Use of the Forest

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

Monday, August 30, 2010

Monitoring well installed

Last Friday, the drilling halted at around 170', when the augers bent out of shape, making further downward progress impossible. Based on the water samples taken, a well was installed at around 70', and the DNRE is reviewing the data in order to determine if another well needs to be drilled to the bedrock.

Capped well

UPDATE: DNRE has decided that another well needs be drilled.

History of Saginaw Forest -- as reported in 1953, 1958 and 1977

Looking at the historical account of Saginaw Forest — written in various encyclopedic surveys of the University of Michigan — one finds a very nice historical account from 1953 of the setup and initial planting of the property:
Shortly after the establishment of the Forestry Department in 1903, Arthur Hill, of Saginaw, former lumberman and Regent of the University, presented a tract of eighty acres to the University for the use of the department. The area is about four miles from the campus on West Liberty Road, and under the terms of the deed was designated as the Saginaw Forestry Farm. At that time part of it had so deteriorated that cultivation had been abandoned, and the remainder was still under lease for crop production. In 1904 several coniferous plantations were established on the idle part of the tract. Additional planting was done each year until by 1915 the entire plantable area had been covered. By 1928 fifty-five acres were in forest plantations, consisting of nine coniferous species and twelve hardwoods. The balance of the area comprises a lake of eleven acres, swampy ground, an arboretum, natural second growth on slopes that were never cultivated, and roads. Thirteen additional species were planted in the Arboretum. A detailed history of the various plantations by Professor Leigh J. Young has been published in Volume IX of the Papers of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters under the title, "Growth and Cultural Experiments on the Saginaw Forest."
The 1958 encyclopedic survey noted a few additional pieces of historical information (in addition to the information presented above:
The Saginaw Forest — When the Forestry Department was established, one of the immediate needs was for land on which instruction and research in forestry operations could be carried out. The need was met by Arthur Hill, of Saginaw, a lumberman and Regent, who purchased an eighty-acre tract, two miles west of Ann Arbor, in 1903 and deeded it to the University, with the stipulation that it be used as a forestry demonstration and experimental area. The deed also specified that the official name should be "The Saginaw Forestry Farm." By 1919 the development of the plantations had reached such a stage that the name "farm" seemed inappropriate, so it was changed by the Regents, at the request of the Department of Forestry faculty, to "The Saginaw Forest."

Planting of the cleared parts began in the spring of 1904 and was completed in 1915. Later, some of the species proved to be unsuited to the sites on which they had been planted. Other species suffered serious damage from insects and diseases. Most of these unsuccessful plantations have been clear cut, and the areas have been replanted with different species. A few have been kept because of their demonstration value.
The total area of experimental plantations is fifty-five acres, with the balance of the area occupied by the lake, swamp, natural second-growth, roads, buildings, and a small arboretum. Most of the plantings are now so far advanced that the history of their development furnishes much information that can serve as a guide for future operations in reforestation in southern Michigan. Even the failures have been valuable in this respect.

During the summer and fall of 1915, a stone cabin was built for tools and materials and as a shelter for classes and work-crews in inclement weather. It was unfortunate that the need for a caretaker's residence could not have been foreseen, so that a design better suited to the present use of the building could have been adopted. In 1947 the building east of the cabin was erected as a garage and to furnish supplementary living and storage space.

In the hearts of many of the older alumni there is much sentiment for the old "Forestry Farm." It was there that they struggled with grub hoes and spades to establish the first plantations, while arguing vigorously as to the feasibility of starting forests in such an artificial way. There they enjoyed the fellowship of the annual "Camp Fire" in the fall and of the weekend-long "Field Day" in the spring. On the hillside back of the present cabin, they sat and listened to the inspirational talks of "Daddy" Roth. A short distance from the cabin, a large stone with an appropriate bronze tablet was erected by the students in 1927 as a memorial to Professor Filibert Roth, the first head of the Department of Forestry.

