MAEAP…MAEAP

 

Every-time I use the acronym MAEAP…I think of the roadrunner cartoon “MAEAP MAEAP”!

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) has had a Michigan’s Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program- MAEAP program in place for many years to honor farmers who are environmentally friendly; recently in the past year they have added a forestry component.  Forest, Wetland & Habitat- geared towards farmers and private landowners who have one, two, or all three of these components on their property.  Many farmers have woodlots and can add it to their list of verified components.  Farmers and landowners go through risk assessments at their own pace and when they meet all the high risk (erosion, chemicals, ect.) they can become verified.  It is a voluntary program, and is confidential. I was given permission by my landowner to talk about it.  Being a forester under the MDARD umbrella, we took on the forestry part, while the MAEAP technicians focused on the agriculture parts.

When first learning of this new program, I immediately knew who fit the bill for it.  To be apart of it, you really have to be “one” with your land and active on it, and willing to keep up with it.

Norm, young at heart, has been following the words and wisdom of Aldo Leopold.  When he was younger he read Aldo Leopold’s, Sand County Almanac and was inspired and it has never left him. He spent two weeks in Baraboo, Wisconsin at the family shack, learning the ways and Aldo’s legacy. When I first met Norm, back shortly after I started here, he was just looking for direction to update his management plan.  I figured it would be another typical walk through the woods, chatting about deer management, and a quick referral.  To my surprise, I was wrong! We sat down that first day and he showed me the plans he had written for the last 20 years, his records of his control for invasive species (Autumn olive) and other activities he had done.  He has records for putting his property into a conservation easement and the real kicker is his mission statement.  While reading his mission statement, again inspired by Leopold, I was brought to tears. It is not often I meet someone with the same values as I. I was humbled and overwhelmed by what he had written YEARS ago. A holistic approach for sustainability of all parts of the land. I collected myself and we took a tour of the property….

As we toured the property, Norm pointed out the some 60,000 trees he planted- most by hand and some by machinery. He took an old abandoned farm and turned it into a nature paradise. He put up signs with species and dates, not only for him to remember the date but for his grand kids when they inherit the property. He has his hardwoods stands marked by color for easier tree ID for them as well.  Norm is an organic farmer with fruit trees and bees and provides ample habitat with 10 wood duck houses, buffer zones along his wetlands and has even restored his section of the Cedar River back to a blue ribbon stream for great trout fishing! That first tour, I left feeling a sense of calm and happiness.

Now, trying to get a hold of Norm is not always the easiest- because he spends 7 days a week out at the property managing it, so either I have to drop by or wait for a call- but the wait is always worth it! Because, I was so inspired by Norm, I knew I had to take everyone and anyone out there whenever I could. He was always ready to share his story with anyone who would listen.  I took a group out there to verify his property with MAEAP, and just recently took a group of landowners out there for a field tour on managing your woodlot. EVERY SINGLE PERSON, left there thanking him and thanking me for allowing them to experience such beauty.

He has even been Conservationist of the Year and Tree Farmer of the year! Norms.jpg

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International Day of Forests

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are so many quotes I could start off this post with; so I chose one that was simple and too the point but is also complex.  With just 10 words and a deeper thought a bigger picture arises.  With one acorn we get a tree- which produces thousands more acorns to produce more trees and the cycle lives on into thousands of forests. In 10 words- we have the world; we have clean air, clean fresh water, carbon sequestration, recreation, wildlife habitat, a friend to hug, timber, food, clothing -“we have everything”- all from an acorn.

Now, I could go on and on about the benefits of forests and the importance of them but we should all know by now how they provide us with the essentials of life… 75% freshwater, oxygen, heat… but I won’t.  Instead I just wanted to say thank you to all the trees and thank you to those who appreciate the forests/trees/and vegetation not only today but everyday because without them humanity would not exist.

The picture below was taken a couple days ago- sometimes we run into areas where regeneration like this just does not happen and we have to plant- but I wanted to showcase mother nature at her finest- volunteer baby trees! The landowner told me he talks to his trees- which I think plays a huge roll in the amount of white oaks we are seeing here 🙂

Get outside…Plant a Tree…you will be planting for the future.

IMG_8858.JPG
Baby Oak Volunteers! 

 

 

Check out that Norway!

“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”        – Warren Buffett

Do you ever sit under a tree and think about how it got there?  Was it a volunteer, meaning did it naturally regenerate and grow there? Or did someone years ago, maybe decades ago plant it?  Did someone take the time to dig a hole and plant a seedling tree- hoping that one day it will grow up big and strong in hopes that someone sits under it and wonders or that wildlife is enriched by all the trees benefits.  Seriously…how did it get there, what has the tree seen, what kind of tree is it even!? If only trees could talk; the stories they would tell! Would you take the time to listen?

A few days ago I had a couple stop by the office carrying a large garbage bag and inside was a tree branch! They began to tell me about the tree and how they had 35 acres of these trees! I looked at it, felt the needles and said well “its a spruce, but I do not want to give exact species without seeing them”.  They had told me that the previous owner planted some 13,000 of these for a Christmas Tree Farm, but passed and the wife did not keep up with it so they just grew.  I did not want to confirm the exact species because partly I wanted to see these trees in real life and because I was not 100% certain on it, I told them I did not want to say white spruce and be wrong, in the back of my mind I knew it wasn’t.  It was very bright green..but all I could think was black or white spruce for holiday trees but I just had a feeling it wasn’t because the branching and the pure green color.  In the back of my mind I am thinking can this really be a Norway Spruce and is just a young or upper branch?  But, Norway is not a common holiday tree here…  This was a brain teaser at best! I could not get it off my mind, so I talked it out with a friend…walking through all the trees it could be.

