Tuesday, February 23, 2010

TLC 2010 Field Trips and Activities

The TLC has planned several educational field trips and other events each month for 2010. Below is a summary. Locations and times may be subject to change and are flexible for those with their own transportation and ability to find our group. We suggest you contact us at 810-346-2584 or mail@ThumbLand.org for details prior to an upcoming event.

February 27

Saturday 3 - 9PM

Winter Woodland & Owl Calling in the Tuscola State Game Area

Learn winter trees, shrubs, and wildlife. Have a campfire cookout. Call and shine owls at dusk into evening. Screech, Great Horned, and Barred Owls are possible. Tuscola State Game Area: South of Caro, Tuscola County, Michigan. Meet at the intersection of Wells Road and Cat Lake Road, 2 miles east of M-46 and M-24.


March 20

Saturday 1 - 6PM

Maple Syrup at the Simmons Family Farm

Learn about maple syrup production. Help gather sap for boiling. See a working sap house. Sample the product. Simmons Family Farm: 5321 North Branch Road, North Branch, Lapeer County, Michigan. Meet at the Simmons farm house at 5321 North Branch Road, north side of M-90, about half way between M-53 and North Branch.


April 16 - 17

Friday - Saturday 9AM - 5PM

Saint Clair County Earth Fair at Goodells Park

TLC exhibit table. Goodells County Park: Lapeer Road between Goodells Road and Castor Road, Wales Township, Saint Clair County, Michigan


April 24

Saturday 9AM - 5PM

Embracing Our Earth in Huron County

TLC exhibit table. Bad Axe High School: Bad Axe, Huron County, Michigan


May 1

Saturday 8AM - 9PM

Point Pelee Spring Bird Migration in Ontario

See and learn migratory birds up-close. Point Pelee Provincial Park: Leamington, Ontario, Canada. For those in the Port Huron area, we will meet in the Meijer parking lot in Fort Gratiot at 8AM. Otherwise, we will see you at Point Pelee. Everyone will need a passport, enhanced drivers’ license, or birth certificate.


May 8

Saturday 12 - 5PM

Silver Trails Spring Woodland Wildflowers

Walk through old-growth forest. Learn spring woodland wildflowers. Learn forest ecology. Silver Trails Scout Reservation: Jeddo Road west of Black River, Saint Clair County, Michigan. Meet in front of the Silver Trails Dining Hall at the end of the main gate entry drive.


May 22

Saturday 9AM - 5PM

Painted Trillium and Northern Forest

See Michigan Endangered Painted Trillium. Learn northern forest ecology. Port Huron State Game Area: Meet at Rynn Road parking lot between Abbottsford Road and McLain Road northwest of Wadhams, Saint Clair County, Michigan.

Port Huron State Game Area Spring Bird Bandout

See and learn migratory birds up-close. Watch experts net and band birds. Port Huron State Game Area: Meet in Beard’s Hills, along M-136 near the Black River, Saint Clair County, Michigan.


May 29

Saturday 9AM - 3PM

Mill Creek Aquatic Macroinvertebrates

Sample and learn aquatic macroinvertebrates. Assist the Mill Creek Volunteer Monitoring Project in water quality monitoring. Mill Creek: Meet at the Yale City Park, Saint Clair County, Michigan.


June 19

Saturday 9AM - 5PM

Beach Ridge and Swale Habitat in Fort Gratiot

Coastal landscape history and forest ecology. Learn unique vegetation and wildlife of beach ridges and swales. Fort Gratiot County Park - Metcalf Road at Lake Huron, Lake Huron Woods Presbyterian Village - M-25 north of Carrigan Road, Saint Clair County. Meet at Fort Gratiot County Park.


July 17

Saturday 9AM - 5PM

Minden Bog / Sanilac Petroglyphs / Wind Turbines

Walk across Minden Bog. Learn unique bog vegetation. Visit the Sanilac Petroglyphs and wind turbines. Minden Bog - Minden City State Game Area, Palms Road end at Black River, near Palms, Sanilac County, Sanilac Petroglyphs - Sanilac State Game Area, Germania Road at North Branch of Cass River, Michigan Wind One - Ubly area, Huron County. Meet at the end of Palms Road at Black River on the east side of Minden Bog.


August 21

Saturday 9AM - 5PM

Black River Mussels and Fish

Collect and learn mussels and fish of the Black River. Black River: Location to be announced.


September 18

Saturday 9AM - 7PM

Port Crescent State Park / Sand Point Nature Preserve / Huron County Nature Center Wilderness Arboretum

Visit the shoreline, dunes, and forests at the tip of the Thumb along Saginaw Bay. Port Crescent State Park - Port Austin area, Sand Point Nature Preserve - Bay Port area, Huron County Nature Center Wilderness Arboretum - Caseville area, Huron County, Michigan. Meet at the Wal-Mart parking lot on the west side of Sandusky.


September 25

Saturday 9AM - 3PM

Black River Aquatic Macroinvertebrates

Sample and learn aquatic macroinvertebrates. Assist the Saint Clair County Health Department in water quality monitoring. Black River Watershed: Saint Clair County, Michigan. Contact TLC for exact locations.