Most of the tract of eighty acres consists of level to gentle slopes, with a few short, steep slopes. Toward the north end is Third Sister Lake, covering eleven acres, with about six acres of swamp around the west and south sides. A deep ravine runs southeasterly from the lake to the mid-point of the east boundary. The bulk of the soil is Miami loam.
Stanley G. Fontanna
Twenty years later, additional historic information about Saginaw forest was provided in the 1977 encyclopedic survey:
There has been some evolution in the outlying forest properties. Soon after World War II, as Ann Arbor grew around the Eberwhite Woods area on the west boundary of the city, negotiations were made in the hopes of trading the 43-acre property to the city in exchange for a tract of equal value further out in the country. In 1946, however, the Regents voted to give the land to the city with no replacement. While part of the tract has been used for a grammar school, 30 acres are still undeveloped and are still used for field classes. A similar fate probably faces the Saginaw Forest property further west on Liberty Road. This 80-acre tract, which was given to the School in 1903 by Arthur Hill of Saginaw, has some beautiful plantations, some nearly 70 years old, and small Third Sister Lake is nicely sited in the center of the tract. It has become a favorite hiking spot for Ann Arbor residents; and, although the School continues to manage it for class purposes, the decision has been made that its principal future assignment will be recreational research and use.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Removed a downed pine

One of the pines surrounding the Filibert Roth stone fell at some point during the last week and was hung up on another one of the pines in the area. After roping it against one of the surrounding trees, I cut as much of it as I could away from the base -- to try and get it as "vertical" as possible, thus making it easier for me to move. It was still difficult to get down, requiring me to "roll" it off the branches of the pine on which it was hung up. With a 'crack' the dead pine rolled off the branches of the live one, and I proceeded to cut away the part of the tree lying across the road.

Turns out there were carpenter ants in the wood, as evidenced by the many holes there -- and the grubs that fell out. I continued by chopping up the wood for future fire-building.

Then, shirt absolutely saturated with sweat, dripping to the ground, I went back to the cabin and washed down.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Saw a fox

Walking back into the cabin, I happened to look down the road and saw a red fox looking back at me. We stood there looking at each other. Time seemed to start to stretch out, as we watched each other quiet and still. Then, just as quickly and as easily as I stopped to look down the road, the fox turned and trotted back down the road, its black-tipped furry tail swishing ever so slightly as it disappeared around the bend.

The visit reminds me that I live in a forest that has all of these animals that I don't know that I'll see on a day-to-day level, if at all. (I still haven't seen the feral pigs.) Too bad that I didn't get a photo, since I don't know if I'll see this guy again (let alone when I have a camera on-hand).

Drills and bits


Although this drilling is going to go through sand and silt, it also has to be able to break up small rocks, and push aside slightly larger rocks. ... and it costs about $1000, so while it's very durable, it's also something that you don't want to be worry-free over.

This is one of the reasons why they decided to just pull up, pull out, and restart yesterday after hitting a large, immovable rock about 10 yards down.


And the drillers need to put in about 216' of drill sections. Each of these sections is 5'. There are 120' of drill section on this pallet, with another such pallet with sections being pulled upon.

Each drill section is 7" wide (4" tube, with 3" flange), meaning that for each 5' section, the drill removes roughly 1.3 cu.ft. of material, and after the 216', there will be a rough volume of 57.7 cu.ft. of material removed. And the removed material goes into this truck.


At every 10' of drilling, a water sample is taken (when the new section isn't in silt) for later testing. If a water sample comes back with new evidence of 1,4 dioxane in it (i.e., the existing wells aren't monitoring at the depth where it was found), another well might be sunk to monitor that depth, however, it isn't expected that new contamination will be found. However, because time is taken to take soil samples at each 10' interval (in order to determine if a water sample can be taken) followed by a water sample (when needed), each 10' section will take longer to process as the well gets deeper, since the soil sampler needs to be lowered and removed, as well as the subsequent water sampler. Therefore, although the drilling has gotten roughly half way to the expected bedrock level over just one day, it's unlikely that they will finish by the end of the day on Friday. Monday is almost definite (unless they hit another large rock).

UPDATE: They DID hit another large rock at 170' depth.

UPDATE 2: A monitoring well has been installed.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Drilling this week

IMG_3329Drillers are working in Saginaw Forest this week on the front lawn.

The drilling rig met with an unmovable rock about 40 feet down. After about 15 minutes of grinding, they've stopped for lunch, and will likely pull up, grout the current hole, and move over, and start over.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Activities in the forest

This coming week, there will be some activity in the open lawn are in front of the caretaker's cabin. PALL Life Sciences will have a contractor out to install another monitoring well. It is expected that a truck will be out on the property for five to seven days during this installation process.

