

Prof. Aline Cotel's stream restoration class came out to Saginaw Forest to look at the problems plaguing the stream. Her class will be working out at the forest to measure the timing and impact of flooding flows (and erosion) in the creek. They will also be installing passive monitoring technologies in order to assess a "current condition" as well as continuously assess the impacts of restoration measures.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fixed mower

Last week, I found that the fuel line for the Toro mower was nicked, causing fuel to spill out as I filled the tank. (Damn.) I don't know if it was due to rodents or decay, but yesterday I fixed it by splicing in a section. Mower works fine, and the lawn was mowed in order for the PhD potluck this Saturday evening.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Updating past log entries

I've added a few more log entries from 1986. As it turns out, it's more of the same sort of things that are happening (have happened) here during the same times of the year.

If you have some memories or photos of Saginaw Forest from way back when (especially if you were a former caretaker), then please e-mail me and share some of those memories of days past, and with your permission they can be posted on the blog to be shared with others.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Misty morning

Misty morning
Originally uploaded by umlud
Woke up this morning to a misty sunrise. This is one more reason why I love living out here. As the leaves change more and more (although it is rather early to change this year, isn't it?), the photos of misty mornings will likely become more brilliant.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mowed lawn

Mowed lawn
Originally uploaded by umlud
Mowed and raked the grass. Lots of grass. Lots of mowing.

About two hours later, the area with the tall grass is tan... Hopefully it will quickly grow back into green, just because that area right now it looks like a photo of grain country (taken from a plane).

(Am I just dehydrated when I say that, or do I have an active imagination when I'm physically exhausted?)

Clearing the front lawn

Under other conditions, I would normally allow the grass clippings to break down in place, but due to the massive amount of clippings - after all, I chopped it down from 4 or 5 inches down to 1 inch - and also due to the remnants of clippings from the last time I mowed the entire lawn (which cut the grass down from more than a foot - the lawn is a bit patchy. In other words, sometimes the grass clippings are just too thick to allow for a quick enough decomposition to be beneficial to the underlying grass.

What will I do with the clippings I don't really know right now. I'm drawing it onto the drive to dry out as much as possible, and I'll probably use it as mulch for other places on the property.

Discussion of Saginaw Forest plan

This morning there was a visit to Saginaw Forest to go over some options of teaching and management of the forest. In the upcoming years, I hope that there will be an increased interest in using the property for teaching a variety of courses among the various schools and departments at the university.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cabin window

Cabin window
Originally uploaded by umlud
Over the years, the windows have been painted and repainted. The latches have - therefore - become difficult to close and open due to paint buildup.

I took off a broken latch -- will replace with something later -- and cleaned off the paint buildup from the remaining latches. Now it's a lot easier to open the windows when I want to, and close them a lot more securely, too!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mowed the yard

Mowed the yard all the way down to 1". I raked up about 1/5 of the total cut grass. Lots (and lots) of cut grass that needs still needs to be cleared up, but I don't think I'll burn the rest... Burning grass is VERY smoky. Perhaps they can act as good mulch somewhere other than on the lawn (blocking the sun).

Monday, August 24, 2009

Carry water, chop wood (well, at least I only need do one of those two)

Just as one part of an old saying goes, I'm chopping wood. Thanks to the thinning project that is currently going on in the forest, there is a lot of timber that can be chopped up for the upcoming winter.

In order to chop it, though, takes some doing, especially with the hardwoods (urgh!). Luckily, I was able to take the axe into town to get it sharpened. Now it cuts the softwood easily. I think I will have to find the wedges in order to cut open the thicker pieces of hardwood, though.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Third Sister Lake in the morning after a rain

The rains from Saturday and early this morning made for a nice morning on Third Sister Lake.

On my way out of the forest, I noticed that the wind and rain forced a black maple down across the east trail, necessitating me to return to the barn, pull out one of the pole-saws, and fell that tree completely.

Since that particular tree was only fifty or so yards away from the clearing, I dragged it back in order to chop it into firewood. It currently is lying in front of the barn, looking exactly like what it is: 20-odd feet of maple tree that was dragged through the forest.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tree trimming

A tree trimming company has been hired by the School of Natural Resources and Environment to cut down the dead and leaning trees in the forest. This work will continue on and off for about three weeks. Before/after photos to come...