October 23

Saturday 10AM - 3PM

Dead End Woods Sanctuary Fall Stewardship

Help TLC take care of this nature preserve. Dead End Woods Sanctuary: Northwest of State Road and North River Road, Fort Gratiot Township, Saint Clair County, Michigan. Meet at the dead end of Wilson Drive near the end of Blueberry Lane.


October 30

Saturday 10AM - 3PM

Silver Trails Autumn Forest

Enjoy the fall colors of an old growth forest. Learn forest ecology. Silver Trails Scout Reservation: Jeddo Road west of Black River, Saint Clair County, Michigan. Meet in front of the Silver Trails Dining Hall at the end of the main gate entry drive.


November 6

Saturday 10AM - 3PM

James F. Gerrits Sanctuary Fall Stewardship

Help TLC take care of this nature preserve. James F. Gerrits Sanctuary: West side of Chateau Anchor Bay mobile home park, just west of M-29 and Bethuy Road, east of New Baltimore, Ira Township, Saint Clair County, Michigan. Take Lagrand Boulevard at Chateau Anchor Bay entrance to Normandy Boulevard. Meet at the north end of Normandy Boulevard.



Saturday 8AM - 6PM

Point Edward to Kettle Point Birding / The Pinery Provincial Park in Ontario

Learn waterfowl and other shoreline birds with the Blue Water Audubon Society. Visit the dunes, shoreline, and Carolinian Forest along the east shore of Lake Huron. Point Edward to Kettle Point - Kettle Point area Ontario, Canada, The Pinery Provincial Park - Grand Bend area, Ontario, Canada. Date and locations to be announced. Everyone will need a passport, enhanced drivers’ license, or birth certificate.



Saturday 9AM - 6PM

Blue Water Audubon Christmas Bird Count

Assist the Blue Water Audubon Society with their annual bird count. Saint Clair County and Sanilac County, Michigan. Date and locations to be announced.

TLC Needs Your Help

With 2 new sanctuaries and 58 acres of land to look after in our first year, the TLC has several volunteer opportunities available.

Most importantly, we need stewards to monitor the Dead End Woods Sanctuary in Fort Gratiot Township and the James F. Gerrits Sanctuary in Ira Township. Sanctuary stewards post signs, mark property lines, monitor and manage land use, talk with neighbors, and inventory species among other activities.

Sanctuary clean-ups are usually conducted in the late summer or fall to avoid damaging woodland wildflowers. We will announce regularly scheduled clean-ups on this blog page and by e-mail.

We could also use the help of anyone interested in grant writing. There are several grant opportunities now focused on the Great Lakes basin, but we have little time to pursue all of these. Grant writing experience is in-demand by most non-profit organizations and looks good on a resume.

We will soon need other help focused on fundraising, environmental education, and community organization. If you care about natural areas in the Thumb, please talk to us about your ideas of how we might work together. Call 810-346-2584 or e-mail mail@ThumbLand.org

TLC Offers Assistance to Wetland Owners and Permit Applicants

Thumb Wetland Assistance Pilot Program

On January 6, 2010, the Thumb Land Conservancy was officially designated by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality as one of only three organizations in the State of Michigan to administer a new Wetland Local Assistance Pilot Program. The other two organizations are Cannon Township in Kent County, and the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts in the Calhoun, Delta, and Muskegon County Conservation Districts. The pilot program is intended to provide assistance to applicants seeking permits to impact State-regulated wetland.
The TLC proposed an assistance program in conjunction with other agencies throughout the Thumb, including the Saint Clair County Drain Commissioner (SCCDC). The Thumb Wetland Assistance Pilot Program (TWAPP) provides the following general assistance to permit applicants upon request:

  • Educational and outreach information on wetlands, including referrals to the State Wetlands Protection web site links and information on the TLC and SCCDC web sites;
  • Assistance with completing wetland permit applications;
  • Advice in avoiding and minimizing project impacts; and
  • Assistance with the application and description of best management practices.

TWAPP assistance includes e-mail or phone discussions, web site information, and general review and critique of application materials. If specific information is required, applicants are referred to private consultants and/or engineers as appropriate. TWAPP personnel do not guarantee permit approval as we ultimately have no control over the requested impacts, agency decisions, or the quality of information provided by outside consultants.
General in-office assistance is free-of-charge to landowners and permit applicants. Specific assistance, such as site visits, calculation of wetland fill volumes, or production of drawings is charged at the rate of $60 (sixty dollars) per hour. Applicants and landowners are responsible for all charges from outside consultants, engineers, and other parties they may utilize.
Applicants and landowners can mail or e-mail materials along with specific instructions to the TLC, SCCDC, or other agency offices as they become available. For more information, contact the TLC at 810-346-2584 or mail@ThumbLand.org or the SCCDC at 810-364-5369.