Although this is not part of the greater management plan (which should be getting a start in earnest in a few weeks), it does tie in with longer-term monitoring activities related to the groundwater pollution in the area.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Saginaw Forest research

Along with a lot of research that has taken place on Third Sister Lake, there has been a good deal of research done elsewhere on the property of Saginaw Forest. Below is a non-exhaustive list of research that has been conducted in Saginaw Forest or was based on collections taken from Saginaw Forest. This is supposed to be complementary to the list of research papers for Third Sister Lake.

One note: a lot of research that is referenced when doing a Google Scholar search of "Saginaw Forest" was published in the Papers of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts and Letters, which is not available online (at least not yet). As such, I cannot get a full citation of the many papers published there.

In chronological order
note: this list is not necessarily exhaustive
originally compiled by S. Lacy (August 2010)
  • Arnold, JD (1935) “A comparative study of certain species of Marasmius and Collybia in culture” Mycologia 27(4): 388-417
  • Smith, AH (1935) “Studies in the genus Mycenia. I.” American Journal of Botany 22(10): 858-877
  • Blair, WF (1937) “The Burrows and food of the prairie pocket mouse” Journal of Mammalogy, 18(2): 188-191
  • Yeager, LE (1937) “Cone-piling by Michigan red squirrels” Journal of Mammalogy, 18(2), 191-194
  • Hann, HW (1939) “The relation of castration to migration in birds” Bird-Banding 10(3): 122-124
  • Misch, MS (1960) “Heat Regulation in the Northern Blue Jay, Cyanocitta Cristata Bromia Oberholser” Physiological Zoology 33(4): 252-259
  • Kistler, S, AG Stephenson and WS Benninghoff (1979) “Description of understory development in a tree plantation with a new method of data structuring” Vegetatio 40(3): 185-191
  • Barnes, BV and BC Dancik (1985) "Characteristics and origin of a new birch species, Betula murrayana, from southeastern Michigan" Canadian Journal of Botany 63(2): 223-226
  • Howard, RD and AG Kluge (1985) “Proximate mechanisms of sexual selection in wood frogs” Evolution 39(2): 260-277
  • Olson, CE, Jr and Z Zhu (1985) “Forest species identification with high spectral resolution data” JPL Proceedings of the Airborne Imaging Spectrometer Data Analysis Workshop. Pages 152-157 (SEE N86-11618 02-43); United States
  • Cornell, TJ, KA Berven, and GJ Gamboa (1989) “Kin recognition by tadpoles and froglets of the wood frog Rana sylvatica” Oecologia 78: 312-316
  • Riha, VF and KA Berven (1991) “An analysis of latitudinal variation in the larval development of the wood frog (Rana sylvatica)” Copeia 1991(1): 209-221
  • Berven, KA and RS Boltz (2001) “Interactive effects of leech (Desserobdella picta) infection on wood frog (Rana sylvatica) tadpole fitness traits” Copeia 2001(4): 907-91
  • Kahan, A (2008) Nitrogen and Carbon Biogeochemistry in Soil and Vegetation Along an Indirect Urban-Rural Gradient in Southeastern Michigan. M.S. thesis, University of Michigan.
  • Berven, KA (2009) “Density dependence in the terrestrial stage of wood frogs: Evidence from a 21-year population study” Copeia 2009(2): 328-338

There used to be more birding research activity in Saginaw Forest

In doing a brief survey of Saginaw Forest-related research (the published pieces that don't deal specifically with Third Sister Lake, that is), indicate that there used to be more birding research in Saginaw Forest. One key piece of direct evidence comes from Hann's 1939 article:
Early in the year 1933, the writer began some experiments in the relation of castration to the migration of birds in connection with a banding station at Saginaw Forest five miles west of Ann Arbor. The results, though not as decisive as hoped for, are reported at this time, because the banding station has been discontinued, and there is little likelihood that any remaining birds will be recovered.
 Although the birding station in Saginaw Forest was discontinued, bird collection was not, as evidenced by Misch's 1960 article:
The birds used in this study were captured in Ann Arbor and at Saginaw Forest, 4 miles west of Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, Michigan
Somewhat interesting is the description of the distance from Ann Arbor to Saginaw Forest. Almost every time the forest is mentioned, it is associated with a distance "west of Ann Arbor." (When no distance is given, the article in question will usually have a reference to its location within Washtenaw County, in Southeast Michigan.) The reported distance from Ann Arbor isn't consistent, however, and it ranges from a minimum of 3 miles to a maximum of 5 miles. Using the technology now available to us, it is possible to see that the distance from the entrance to Saginaw Forest to Liberty and Main (i.e., "downtown") is 3.1 miles; State and North University (i.e., the edge of Central Campus) is 3.6 miles; to the Biology Department is 3.7 miles; to the School of Natural Resources and Environment is 3.8 miles; and to the Natural History Museum is 3.9 miles. Therefore, 3-4 miles is a decent estimate of distance, depending on whether one means the University or the town center. However, for the single reference I found to a 5-mile distance... I can't explain it.