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Mowed pathways

Mowed pathways
Originally uploaded by umlud
Mowed the front lawn again today. It's amazing how quick this grass grows in. In order to minimize on the amount of mowing that I do, though, at the beginning of the summer, I chose to only mow paths through the grass. I cut most of the lawn back in mid-July, since it was getting quite thick and the grass was starting to lie down. However, by the end of this month, I think that there will be enough time for a nice height of grass to grow.

Small frogs in the grass

Small frog
Originally uploaded by umlud
I believe that this is a small wood frog. Prof. Berven of Oakland University has been studying the population dynamics of the frogs in the pond next to the caretaker's cottage for the past 20+ years. Maybe this little guy will make it into his survey next year... The populations of amphibians in the frog pond don't seem to be on the decline, and based on the number of these guys roaming around in the tall grass, I hope they won't be declining in the forest in the future.

Toad climbed into the cabin

Toad climbed into the cabin
Originally uploaded by umlud
I found another toad in the cabin. Methinks that they are climbing down the chimney... I don't think that there is a hole in the wall or something like that -- but I also placed mousetraps around the cabin to minimize the chance of an infestation of mice that might be making use of a hole that I haven't found.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Site photos of Saginaw Forest

Site photo team
Originally uploaded by umlud
Dr. Kathleen Bergen is leading a GIS project mapping the various properties managed by the School of Natural Resources and Environment.

The site-photo team came out today to take photos of each of the various stands of plantings in the forest.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dug a hole and filled a hole.

Yesterday I noticed that at some point a small campfire ring was dug off one of the trails. From the trail, it was possible to see that there were several empty bottles inside the ring -- their necks pointing outward like a sunburst. Ah, cr@p...

Upon closer examination, the majority of the bottles turned out to be Smirnoff Ice, with a few Mike's Hard Lemonades thrown in, too. No beer, indicating that it might have been highschool students. Underneath the booze-bottle sunburst, a few ashes of paper, leaves, and small branches were in evidence; not a large fire, which is good, because such a fire could have easily caused a much more massive impact on the forest (i.e., a wild conflagration).

Okay... what to do, what to do? Well, I should try (at least) to make the site look undisturbed. However, if I only removed the bottles, the campfire ring would remain. The sandy soil had been scattered about, meaning that if I tried to fill in the hole using the surrounding soil, it would be obvious that something was done in the area. Ah, but there was a lot of sand that got eroded out along the main road. Maybe if I dug some of that up, moved it to this campfire ring, and used it here, there would be less evidence.That was the plan, then: shift sand from one place (the road) to another (the sneaky campfire ring).

I headed back the barn to get my cart in which to collect the bottles, and after collecting the 23 bottles and scattering the stones lining the edge of the ring, went back to fetch a wheelbarrow and shovel.

Digging out a wheelbarrow-full of sand is not too difficult, especially when the sand is erosional deposits, and not tamped down. However, pushing a wheelbarrow fully laden with damp sand up a hill is quite hard work. However, I was determined that I would only do it in one trip. Therefore, I collected possibly more sand than necessary before trudging step by slow Sisyphean step toward the campfire ring.

As I dumped out the sand, I noticed that it was just about enough to actually fill in the ring, and I went about shoveling the sand around to make it more evenly covered. There: first step done. Now the area just looked like a trampled-down area with a scattering of wet sand (which would -- I hoped) dry out quickly. However, I wanted to make the place look "undisturbed". Therefore, I started to collect leaves and other ground litter from around the area. A little pile here of maples, another few handfulls of oak, some decomposing carbon from somewhere else; never too much from one area so as to minimize the appearance of human activity. Then I scattered the leaves, both on the freshly laid sand, as well as around the clearing. I threw in a few long poles of rotting wood to make the area blend in with the rest of the dying and rejuvenating forest.

After only about two hours of work (and what seemed to me like a half-liter of sweat), the area looked, if not "undisturbed", much less obviously impacted to the human eye than before. (At least to this human eye.) To the nose of a dog or to the burrowing capabilities of a groundhog, who knows? However, I hope it does its job.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Saginaw Forest history tidbits

I learned several things this morning from an emeritus professor of the school. One thing is that in 1963 (which I can definitely say that I don't remember), the front lawn of Saginaw Forest was (apparently) drug central in Ann Arbor.

