Use of the Forest

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

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...