Academic research conducted on Third Sister Lake

Over the years, there has been a good amount of research on Third Sister Lake (not to mention the rest of the Saginaw Forest property). I recently came across a long list of academic papers written about our little lake, and since it was 13 years out of date, I decided to update it with a cursory check of new papers with "Third Sister Lake" published in the last 14 years (have to include 1997, donchaknow?) and found that there weren't too many that were published since the list was last updated by T. Bridgeman, but enough to warrant me reproducing the list here.

Note: these articles cite the use of specimens taken from Third Sister Lake as well as studies conducted on Third Sister Lake.

In chronological order
note: this list is not necessarily exhaustive
originally compiled by K.L. Schulz and P.M. Yurista;
Updated by T. Bridgeman, March 1997
Updated by S. Lacy, August 2010

The majority of this list was found here.
  • Weld, L.H. 1904. "Botanical survey of Huron River Valley II. A peat bog and a morainal lake." Bot. Gaz. 37: 36-52.
  • Hatch, M.H. 1925. "Habitats of coleoptera." Journal of the New York Entomological Society 33(4): 217-223.
  • Crabb, E.D. "Growth of the pond snail, Lymnaea stagnalis appressa, as indicated by increase in shell-size." The Biological Bulletin 54(1):41-63.
  • Woodhead, A.E. 1929. "Life history studies of the trematode family Bucephalidae." Transactions of the American Microscopial Society 48(3): 256-275.
  • Eggleton, F.E. 1931. "A limnological study of the profundal bottom fauna of certain fresh water lakes." Ecological Monographs 1(3): 231-331.
  • Eggleton, F.E. 1931. "Limnetic distribution and migration of corethra larva in two Michigan lakes." Papers of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters 15: 361-388.
  • Krull, W.H. 1931. "Life history studies on two frog lung flukes, Pneumonoeces medioplexus and Pneumobites parviplexus." Transactions of the American Microscopial Society 50(3): 215-277.
  • Old, M.C. 1931. "Taxonomy and distribution of the fresh-water sponges (Spongillidae) of Michigan." Papers of the Mich. Acad. Sci, Arts, and Letters. 15: 439-476.
  • Price, H.F. 1931. "Life history of Schistosomatium douthitti (Cort)." American Journal of Epidemiology 13(3): 685-727
  • Old, M.C. 1932. "Observations on the Sisyridae (Neuroptera)." Papers of the Mich. Acad. Sci., Arts, and Letters. 17: 681-711.
  • Bosma, N.J. 1934. "The life history of the trematode Alaria mustelae, Bosma, 1931." Transactions of the American Microscopial Society 53(2): 116-153.
  • Leonard, J.W. 1934 "The naiad of Celitheimis monomelaena Williamson (Odonata: Libellulidae)." Occasional Papers of the Museum of Zoology 297: 1-8.
  • Laing, H.E. 1939. A physiological study of some aquatic plants. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Michigan.
  • Brown, C.J.D. and R.C. Ball. 1942. A fish population study of Third Sister Lake. Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 72:177-186.
  • Brown, C.J.D. and R.C. Ball. 1943. An experiment in the use of Derris Root (Rote-None) on the fish and fish-food organisms of Third Sister Lake. Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 72:267-284.
  • Ball, R.C. 1943. Relationship of the invertebrate fauna to the fish population in Third Sister Lake, Wastenaw County, Michigan. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Michigan. 127 p.
