Cowles Bog & Great Marsh-Derby Ditch Restoration (IDNL) (Saturday All-Day & Sunday All-Day – Departs 8 AM)
Dan Mason of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (IDNL) Resource Management will meet us at Cowles Bog to explore an area that has been described as one of the most famous of all natural areas in the Indiana Dunes. Cowles Bog, named for the noted ecologist Henry Chandler Cowles, is a remnant of the Great Marsh that once stretched between Gary and Michigan City. Despite its name, this wetland complex is not a bog – instead it consists of a raised, forested fen over a mineral-rich spring, a graminoid fen, a swamp and a marsh. Our excursion will cross the entire Cowles wetland complex (as defined as that portion of the Great Marsh west of Mineral Springs Road) in a general south to north progression. (We will spot cars at the exit point.) Dan will explain the study underway to develop a plan to restore the altered hydrology of the area. THIS WILL BE A DIFFICULT WALK through an area not generally open to the public. Because of the area’s fragility, this trip is limited to 10 persons. Safety glasses will be provided for protection from cattails. Rubber boots and a hiking pole are recommended. Poison sumac is present throughout the wetland. “Ivy Block” could be useful. The area is hummocky and mucky. It would be good to wear something you do not mind getting wet. Just in case, it would also be a good idea to have a change of clothes in the car for the afternoon part of this trip. After we emerge from the wetland, we will travel to a nearby picnic area for lunch before making our afternoon visit to the Great Marsh-Derby Ditch wetland restoration. Derby Ditch was constructed in the 1920s to drain marshland for residential development. Dan will describe the restoration work underway and will contrast areas now managed to areas yet to be managed. We will also explore the seep zone to see the state-listed Golden Saxifrage (Chrysoplenium americanum). Rubber boots will again be needed. Dan Mason is a botanist with extensive experience in natural area restoration both in the United States and abroad. For the past 7 years he has worked to restore dunal wetlands and populations of state-listed plant species at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
Clark & Pine State Nature Preserve, Gibson Woods Preserve & Dupont Dune & Swale (Saturday All-Day - Departs 8 AM)
We’ll travel about an hour to the industrialized Gary/Hammond area to explore high quality examples of dune and swale topography formed over 1000s of years by the retreat of glacial Lake Chicago and fluctuations in Lake Michigan’s level. Dune and swale topography consists of low linear beach ridges and intervening swales that run parallel to the Lake Michigan shoreline. The ridge tops support black oak savanna and xeric sand prairie grading to mesic prairie down slope. The swales support a variety of community types that range from wet prairie to sedge meadow, emergent marsh and open water with floating and submerged vegetation. Our first stop will be the Clark & Pine State Preserve. This preserve consists of two units – the original tract is about 41 acres and the addition is 258 acres. Tom Post, northwest regional field ecologist with the Indiana DNR, will lead this trip that will concentrate on the original tract -- a high quality dune and swale remnant with associated vegetation. Located at the south end of Lake Michigan, this preserve is a mixing ground for prairie from the west, deciduous forest from the east, and some plants more typical of northern climates. Over 200 vascular plant species have been reported from the site with over 40 of those state-listed, the highest concentration of listed species in Indiana. Typical woody plants include white pine and black oak, as well as the less common paper birch and jack pine. Prairie plants such as big and little bluestem, Indian grass and switch grass will be common. In the open sand, we will look for beach sumac and bearberry, as well as prickly pear. The swales will have a number of floating aquatics such as white and yellow water lily; water shield and pickerel weed should also be present. The shoreline will have cattails, bulrushes and a number of sedges. Hopefully the puccoon, Indian paint brush, sandwort and other spring bloomers will still be evident as we hike. This part of the trip is rated moderate. For the most part it will be on dry uplands, but will have a few wet spots. We will use an informal trail