Also, there used to be a light beacon on top of the caretaker's house -- used by the pilots flying in to Willow Run airport in Ypsilanti. Of course, 40 years later, the trees surrounding the caretaker's cottage have likely grown higher, making such a use of less utility.

I learned, too, that when the PALL property used to belong to Gelman, there was an offer to hook up the property to Ann Arbor water and sewage (which would have solved some of the problems we now face with the property). However, the University decided that this was not something on which they wanted to spend social capital. Yet, it is something to remember (the presence of a "nearby" hook-up to A2 water and sewage) if changes take place with the property.

With regards to the bathymetry of Third Sister Lake, I learned that -- typical of kettle lakes, it is cone-shaped, with the deepest point near the middle of the lake, and roughly 45 feet in depth. However, the actual bathymetric maps have (since the time of the survey) been lost; a victim of the years. The relatively recent increased level of sediment transport has likely changed the bathymetry and it would have been really nice to know what it used to be so that we might be able to look at what level of change has taken place over the years.

Finally, I learned that the concrete constructions in the creek are weirs that were used to study discharge from the creek, and weren't built to be flood control devices. However, even if that's the case, the large splash pool that has been made below the bottom weir (the other two being bypassed over the years) does act as a "final" flood control mechanism.

Talking to emeritus professors is so very rewarding in so many ways. It's always wonderful to learn new pieces of information -- so casually inserted into one's understanding -- about a place or concept.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Frog in the cabin

Don't know how it got in, but I just captured a frog in the cabin and set it outside in the night. I wonder how it got in... I don't think I've left the door open for so long, and I haven't seen any relatively easy ways to get through the 2-foot-thick walls... Maybe it was a teleporting frog...


Frog Man done for the season

I bumped into Keith Berven (aka "the Frog Man") on my way into the forest today. He informed me that it would be his last day of the season, and that he would be back in September to set up for the winter.

Having talked to him before about the possibility of migratory locations of the frogs from the frog pond, I knew that he might be interested in the fact that I had found many very small (possibly juvenile) frogs in the tall grass of the front lawn when I went out to cut it back (after returning from vacation). Possibly they were attracted to the grasses because -- when thick and tall -- they can provide shade and relatively wet microclimates at their base. Anyway, he now knows that they might be using that front lawn as well as possibly making their way up the hill above the pond...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Still flowing after >24 hours

Mouth of Creek (2009/06/21)
Originally uploaded by umlud
The creek is still flowing more than 24 hours after the stop of rains. Visually speaking, the discharge this morning wasn't that much lower than yesterday at 6 PM, indicating a potentially large reservoir slowly being flushed...

Looking at an aerial view of the area shows a green "blob" just east of Saginaw Forest. This is where the water is flowing in to the forest, and who knows how much of the parking lots drain into this "blob" of green, and thus into the forest. Furthermore, there are properties south of Liberty Road, the map doesn't show the new construction in the area -- the Nie funeral home and an empty lot with a large retention basin -- that may also be contributing to inflows to Saginaw Forest's creek.

Compared with yesterday morning (when the creek was really kicking through to the lake), though, there is admittedly less sediment.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

One wonders about the total sourcing of the creek's water

Coming back from Solomon's house at 11:30PM, I went by the creek, and it's still running. I wonder exactly how much area this creek is draining, and if it is also draining the properties that are south, across Liberty as well as the Liberty-Wagner business lot. After all, these properties have a large water detention storage, with an overflow... Of course, I don't know if that overflow goes into a storm sewer or if it connects up (going under Liberty Road) with the drains from the Lib-Wag business park, and into the creek here in Saginaw Forest.

I wonder if an experiment with lots and lots of small, semi-bouyant balls and tracking them along their path is feasible. (I'm thinking about a storm-drain equivalent of the rubber-duck open-ocean-current tracking.) If these lots are discharging into a common drain that leads into Saginaw Forest, this could well be a major problem in terms of channel stability here.

Creek still flowing

I just got back from doing laundry, and the stream is still flowing, still a weak milky mixture of sediment and water, but evidently not done with carrying silt toward the lake.