  • Goodrich, C. "The Walker-Beecher paper of 1976 on the Mollusca of the Ann Arbor area." Occasional Papers of the Museum of Zoology 475:1-28.
  • Ball, R.C. 1947. A tagging experiment on the fish population of Third Sister Lake, Michigan. Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 74:360-369.
  • Hatchett, Stephen P. 1947. Biology of the Isopoda of Michigan. Ecol. Mon. 17: 47-79.
  • Ball, R.C. 1948. Relationship between available fish food, feeding habits of fish and total fish production in a Michigan Lake. Mich. State Ag. Exp. Sta. Tech. Bulletin 206. 59 p.
  • Berg, C.O. 1949. Limnological relations of insects to plants of the genus Potamogeton. Trans. Amer. Micros. Soc. 78: 279-291.
  • Berg, C.O. 1950. Biology of certain chironomidae reared from Potamogeton. Ecol. Monogr. 20: 83-101.
  • Berg, C.O. 1950. Hydrellia (Ephydridae) and some other Acalyptrate diptera reared from Potamogeton. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 43: 374-398.
  • McGaha, Y.J. 1951. The limnological relations of insects to certain aquatic flowering plants. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Michigan.
  • Ball, R.C. and Hayne. 1952. Effects of the removal of the fish population on the fish-food organisms of a lake. Ecology 33: 41-48.
  • McGaha, Y.J. 1952. The limnological relations of insects to certain aquatic flowering plants. Trans. Amer. Micros. Soc. 71: 355-381.
  • Hopper, F.F. and A.M. Elliott. 1953. Release of inorganic phosphorus from extracts of lake m by Protozoa. Trans. Amer. Micros. Soc. 72: 276-281.
  • Bender, M.E. and R.A. Jordan. 1970. Plastic enclosure versus open lake productivity measurements. Trans. Amer. Fish. Soc. 99: 607-610.
  • Jordan, R.A. 1970. Factorial enrichment experiments in a southeastern Michigan lake. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Michigan. 235 p.
  • Dunnette, David A., 1973. Chemical ecology of H2S production in freshwater lake sediment Ph.D. Thesis. University of Michigan.
  • Jordan, R.A. and M.E. Bender 1973. An in situ evaluation of nutrient effects in lakes. EPA Ecol. Res. Ser. EPA-R3-73-018. 227 p.
  • Robertson, C.K. 1978. Natural rates of methane production and their significance to carbon cycling in two small lakes. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Michigan. 180 p.
  • Robertson, C.K. and D.P. Chynoweth. 1978. Methanogenesis: a measure of chemoorganitrophic (heterotrophic) activity in anaerobic lake sediments. in R.R. Colwell and W. Costerton (eds.), Native aquatic bacteria, enumeration, activity and ecology. Procedings of the American Society for Testing and Materials Symposium, Minneapolis, June 1977.
  • Robertson, C.K. 1978. Quantitative comparison of the significance of methane in the carbon cycles of two small lakes. Archiv. fur. Hydrobiol
  • Korstadt, J.E. 1980. Laboratory and field studies of phytoplankton-zooplankton interactions. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Michigan.
  • Lee, L.W. 1982. The evolution and ecological genetics of phenotypic plasticity in Daphnia pulex. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Michigan.
  • Lee, L.W. 1984. Environmentally controlled phenotypic plasticity of morphology and polypeptide expression in two populations of Daphnia pulex (Crustacea: cladocera). Oecologia 63: 207-214.
  • Naumoski, T. and J.T. Lehman. 1984. Nitrogen loading: influence on dissolved inorganic carbon in natural waters. Proc. Int. Assoc. Theor. Appl. Limnol. 22: 244-249.