system that will not be very hilly. For the past 20 years, Tom has been responsible for Clark & Pine and other state preserves in northwest Indiana. On our way to Dupont Natural Area, we will stop at Gibson Woods Nature Preserve, another remnant of ridge and swale topography, for our picnic lunch, and, if we have time, for a walk on the trails. Gibson Woods, a 120-acre Lake County park with an interpretive center, supports about 300 species of native plants. Communities include: dry-mesic black oak sand savanna; mesic sand prairie dominated by big bluestem and tall coreopsis; and wet-mesic forest that features pin oak and speckled alder. Paul Labus, Northwest Indiana Regional Director for the Nature Conservancy, will lead our afternoon visit to the Dupont Natural Area, a 180-acre relatively undisturbed dune and swale fragment managed by TNC. Over 250 native plant species have been identified in the area, which contains four globally rare communities: wet-mesic sand prairie, dry sand savanna, dry-mesic sand prairie and sedge meadow. On the hike we will see a full range of spring and early summer savanna and prairie species, including lupine, sand prairie phlox, Indian paintbrush, golden alexanders and yellow lady’s slippers. The gently sloping terrain makes for easy hiking, however waterproof shoes or boots are suggested. Paul has spent the past 12 years working to protect the unique biodiversity of the southern Lake Michigan region. This All-Day trip is limited to 15 people due to the sensitivity of the Clark and Pine Preserve. Background information: Two major studies of this southern Lake Michigan lakeplain area were published in the late 1990s. They can be found online by searching by their titles. The first, published in 1997, is Status, Trends, and Potential of Biological Communities of the Grand Calumet River Basin prepared under the auspices of the USGS and US Army Corps of Engineers. The “Habitat” section was written by our Dupont trip leader Paul Labus and the “Plants” section by Young D. Choi, who is scheduled to lead a trip along the Little Calumet River on Sunday morning of this Foray. The second study is the National Park Service’s Calumet Ecological Park Feasibility Study, 1998. Both studies contain helpful descriptions of the natural and human history of this area. They can be accessed in pdf format.
West Beach Succession Trail (IDNL) & Coulter Nature Preserve (SHLT) (Saturday All-Day – Departs 8 AM)
The West Beach succession trail at the National Lakeshore illustrates the theory of plant community succession, which was developed by Henry Chandler Cowles over 100 years ago. Botanist Scott Namestnik and plant ecologist Karen Quinlan, both of JFNew, will lead us along this one-mile trail that winds through the early-, mid- and late-successional communities present on the most recently formed dune system in the region. About 4000 years ago, the shoreline and beach community were located approximately one mile inland from where they are now. As the lake receded, the landscape changed and with it the former beach community, resulting in the wide range of ecological communities we can see today. Along the trail, we will walk through many of these communities, including the open beach and foredunes, intradunal pannes and ponds, the lee sides of dunes, sand blowouts, wooded dunes and the human-caused sandmine succession zone. The blowouts in the high dunes contain one of the largest populations of the threatened Pitcher’s thistle (Cirsium pitcheri) within the National Lakeshore. Other plants we can expect to see include marram grass, sand reed, dwarf fragrant sumac, hairy puccoon, prickly pear, hop tree, jack pine and bearberry. This hike will be moderately difficult. Some of the slopes are long and steep and the trail winds across some open sand areas. Hiking boots are recommended. After picnicking, we will meet Paul Quinlan, Stewardship Program Manager for Shirley Heinze Land Trust (SHLT), at the nearby Coulter Nature Preserve. This 84-acre preserve, which is owned and managed by SHLT, is a unique home to over 350 species of native plants. Sand mining in the early and mid-20th century dramatically altered the landscape of this high dunes community, but it also created conditions required by several Atlantic Coastal Plain species, populations of which are rare in Indiana. There is no developed trail system at this site. Because we will be walking through tall vegetation in meadows, sand prairie and savanna, long pants are suggested.