The water flowing from the forest into the Liberty-Wagner business park had stopped flowing, though, although there remains some water standing in the channel of that small outflow.

Sediment transport after large storms

Sediment transport
Originally uploaded by umlud
The creek that flows into Third Sister Lake flows in through a culvert from the property to the southeast. Normally, the creek is dry, but when there is sustained rain, water pours though that culvert and into the creek bed. Likely due to this "flashy" type of discharge, sediment transport through this little creek is quite high.

Last night, there was a major storm that passed over the forest (see video at the end of this post), dumping several inches of rain before passing on some time before 7 AM. I awoke - windows open - to hear what sounded like yet more rain, but it was sunny. Perhaps, then, it was wind in the leaves? No: there was little wind. "Surely," I thought to myself, "it's not the creek?" Going out there, I found that, yes, indeed, it was the creek, carrying a large amount of water and sediment out into the lake, raising the water level of the lake by four or five inches (yes, I waded out into the lake to get a rough estimate of depth on my legs).

Going out at noon, I found that the creek was still running, much diminished. While it was running milk-coffee tan a few hours earlier, it now ran in a watered-down milk white. Still though, after several hours after the rain, the creek's water source had yet to diminish feeding water through the culvert.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Blur of Possum

Blur of Possum
Originally uploaded by umlud
In an attempt to catch the clutch of feral cats, U-M pest management set some humane traps in the barn. However, last night - regardless of the fact that it started raining at some point overnight - none of the cats entered the cages. We did catch a possum, though.

Apparently, though, we weren't enough of a perceived threat to it for it to play dead. Instead, it was looking at us through the cage as it was carried outside, and a few seconds after the cage door was opened, it rushed out of the gate.

I've never seen a possum run, but it is not a very gainly animal. It moves more at something that approximates a very fast walk; even a groundhog can run at a sort of gallop, body flexing up and down as it runs (as opposed to side to side while walking). This guy, though, ran with a side-to-side body movement. If this actually is how possums run, then it is not surprising why they are relatively easy for other animals to catch on the ground.

Anyway, the attempts continue to catch the cats.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Evidence of some sort of celebration...

Along the main drive are popped balloons.
And the lake's far side is orchid-festooned.
They lie forlornly in the wet evening air,
Cast-aside relics of some festive affair.

I first noticed the balloons, raucously colored;
Garish rubber popped amid green living leaves.
They lie forlornly in the wet evening air,
Cast-aside relics of some festive affair.

On the path to the lake-clearing, orchids are strewn,
White-petaled florets smashed in the dirt.
They lie forlornly in the wet evening air,
Cast-aside relics of some festive affair.

When might this have happened, this festive affair?
Who was invited, and why wasn't I there?
I ponder these questions after picking them up:
Those cast-aside relics of lying in the wet evening air.

Succession Happens

Succession Happens
Originally uploaded by umlud
Although I took this photo a few days ago, the implicit message behind it is - to me - linguistically humorous.

This particular stand of trees was planted with Ponderosa Pines in 1908. However, after 101 years, few of pines remain in this stand, having given way to better-acclimated hardwoods. The sign, though, still remains, having been carved by a caretaker several years ago.

As in the rest of life, this sign reminds us that succession happens.

Caretaker's cabin

Caretaker's cabin
Originally uploaded by umlud
Recently, the landscape architecture firm Johnson Hill did a site analysis of Saginaw Forest, in which they did a history of Saginaw Forest and the caretaker's cottage. What follows is taken from that report.
When the land [that would become Saginaw Forest] was deeded [to the Department of Forestry - later to become the School of Natural Resources and Environment], an old barn stood on the southeastern corner of the property [, near Liberty Road]. In 1914, the frame of this structure was sold to a neighboring farmer. In 1915, it was decided that some sort of shelter was needed for tools, work crews, and classes, so the stone cabin (existing on the site today) was built. Unfortunately, the need of a caretaker's residence was not foreseen. Initial plans for the building were drawn by Professor Beverly Robinson of the Department of Architecture. A separate storage building was built in 1947 and this building still exists today. Today the original stone cabin is the caretaker residence, occupied by an SNRE graduate student.