  • Lehman, J.T. and T. Naumoski. 1985. Content and turnover rates of phosphorus in Daphnia pulex: effect of food quality. Hydrobiologia 128: 119-125.
  • Dorazio, R.M. 1986. Demographic and experimental approaches to zooplankton population dynamics (egg ratio, birth rate, rotifer, Third Sister Lake, Michigan). Ph.D. Thesis. University of Michigan.
  • Lehman, J.T. and T. Naumoski. 1986. Net community production and hypolimnetic nutrient regeneration in a Michigan lake. Limnol. Oceanogr. 31: 788-797.
  • Cotner, J.B. Jr. 1990. Utilization of dissolved phosphorus compounds by bacteria and algae in lakes. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Michigan.
  • Kiesling, R.L. 1990. The role of consumer-resource interactions in structuring a small-bodied cladoceran community: differential reproduction and survival of Bosmina, Ceriodaphnia, and Daphnia on individual species of phytoplankton. Ph.D. Thesis. University of Michigan.
  • Cotner, J.B. Jr. and R.G. Wetzel 1991. 5'-Nucleotidase activity and inhibition in a eutrophic and an oligotrophic lake. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 57: 1306-1312.
  • Cotner, J.B. Jr. and R.G. Wetzel 1991. Bacterial phosphatases from different habitats in a small, hardwater lake. p 187-205. in R.J. Chrost (ed.), Microbial enzymes in aquatic environments. Springer.
  • Cotner, J.B. Jr. and R.G. Wetzel. 1992. Uptake of dissolved inorganic and organic phosphorus compounds by phytoplankton and bacterioplankton. Limnol. Oceanogr. 37: 232-243.
  • Branstrator, D.K. 1993. Ecological investigations of the invertebrate plankton predator Leptodora kindti. Ph.D. Thesis. Dept. of Biology, University of Michigan.
  • Hammer, B.K. 1995. Diatom succesion in recent, storm induced sediment lamination of Third Sister Lake, Michigan. M.S. Thesis, SNRE. University of Michigan
  • Schulz, K.L. 1996. The Nutrition of two cladocerans, the predaceous Bythotrephes cederstromi and the herbivorous Daphnia pulicaria. Ph.D. Thesis. Diss #26428 Dept. of Biology, University of Michigan.
  • Hammer, B.K. and E.F. Stoermer. 1997. Diatom-based interpretation of sediment banding in an urbanized lake. Journal of Paleolimnology 17(4): 437-449.
  • Bridgeman, T.B., C.D. Wallace, G.S. Carter, R. Carvajal, L.C. Schiesari, S. Aslam, E. Cloyd, E. Elder, A. Field, K.L. Schulz, P.M. Yurista, and G.W. Kling. 2000. A Limnological Survey of Third Sister Lake, Michigan with Historical Comparisons. Journal of Lake and Reservoir Management 16(4):253-267.
  • McNaught, A.S., R.L. Kiesling, and A. Ghadouani. 2004. Changes to zooplankton community structure following colonization of a small lake by Leptodora kindti. Limnol. Oceanogr. 49(2): 1239-1249.
  • Judd, K.E., H.E. Adams, N.S. Bosch, J.M. Kostrzewski, C.E. Scott, B.M. Schultz, D.H. Wang, and G.W. Kling. 2005. A case study: Effects of mixing regime on nutrient dynamics and community structure in Third Sister Lake, Michigan During Late Winter and Early Spring 2003. Lake and Reservoir Management. 21(3) 316-329.
  • Cypher, J.A. and L.D. Lemke. 2009. Multiple working transport hypotheses in a heterogeneous glacial aquifer system. Groundwater Monitoring and Remediation 29(3): 105-119.
  • Kerfoot, W.C. and A.S. McNaught. 2010. Two-step dialogue between cladoceran Bosmina and invertebrate predators: Induction and natural selection. Limnol. Oceanogr. 55(1): 403-419.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Finished mowing down the "main part" of the lawn