Warren Dunes State Park, Berrien County, MI (Saturday All-Day – Departs 8 AM)
This magnificent Michigan state park is located about 15 miles north of the Indiana border. The park is popular for its 2.5 miles of undeveloped Lake Michigan shoreline and its dramatically high dunes (greater than 200 feet). The wetlands offer one of southwest Michigan’s premier birding sites in the spring. Botanically, the park is very diverse with over 740 species of plants, which include 10 state-listed species. Pam Smith, a former park ranger at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore who recently completed her graduate work on the biodiversity of Warren Dunes, will co-lead the trip with Mike Latus, naturalist at the park. The hike will include dunes, forested areas and wetlands that highlight the park’s biodiversity. Plants of interest include prairie trillium, climbing fumitory and Pitcher’s thistle. We will picnic at the park and continue our hike after lunch. Due to hilly and sandy terrain, the hike will be moderately difficult.
Pinhook Bog (INDL) & Bluhm Woods (Saturday Morning and Sunday Morning)
Pinhook Bog is one of the few remaining true kettle-hole bogs in Indiana. It is cradled by a clay-lined depression on the Valparaiso Moraine. Its floating sphagnum mat supports carnivorous pitcher plants and sundews, several orchid species, cranberry, highbush blueberry, tamarack, poison sumac and other bog specialties. Jerry Wilhelm’s compilation of Indiana Dunes plants indicates over half of the 28 species of sphagnum found in Indiana occur here. Bog bladderwort has also been found here (discovered by Tony Reznicek). The National Lakeshore has arranged for an NPS Ranger-led trip of the bog for our group at 11 AM on both Saturday and Sunday mornings. Because the habitat is fragile, each trip is limited to 15 people. The bog is accessed over a boardwalk. Rubber boots are usually not needed. Hiking boots should suffice. Before going to Pinhook Bog, our group will stop at nearby Bluhm Woods County Park, where we’ll visit a 30-acre natural area that features hiking trails through mature deciduous woods with abundant wildflowers. Our leader will be Susan Bagby, a local botany and birding enthusiast, who grew up in the Dunes and works and lives near Bluhm Woods. This trip is rated is easy.
Miller Woods (IDNL) (Saturday Morning and Sunday Afternoon)
Miller Woods in Gary is the western gateway to the National Lakeshore. It is a 75-acre site that may be the purest bit of duneland topography in the park, featuring rolling black oak savanna with interspersed ponds. At least 287 species of flora and fauna have been identified at Miller Woods, including the Karner blue butterfly. The 1 to 1 & 1/2 mile long Miller Woods Trail includes a marsh overlook boardwalk that allows for close examination of the wetlands at the woods’ center. The hiking is described as easy. Miller Woods underwent an ambitious reclamation project in 1999, with over 14,000 pounds of century long accumulated junk airlifted out by helicopters in a National Park Service effort. Controlled burns are implemented in ongoing research on the effects of fire on native and nonnative species in Miller Woods. Robin Scribailo, a professor of biology at Purdue University will be leading the hike in Miller Woods. Dr. Scribailo’s education includes a B.S. 1979, from Carleton University (Biology), an M.S. 1983, University of Guelph (Botany) and a Ph.D. 1989, University of Toronto (Botany). He specializes in wetland ecology and current research includes conservation ecology and genetics of rare charophytes and aquatic vascular plants, development of innovative lake management strategies and floral and shoot development in the Araceae.