As the current SNRE graduate student living in the cabin, I can tell you that although rather small, the caretaker's cabin is comfortable, with (most) of the modern amenities. Unfortunately, it looks to the north, so gets very little light, even on a good day. Furthermore, the windows are rather small, so little light actually gets in, even on a sunny day, except maybe during sunrise and sunset.

However, thanks to the invention of electrical lighting (and the subsequent invention of the compact fluorescent light "bulb"), one can illuminate the inside of the cottage with not too much difficulty.

Situated as it is -- with trees on two sides of the building -- the cottage seems to stay cool. However, I have yet to see how it is during the warm and muggy summer days yet to come.


Rain overnight meant that the little creek is flowing. Luckily - although there was a goodly amount of precipitation this morning - it isn't gushing. Still, though, lots of sediment transport. Hopefully, this issue could be addressed by SNRE.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Although I don't have the best camera for night-video, walking outside and seeing all those fireflies flickering in the yard was quite something, and I felt that I needed to share, even if it is a poor representation of the real thing.

Help with the outhouse

My friend B.D. and I worked this weekend to put in an exhaust system on the outhouse (operation codename: "Shit Happy"). In the end, we managed to get it put up, and although not perfect, it does reduce the amount of smell inside the cabinet during the warm daylight hours, so no major complaints, I suppose. And the fan is protected against rain (unless the rain somehow gets under the flap), so there shouldn't be a chance of short-circuiting, either. I'm pretty chuffed about that accomplishment.

Now all I have to do is to figure out what is the optimal amount of time I need to run the fan prior to going out there...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Plumbing fixes

Plumber just finished up here... Installed a new faucet on the kitchen sink, fixed the leak in the shower, and snaked the shower drain. Wahay!!

Water tested this morning

OSEH came out to today at 9:07AM to collect a water sample from the kitchen sink today. They'll be looking at nitrate and coliform levels. There has not been any problem in the past, and no new problems are expected, but it's nice to know that it's being monitored. (Gives me that nice warm and fuzzy feeling inside.)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Stray or feral cat with litter

Encountered a stray (or possibly feral) cat with its litter outside the barn. Called the Humane Society, hopefully they will be able to send someone out to collect these felines. I'm not a fan of cats being let stray, especially in a forest where - as a top predator - they will have a massive impact on the songbird and small animal populations.

Frog chorus

One of the things I have to "suffer" through is the chorus of frogs that takes place each evening:

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Mists of Saginaw Forest

At 6:30, the sun had already risen and the mists that had gathered above Third Sister Lake were illuminated; a wall of golden white hanging like a curtain across the lake.

Walking outside, the chilly morning air raised the hairs on my arms in goosebumps. Dew clung to the tall grasses, slicking my shoes and legs as I walked toward the lake.

Two swans -- pure white avian squatters that arrived at sometime yesterday afternoon -- stared to trumpet. Maybe they heard my footsteps? Maybe, too, it was a coincidence...

The mist was gone an hour later; the sun having heated the air, breaking open the vista, allowing one to see out and across to the other side.

Mowed road-edge

Mowed road-edge
Originally uploaded by umlud
On Tuesday and Thursday of this week, it appears that Washtenaw County road commission decided to mow the edge of Liberty Road. However, when they got to the section of road that goes alongside Saginaw Forest, they encountered a problem they probably don't encounter often: trees growing over, and into the road-edge.

The result of their labors seems to be (at this point) making the edge of Saginaw Forest look like a kind of war zone against nature. The shredded edge in this photo is almost like a median between the hard, hot asphalt road and the cool, lush forest.

Of course, the work had to be done, though, and the increased visibility offered by cutting back the forest growth does offer me greater safety as I enter and leave the property. It also provides a fresh "edge" along which plants can grow; filling in some of the presently-barren forest floor along the fenceline.

Low barrier against motorcyclist

Low barrier of "CPOM"
Originally uploaded by umlud
Recently, there has been a motorcyclist that has been cutting through the north trail in Saginaw Forest. I've gotten sick of trying to intercept him (I assume the rider is a "he"), so I built this low barrier as an indicator that - although he might be okay riding in the property to the north - he isn't to do so in Saginaw Forest.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Walking out of Saginaw Forest

Taking the path behind the cabin leads one close to the Liberty-Wagner Business Park, where one can park after business hours without having to worry too much about getting ticketed or towed.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Interwebs back on.