It took an additional three hours to do, but I mowed down the main part of the front lawn (hopefully without killing too many small vertebrates) and spread the grass clippings near the Roth memorial stone. Since the grass was allowed to grow tall, when cut short, it looks brown, taking several weeks to come into green. Therefore, the front lawn looks like a patchwork right now, with the paths being the most verdant, followed by the 1st quarter that was mowed, then by the 2nd, etc. I'll keep mowing the entire cut area for the next 2 months (i.e., until after the SNRE campfire) before letting it go for the winter. (Maybe one last mow in November, if there isn't snow on the ground by then.)

Monitoring well pre-dig meeting in the forest

There will be another monitoring well dug in Saginaw Forest, and this morning we had representatives from most of the various groups that are involved (either actively or administratively):
  • DTE: ensure that electricity won't be affected
  • Utility surveying: ensure that underground lines are properly marked
  • Scio Township: because this is happening in the township
  • UofM OSEH: they are in charge of safety and environmental health
  • PALL: who are charged with drilling the monitoring well
  • Well drillers: who came out to see where they will be working next week
This meant that, in addition to the biologists who came out, there were suddenly a large number of vehicles lined up in front of the cabin.

The various groups needed in order to drill another test well

Phone line marked outMost everyone drove off within 15 minutes of arriving, the whole thing being pretty straight-forward on their various ends, leaving OSEH, PALL, and drillers waiting for more people who didn't show up on time (and didn't end up showing). One mystery of the cabin was "uncovered" by the utility surveyor: the location of the phone cable, which apparently runs along the gravel road, and doesn't go under the concrete slab that is the patio (and was apparently poured after the foundation slab).

The well drilling operation will likely start on August 24, and the contractors will continue to be on-site (with their equipment) for 3-7 days. Therefore, if you happen to see a truck parked on the lawn that looks like it's digging a well, that's exactly what's going on.

Luckily, this should be done before the contractors come to get started on the construction of the boardwalk and dock, which are part of the forest management plan.

Biologists in the forest

Botanists in the forestWhile it might not seem so strange to have biologists in the forest, these were coming out here to see the (somewhat famous) Murray Birch (the plant Betula murrayana, not the person, just in case you did a Google search). They were coming out here because the Murray Birch was transplanted in the forest by Prof. Barnes several years ago, and is one of the "rarest plants in all of Michigan," and they wanted to see it "live", because they were writing a identification guide. (And probably because they are real herbarians.)

The specimen in the photo is actually a younger example of B. murrayana (there are also a few other young specimens in the same area); there is a much older one located elsewhere in the forest, located some distance away from the road. At the end of the day, it's good to know that the forest -- although it's changed over the years -- holds gems that will be useful for plant IDers in years to come.

Below is a photo of the older specimen of B. murrayana in Saginaw Forest. (Photo taken by Anton Reznicek) Note that it is much larger than the one in the photo above. The birch in this photo was the original one described by Barnes and Dancik in 1985. The photo of that tree (in winter) can be found here.

The original paper, "Characteristics and origin of a new birch species, Betula murrayana, from southeastern Michigan" was published in the Canadian Journal of Botany. The abstract for which can be found here, and briefly describes the species thusly:
A new taxon, Betula murrayana, is described from southeastern Michigan. This birch appears to be an oetoploid (2n = 112) derivative of an unreduced gamete of Purpus birch (B. × purpusii Schneid. = B. alleghaniensis Britt. × B. pumila L., 2n = 70) and a reduced gamete of yellow birch (B. alleghaniensis, 2n = 84). Betula murrayana has relatively uniform, good, large pollen grains and leaf stomata larger than its putative ancestors; this multistemmed plant has larger leaves and fruits than the hybrid.
There aren't a lot of other papers written about B. murrayana that I could find, and the notation on the National Collection of Imperiled Plants website indicates that the species was initially described in Saginaw Forest, from two individuals, one of which died in the 1980s. Clippings were made and distributed to the Matthei Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor, as well as the Holden Arboretum in Kirtland, OH (but the clipping at Holdren was infested by bronze birch borer, and may be extirpated from there).

Therefore, other than the remaining specimen, and the specimens made from the clippings of that specimen -- found on the edge of the lawn area -- the Murray Birch doesn't really appear to be described as being outside of Saginaw Forest.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Hot work on Sunday, cool morning on Monday

The temperature in the cabin has slowly been inching upwards, and although the dehumidifier does help in keeping the temperature gain tolerable, I'm not (in general) a fan of temperatures above 70F, save for under very dry conditions.

Yesterday was hardly what one might consider cool and dry (unless the referent was a steamy tropical rain forest). Still, I shaved away a few more swaths of tall grass in the front lawn, piling up the grass clippings near the Roth stone. (Brambles and burdock have started to take over the groundcover in this area, and I'm thinking that perhaps a load of grass clippings will help discourage growth next year. We shall see.) After thirty minutes of mowing in the sun, I was completely drenched with sweat and parched.

Following the quick downing of a liter of water (and refilling the bottle), I headed back outside. The temperature at that time was skirting 90F; a record temperature for any August 15 on record, and, shirtless, I slowly raked up the mounds of grass clippings that would be used for blanketing the ground elsewhere. Was it just me, or did the extreme heat also discourage the mosquitoes? I don't know, but although I was working for the next hour sans shirt, I wasn't subjected to vampiric insect attacks.

