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2017 Wetlands Conference
Innovations in Wetland Protection and Management
September 27-29, 2017
The Michigan Wetlands Association (MWA) held its 2017 Wetlands Conference at the Treetops Resort, Gaylord, Michigan. The conference was open to both members and non-members. We had participation from state, federal, and local agencies; private consulting firms; colleges and universities; conservation and environmental organizations; and other interested citizens. The conference took place at the Treetops Resort, which is located five miles east of Gaylord amidst abundant and varied scenic and recreational opportunities.
The MWA is a statewide organization dedicated to the protection and restoration of wetlands and associated ecosystems through science-based programs, education and stewardship. The conference included keynote speakers, general sessions and themed tracks, and social and networking activities.
Tuesday September 26, 2017 1:00pm – 4:00pm
Protection and Restoration of Wild Rice
This workshop will focus on the protection and restoration of Wild Rice in Michigan. We will spend the afternoon learning about the different varieties of wild rice, or “Manoomin,” found in Michigan, habitat and growing conditions, range, Tribal significance, and restoration efforts. After these presentations we will head outside for “Wild Rice Camp” where we will participate in a live demonstration of processing harvested wild rice in the traditional tribal methods. It will be interactive, engaging, and outside!
Siting Wetland Mitigation and Restoration in a Watershed Context
This workshop will focus on assessing the functions and values of impacted wetlands using the Landscape Level Wetland Functional Assessment (LLWFA) approach and determining which restoration and mitigation sites will likely replace those functions. Participants will work in a small group setting to analyze impacts to wetlands, screen potential mitigation sites, and make decisions on likely outcomes of restoration projects. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has been working since 2006 on refining and expanding the use of the LLWFA across much of the state. This approach addresses both a current (2005) wetland inventory and a Pre-European Settlement inventory, to approximate change over time. Twenty watersheds have been thru the complete LLWFA process, and another ten watersheds are in some phase of completion. In, 2008 the U.S. Environmental Project Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) adopted the Federal Mitigation Rule which placed an emphasis on planning wetland mitigation and restoration projects using the watershed approach. This workshop will cover using MDEQ’s LLWFA, watershed plans and other information to plan wetland restoration and mitigation projects in the watershed context.
Management of Invasive Wetland Species
When invasive species take hold, they can cause serious environmental damage to wetland ecosystems and can be very difficult to manage. This workshop will focus on management of invasive wetland species and will include case studies on early detection and rapid response, monitoring and surveying for invasive species, cooperative invasive species management, and more.
We will participate in a live demonstration of processing harvested wild rice in the traditional tribal method
Pigeon River Country Tour 12:30pm
Tour the Pigeon River Country (PRC) with Michigan Department of Natural Resources Staff, including:
- Song of the Morning – Visit the site of the dam removal on the Pigeon River and hear the story of its removal. This privately owned dam had failed 3 times in the last century, each time causing a catastrophic loss of fish. Now after a lawsuit and agreement by the parties, the dam has been removed, which has restored the Pigeon River to its natural free flowing state.
- PRC State Forest Headquarters and Discovery Center – We will visit the building complex built by the CCC in 1935, which houses the offices and visitor center. There we will learn a little of the history of the PRC and its significance in the history of conservation in Michigan. We will also tour the PRC Discovery Center, which is still under development, and learn about the latest initiative to tell the story of the PRC and introduce a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts to the “Big Wild”.
- Sinkhole Lakes – We will venture out past the Pigeon River to the scenic sinkhole lakes to learn about their unique geology and the challenges of managing these small gems.
- After wrapping up at the PRC, we can head into the thriving town of Gaylord and visit Snowbelt Brewery on our way out of town for a cold beverage.
Bog and Brew 12:30pm
Come out and take a walk through a diverse northern Michigan forest that is filled with wildlife, multiple forest types and has diverse range of wetlands, at Johannesburg Lewiston Schools. The walk will start off stopping by a bog full of birds and wetland plants, then wander off into an aspen clear cut and then into an old growth maple forest with vernal pools and depressional wetlands. The walk will finish up by traveling through a thick black spruce wetland forest and ends with an ice cold brew only blocks away. Attendees will meet at entrance of conference building before heading over to site to go over site and parking details.
Trout Fishing Clinic 12:30pm
MWA will offer a Trout Fishing Guide based clinic focused on a variety of topics from basic casting, to tactics, to insights on area trout fishing opportunities. The clinic will be organized to include something for all skill levels. After the clinic, the guide will provide a printout detailing several good areas to fish so you can try out your new found skills. Participants are encourage to bring their own gear, but for the clinic, the guide can provide equipment for up to 15 individuals. For those willing to bid, the silent auction will include a ½ day (after the clinic) guided fishing trip with the Guide and MWA Board Member Kurt Brauer. Individuals are responsible for having proper fishing licenses and following all fishing regulations.