Taltree Arboretum & Gardens, Valparaiso, IN (Saturday Morning)
Taltree Arboretum & Gardens is poised at the cusp of several extraordinary geological crossroads. The eastern portion of the region that is today the Midwest was once wooded with savanna and prairie openings scattered throughout. The western edge was primarily tall grass prairie that swept to the mountains in the west. Taltree is located on the eastern edge of what was once the beginning of that tall grass prairie. Taltree is working to restore an example of the prairie that existed in this region when Indiana became a state. Taltree Arboretum and Gardens contains a mixture of upland oak-hickory woodlands, savanna woodlands, wetlands and a large prairie area that is managed to maintain native conditions. The topography is relatively flat, alternating with gently rolling hills in an area where glacial moraines were created thousands of years ago. In 1990, Damien and Rita Gabis purchased 72 acres of land in Union Township, Porter County, Indiana and constructed a residence on the property. With additional land purchases, the property grew to its present size of 360 acres and came to be known as Taltree. Initial groundwork for the arboretum began in 1996. Since then, significant funds have been invested to support continuing conservation, ecological, horticultural and educational activities. Hiking trails were constructed, wetlands and prairies were created with the pre-settlement landscape in mind and the management of invasive flora began. Given Taltree's natural history and namesake, the Gabis family began the property's first formal tree collection by acquiring 48 species of oak acorns in 1997. Later that year the Gabis Family Foundation was established as an Indiana not-for-profit corporation to fund and operate Taltree. In 2002, the Foundation became the Taltree Arboretum & Gardens Foundation. Short (1/2 mile) to longer (3 miles) of easy to moderate hiking trails wind through 80 acres of oak woodland, tall grass prairie and wetland plantings and restorations. Naida Lehmann, BS, MS, PhD, will be leading our hike at Taltree. Naida is a botanist with Taltree Arboretum and Gardens and has also worked as a botanist for the National Park Service at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
Indiana Dunes State Park (Saturday Morning and Sunday Morning – Departs 8 AM)
Indiana Dunes State Park was established in 1925 decades before the National Lakeshore that now surrounds it. The State Park includes the1530-acre Dunes Nature Preserve with over 15 miles of hiking trails through woodland, marsh, and across nearly 200-foot high dunes. Our hike at the Dunes Preserve will cover a 3-mile loop over parts of Trails 2 and 10. For the most part, the trails are flat and easy. We will walk through mature flatwoods in the backdune community, but will also visit some higher-ground communities. Because the State Park is expected to very busy on this holiday weekend, please note these trips will depart at 8 AM, the same as the All-Day trips. On Saturday morning, John Ervin, restoration ecologist at the park for the Indiana DNR, will lead the hike. On Sunday morning, White Pine Chapter members Chip Schaddelee and Bill Martinus will lead the hike. Chip and Bill are recently retired teachers who have spent considerable time exploring and documenting botanically interesting places and tracking down rare plants and animals. Chip has been working on a book, “American Wildflower Hotspots.”
Indiana Dunes Fungi (Saturday Afternoon and Sunday Afternoon)
The Indiana Dunes are familiar territory for our leader, John W. Rippon, retired professor from the University of Chicago, Dept. of Medicine. With appointments in Microbiology and Botany, his specialty is Medical Mycology, having written a text, now in its fourth edition, Medical Mycology: The Pathogenis Fungi and Pathogenic Actinomycetes. In his general mycology class, “Our Moldy World”, he used the Indiana Dunes for class field trips. He suggests that participants bring hand lenses and a mushroom field guide to this easy to moderate field trip. Dr. Rippon expects the familiar spring fungi, Morels, Earthstars, Helvellas, Scarlet Cups and other Ascos, as well as a few mushrooms. The perennial wood rots can also be expected.
Howes Prairie (IDNL) (Saturday Afternoon)
This site, in the National Lakeshore near Dune Acres, is the largest and highest quality sand prairie in the dunes. A 185-acre complex of black oak savanna, mesic woods, tallgrass mesic prairie and wet prairie, Howes lies in a bowl-shaped basin tucked between dunes and Cowles Bog. About 4000 years ago when Lake Michigan levels were significantly higher, the area was likely much wetter than today. Although some plant species persist from that period, oak savanna and prairie replaced the white and jack pine-dominated community as climate and lake level changed over the past several 1000 years. The area is named for Lois Howes, a Dune Acres resident who studied the flora here from the early 1940s. She noted that prairie species declined with fire suppression. In the 1980s, the USGS at the National Lakeshore began to study the effects of fire in Howes Prairie. We will learn about the results of those studies. Due to the kindness of MBC member and Dune Acres resident Barbara Plampin, we will be able to park in her driveway and access Howes Prairie without having to climb over dunes. This time of year, late spring/early summer prairie wildflowers, including lupine, puccoon and false indigo, should be in bloom. This trip is rated moderately easy, but will require walking over sand. Leading the trip will be Tyler Bassett, a restoration specialist with Native Connections and an MBC SWC member, who has also conducted plant and animal inventories for Michigan Natural Features Inventory and the Kalamazoo Nature Center.