The evening brought cooler weather, which was a reprieve, and an opportunity to open up some of the windows to let in the breezes. This brings me to a quibble point about the layout of the cabin. The north wall (where the "kitchen" is) has a counter and oven. The oven is in front of the window, but blocks the ability to open the window (which opens inwards), due to its design. Furthermore, the large refrigerator along that wall also blocks half of the second window along that wall. This means that - of the six windows in the main room - 1/3 are blocked, which represent 1/4 of the sides of the house, and short of opening the door, blocks the movement of north-south breezes through the house completely.

Next is the problem of the west-facing window, located behind the gas furnace and the stair; and awkward position that - although not blocked - creates a disincentive for actually using that window. If either the gas stove or the stairs were in a different location, then the window would be better accessed.

The other windows (one in the loft, one on the south wall, and two on the east wall) are fine. Of course, all the windows could do with upgrading, perhaps to a modern sash design (which would facilitate their use without having to rethink layout) with double glazing and UV and IR reflection (as opposed to single pane windows).

(TANGENT: Of course, if a narrower refrigerator or lower stove had been purchased, then these windows would see better use. And while I do utilize much of the stove, I haven't really ever needed the entire volume of the full-sized refrigerator, and perhaps a more modest sized one could work just as well.)

The need for an air conditioner in the cabin - while perhaps a nice piece of luxury - isn't needed, even with the much-warmer-than-average summer that Ann Arbor is experiencing this year, thanks to the shading from all the trees and thanks to the dehumidifier that has kept things at or below 70% humidity. The weather isn't supposed to get as warm as it was yesterday, however, the highs are expected to remain in the mid-80s. Still, with cooler nights (mid-60s), this shouldn't be so bad.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Clearing paths

Yesterday, as I came home, I saw that a tree had fallen across one of the paths in the forest:

Blocked path

Arse. Today was supposed to be hot and humid, and I didn't look forward to cutting out the tree, but since it wasn't fully on the ground, thus requiring a walker to climb over the felled tree, I needed to chop it out. However, the light was already failing, so it had to be postponed until today.

I went out in the late afternoon -- slept in -- and chopped it (and a few maple saplings) out.

Cleared path

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Checking the water

Last week, it was PALL collecting water samples from the front-lawn wells and the near-gate well in order to check for dioxane contamination.

Well sampling

Today, it is the University of Michigan's Occupational Safety and Environmental Health (UM-OSEH) services coming to collect cabin water samples for nitrate and coliform contamination testing.

Water samples from the tap

Sometimes, the human industrial history of the region intrudes upon life more strongly than on other days.

Pummelled by walnuts

For a few weeks now, there is the occasional "thump" that happens as another walnut smacks the roof: a juglandaceous bombing that will likely continue for weeks to come. Perhaps I should collect up some of these walnuts and -- while I'm watching TV in the evening -- shell them for later use.

FYI: "Walnut" is etymologically interesting, since it literally derives from Old English word for "foreign nut". In this case, the word "foreign" meant "Welsh"; therefore "wealhhnutu" ("Welsh nut") has led -- via changes in pronunciation and standardization in spelling -- to "walnut". Therefore (analogous to the origin for the word "turkey"), we have a geographically imprecise viewpoint of origin that has labeled our food (though much less obvious in modern English than our naming of Meleagris species), since the walnut genus is comprised of 21 species, with native ranges from various places in Europe, Asia, and North America, as opposed to merely Wales.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Cut another part of the lawn

The lawn is now about 2/3 mowed. This time, instead of burning the grass, I dumped the clippings next to the barn to turn to mulch. There's about 1/3 of the main area left to be mowed. Maybe next week...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Late summer flowers

Small, late-summer flowers are starting to bloom.

Tiny flowers

Orange-colored blossoms

In addition, the slugs -- which have been out (and often squished) -- are also loving the early morning dew.
Morning slug

Last week, I mowed about a quarter of the lawn area, which I had left to grow "wild" since late May. I'm planning on mowing sections of the lawn in order to minimize the amount of frogs that I might kill during the process, since there seems to be a lot of the small guys that are living in the tall and overhanging grasses, likely picking off the many (many, many) insects that live there.