Use of the Forest

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

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