After a complete fall-through-the-cracks yesterday with AT&T, a repairman came out this morning and diagnosed the problem as... the old DSL modem finally dying. Nothing with the major rain that happened. Nothing with wires somewhere underground between the house and the road.

So now I have a lovely new modem pumping out lovely interwebs.

Of course, I'm not terribly enthused with the level of service on AT&T's part yesterday: the repair guy apparently just returned the work order to the pool without even coming into Saginaw Forest to diagnose the problem, then I had to explain the situation (as I was experiencing it) three times to different AT&T people at various call centers around the US... Oh, well... At least it got done in the end.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Heavy rains knock out my interwebs connection

The heavy (heavy) rains yesterday knocked out my internet connections. After holding on the line with AT&T for 40 minutes (thank heavens for speaker-phone), I was told that they would be able to send a crew out between the hours of 8AM and 5PM (!) this Friday.

The rain didn't only knock out the internet, but it also clogged the recently installed drain along the road, thus washing sand and silt along the bend in the road. Had to dig out some of that sand last night, with humidity and mosquitoes. Not terribly fun...

The graph to the right is from the USGS river gage on the Huron River. Although the site is below two control dams, large rain events still do make an impact, and you can see that (even if part of the increase was due to dam releases in anticipation of the storm) water levels did increase dramatically during a short period yesterday afternoon (from roughly 820 cfs to roughly 1400 cfs).

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dealing with an annoying person

I just had to deal with a dog-walker with his dog off-leash, in the forest after close... I make my rounds on my bike as usual, partly to minimize the amount of mosquito bites that I have to suffer on a round, and partly because I want to be able to maximize the number of possible people that I would intercept. Since these rounds are part of my duties of the caretaker, they are exempt from the ban on bicycling in the forest (just as clearing trees from the trails is exempt from the ban on cutting wood).

Anyway, I approach the man and inform him that he needs to put his dog on a leash. He moves toward his dog, but doesn't leash it, instead challenging me as to who I was. I informed him that I was the caretaker, and that he was also inside the forest after it was closed. Instead of riding off, I waited for him to put his dog on the leash, which he eventually did, but without more challenges to my asking him to follow the rules -- "it's also against the rules to ride bikes in Saginaw Forest." I informed him that I was making rounds. "Where is that written? Where can I find that?" Just a little touchy, he was.

I followed him along the west trail toward the north. He was not happy that I was doing so, and informed me that I wasn't intimidating him, and that it looked to him that I was giving Marvin a run for his money. I was trying to do neither. Of course, I could have gone ahead. However, when faced with a person who knowingly breaks the rules of conduct, challenges a person who asks him to follow the rules, challenges the caretaker's right to ask him to follow the rules, and accusing the caretaker of trying to intimidate him, I was not exactly sanguine.

He informed me that he had lived in this nice little city ("When it was a nice little city") for forty years and that caretakers will come and go, but that he will continue to stay. I have no problem with that. However, if someone who knowingly breaks the rules gets angry with another person telling them to follow the rules, that level of presumed privilege is something that just grates on my nerves; to get angry with the person who is tasked with upholding the rules is just counter-intuitive.

Tonight's man wasn't the first person that I've had to deal with. The rules are clearly posted, and tell people what is and isn't allowed. These people know the rules (either from years of experience or from just being told what the rules are by the caretaker), yet some get angry that the rules are being enforced on them. My opinion is that if you consciously know that you are breaking the rules, you have no reasonable right to get upset when enforcement happens.

No, I'm not angry. Yes, I am not happy.

Sound of Rain

I awake to the sound of rain outside; don't know when it started. Checking weather underground (, I see that it should last only a few more hours.

The dehumidifier's running though, so there's gonna be some more water to pour out soon.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pulling dandelions

I hate pulling dandelions. Still, though, I pulled a bunch of them from in front of the cabin. I'll pull more tomorrow, and also do some lawn-mowing.


Lightning storm tonight with lots of rain.  It looks like there is a small leak along the chimney... I'll have to e-mail Nahariya on Monday.