"Bio Bob" Collins

Bob Collins, a well-known biology teacher in the Port Huron area, passed away the night of January 4th after fighting cancer for 9 years. Bob retired in 2005 after 40 years as a Biology professor at Saint Clair County Community College. He was a great advocate for the appreciation and protection of local natural areas, and equally for global concerns. He earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Biology from Eastern Michigan University. His studies took him to 7 US states, Bermuda, Costa Rica, and Belize. Bob and his wife, Carolyn, traveled to all 50 states and 6 continents, most recently to Indochina. Upon his retirement, they moved to the Dexter area, near Bob’s original family home. Bob was still active in bird watching and with the Adult Learners Institute in Chelsea.
Bob was not related to me. I first met Bob through Scouts in the late 1970’s when he was President of the Blue Water Audubon. Later, he was my biology teacher at SC4, the best teacher I had in 6 years of college. One of Bob’s favorite places to take his biology classes on nature walks was the Port Huron State Game Area. He also led an annual Spring birding trip for exceptional students to Point Pelee in Ontario, with a stop in Greek Town for lunch. He had a big influence on my college education and I feel that his influence continues through my work as an ecological consultant and in the Thumb Land Conservancy.
I recently had the honor of substitute teaching two general biology courses for two weeks at SC4 in the very classroom where Bob Collins taught. I had not been in that room for 27 years. This was significant for me not only as my first college teaching experience, but within days of my last message to Bob before he passed. Thanks to Dave Sheldon and Janice Fritz for the opportunity.
Bill Collins, President, Thumb Land Conservancy

Bob Collins obituary:
Robert "Bio Bob" Collins died on January 4, 2010, after many years of giving prostate cancer "a good run for its money".
Bob was born in Detroit, raised in Stockbridge and spent his teaching career in Port Huron. He felt particularly lucky to have lived his last five years in Dexter where he took great pride in his new and thriving community.
Bob was a "Muddy Boot" biologist. He was a life-long student, a forty-year professor and a man that loved being outside in nature. He taught thousands of students in his career at the St. Clair County Community College where he was heralded as an enthusiastic, funny and compassionate teacher. No course was complete without the requisite trip into the "field". In his element, he was able to enthuse even the novice when artfully sharing his knowledge of the living world. He won many grants and accolades over his career that allowed him to study around the world. In his retirement Bob continued to teach for the Adult Learners Institute in Chelsea.
Bob was a passionate traveler. He and his wife Carolyn’s philosophy always involved choosing the road less traveled. They trekked, hiked, biked, boated and even traveled by rickshaw into some very unusual places over the years. They celebrated each culture with ardent curiosity and appreciation; sampling the local art, customs and delicacies with great relish. Their fascination with the world took them to all seven continents. Bob’s 66th birthday was particularly exciting when his sightseeing trip of the Antarctic Sea was cut short. The teeth of an aggressive Leopard Seal punctured the Zodiac he was traveling in, necessitating an emergency rescue. Bob’s comment was, "So much nicer than a gift of a shirt."
Bob maintained the interest of a life-long learner. He read, cooked, gardened and conversed with great zeal. He followed world news and politics with both fascination and fury. He was an opinionated, well-seasoned conversationalist with an excellent sense of humor. He had a great mind and a wonderful memory for things, but above all he was a kind man. He said recently, "I would have made a kick ass seventy-year old!" And he would have, too. Bob had the knack for making you think about things, big and small.
Bio Bob’s other major interest was bird watching. His binoculars were never far from reach. He could deftly describe bird behaviors, imitate bird calls and hike for hours in search of his old friends. His family and students were always amused by the little dance he did in celebration of adding yet another "lifer" to his birding list. In his final weeks he took great comfort in watching the birds frolic in his wooded backyard. "So it goes to the survivors of this marvelous living world," he said in a letter to his family.
As his final teaching moment he shared these thoughts with us: "I find myself in somewhat of a privileged position today as I prepare for my imminent death. So many people die instantly and haven’t the time to contemplate their ending. My situation has created a double edged-sword as my wife and my immediate family also have my cancer. This has brought about conversations with laughter, crying, embracing, support and love. We have talked about fear, anger, regrets, work, play, joy, sadness and the timing of death. These recent discussions have strengthened our family dynamic remarkably . . . I have concluded that I continue and use my life experiences to teach our children and grandchildren about aging, disease and death. I have taken great joy in sharing my appreciation of a complete life and my death as a normal conclusion to the fullness of my journey."
We are all so much better for knowing and loving him.
Bob will be sorely missed by his wife Carolyn (Wilk) Collins, his children; Kate Collins (Erich Klun) of Ann Arbor, Pat Collins of Madison, WI, and Andrew Collins (Tracy Baker) of Ypsilanti, and his grandchildren; Simon, Celeste, Coco and Wren.
‘A Celebration of his Life’ will be held in his favorite season, when the earth awakes from its slumber and his beloved warblers begin their journey back to Michigan. If you would like to share a remembrance or a story about what Bob meant to you, please e-mail biobobcollins@att.net.
His family wishes to thank his Oncologist, Maha Hussain, for helping him to maintain his quality of life while living with cancer, and to Arbor Hospice for allowing him to experience an equally quality death.
Memorial donations can be made in Bob’s name to the Blue Water Audubon Society c/o Robert Haas, 7820 Graham Rd., Grant Twp., MI 48032.

New TLC Blog

This is the new TLC blog. Look here for regular updates about TLC activities and future events.