Anywho, so as I drove through the muddy back-roads to their property, it hit me like a cold snowball in the face and I yelled (all alone in my truck) I KNEW IT!! As I pulled into their driveway I had the biggest smile on my face because right in front of me, plain as day, rows and rows and rows of NORWAY SPRUCE!!!  I met up with the landowners and said, I am so happy I did not let you leave my office without setting up a visit-because these are Norway Spruce.  In shock we began to walk towards the trees and I explained how Norway’s branches droop down.  I have never seen a plantation of these species before, I was in awe.  It was a beautiful day, reaching 64 degrees Fahrenheit but when we walked into the trees it dropped roughly 10 degrees!  This beautiful, green carpet of trees stand tall all because some 26 years ago a gentleman decided to plant 13,000 trees!

Next time you pass a tree on a walk/run/bike or sit under one to cool down and take in its shady canopy take a moment to think- how did it get there? What has it seen? What species of tree is it?  If you do not know what species of tree it is, take a picture or note things about it and go that extra step to look it up!

Thank that tree for Clean Air

 

 

Urban- The hidden connection

I’ve touched on the subject of what trees can do for us before, but because I have been stuck on the topic I thought I would go more in depth on some of it.  For the past month I have really been focusing on the research and outreach of what urban trees do for us.  Sidebar, if we went to school together, we would make friendly jokes about urban forestry, but in reality in my position I bring up a lot of urban forestry topics to help my community all become intertwined with forestry.  I try to bring the landowners with one tree together with the landowners with hundreds of trees.

Okay– back to my hidden connection that trees have with our everyday life.  So to make it more believable I went out and measured one of the trees in my yard to explain. I rent a single family home here in Harrison, MI and have plenty of yard trees.  I chose the one closest to the house.  Its a norther red oak about 24 in diameter.  Besides the obvious aesthetics and wildlife benefits of the acorns and the habitat for birds and squirrels and such it is also saving me money on my heating and cooling.  According to the National Tree Benefit calculator I save $162 a year.  This one tree alone takes up 2, 535 gallons of stormwater runoff  each year.  It does this by taking in water through the leaves, roots and branches.  This in return prevents flooding of the yard and flooding around the house and under the house.  It also helps prevent soil erosion around the house and foundation.  Besides uptake of the water the tree is also saving energy for me.  It will save on average 236 killowatts/ hour for me!  It shades the house in the summer keeping my cooling costs down and helps through evapotraspiration keeping the temperature regulated around the house.  And hey, not to mention it helps block the wind!  This one tree also helps improve the air quality.  It absorbs air pollutants and releases oxygen reducing the amount of pollutants I would encounter while in the yard.  Trees reduce the risks of asthma, headaches, respiratory and heart disease but taking in these pollutants for us!  SCORE!!!

So basically, as I step down from my soap box, the moral of this post is that trees are good and we should all plant a tree this spring.  Tomorrow is International Forest Day (March 21st 2015) and we should all honor that by ordering our trees and preparing to plant for the future!

http://www.treebenefits.com/calculator/index.cfm

taken from google images
taken from google images

One Stuck Forester

So, remember a couple posts ago when I mentioned “getting stuck”? Well do you know how to get a forester unstuck from a ditch?!  It isn’t as easy as one might think.  Oh she’s got all wheel drive, no problem, oh big problem!!

Anyways, so I was driving out to a landowners property for a site visit.  No address just told go to the end of the road and its the brand new driveway at the end.  They are just starting to build a house on their property so its all new.  Yea…new driveway and a foot of white snow.  I found the place okay and started to drive up the driveway and a huge dump truck is trying to get out of the driveway…so I start backing up.  Next thing I know…”FORESTER DOWN”! Right back into a ditch I go.  Now, this isn’t your ordinary ditch, this was a large steep drop off, right into frozen snow.  So, unfortunately I had to call the landowner and explain how I was now stuck at the end of the driveway and I may have sorta hit one of his oaks. So he and his father drive down with the large Ford truck and try to pull me out…no luck.  To get a forester out of the ditch you need “More Power”  we waited for the dump truck to come back and sure enough with a little tug, I was free!  Car was left unharmed, but the foresters ego may have been a little hurt!

Mr. Dump Truck who saved me!
Mr. Dump Truck who saved me!

State Tree–White Pine

When asked “Whats your favorite tree”? My first response is Gingko–but then realizing most people don’t know this one of a kind species I say well native species would have to be the White Pine-which also happens to be Michigan’s State Tree. We will get back to the Gingko at a later date.  I like white pines because of the versatility to grow in a variety of soils and because they are naturally beautiful with their soft needles and they grow to beautiful heights.  They are also a commonly liked tree by the Bald Eagle for nesting (What a perk!!). Although like many species–they are susceptible to many diseases but if in good conditions can be a great yard tree, forest plantation species, or for a Christmas tree.

White Pine--young and old.
White Pine–young and old.