Sedges (Saturday Afternoon and Sunday Morning)
Tony Reznicek will lead our study of sedges at the Dunes. The Indiana Dunes offer a great diversity of habitats in a small area, and are well known for their floristic richness, especially disjunct species from more boreal, southern and western floras. Sedges are no exception, and while it will be too early for some groups of sedges, Carex in particular should be in perfect condition for recognition and study this time of year. These trips will look at the important sedges of major Indiana Dunes ecosystems, as time allows. The focus will be field recognition of common and widespread species, recognition of major groups of species, interpretation of floral features in the field with only a hand lens, and use of vegetative features and features of the growth form to identify species and species groups. We will also have a chance to comment on particular species that are of value in indicating specific ecosystem conditions. The trips are rated easy to moderate. For the most part, we will be on trails, but be prepared for wet feet, rain and perhaps bugs. Tony is Curator of Vascular Plants at the University of Michigan Herbarium. He is also a Director of the Michigan Natural Areas Council and the Chairman of the Endangered Species Technical Committee for Plants, Michigan DNR.
Ferns (Trail #2 in State Park) (Saturday Afternoon)
Dave Hamilla is an educated paleontologist, turned geologist who is now doing private consulting with an abiding interest in plants. He brought his botanical expertise to Taltree Arboretum and Gardens, Shirley Heinze Foundation, Dunes State Park, the Valparaiso Chain of Lakes, “Bioblitz” projects and Coffee Creek Nature Preserve. His consultations include habitat restoration, wetland assessments and mitigations and native floristic quality assessments at numerous locations in northwest Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland. His interest in ferns can be best understood when one becomes aware of the hybrids he has found which may even jump genus levels! His fieldwork is chronicled in his computer database as he has traveled eastern North America including the Indiana Dunes and environs. He will supply the trip participants with a CD of his database including approximately 240 scans and photos of ferns. The level of difficulty will be easy and about 2 miles round trip along Trail #2 on relatively level ground through a hydric forest and swamp environment. The ferns should be spectacular as botanists will be able to see at least three Osmundas in the same area and probably in spore state. We can also expect to see Grape, Lady, New York, Broad Beech, Christmas, Maidenhair, Sensitive, Bracken, Spinulose Wood and Crested Shield Ferns. Participants can expect to have a diversity treat of angiosperms as well as the pteridophytes.
Keiser Woods (IDNL) (Saturday Afternoon)
We will explore a hydromesophytic swamp fragment of the Great Marsh located in an interdunal area north of Hwy. 12. The Great Marsh in general has been greatly affected by human alterations but retains natural area qualities and vegetation in localized areas. Keiser Woods is a high quality old growth forest containing 75 species of deciduous woody plants alone. You can expect to see Fraxinus nigra (black ash), Cornus alternifolia (alternate-leaved dogwood), and Quercus bicolor (swamp white oak) (commonly found in minerotrophic conditions) coexisting with Nemopanthus mucronata (mountain holly), Rhus vernix (poison sumac), and Vaccinium atrococcum (more common in ombrotrophic situations) along with their respective herbaceous associates. Wilhelm (1990, Special Vegetation of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore) calls it “one of the most interesting remnant Natural Areas I have ever experienced.” A stable hydrology that does not seem to correlate with meteorological conditions suggests that it is an area of groundwater recharge. Depending on moisture levels, rubber boots might be advisable. The terrain is flat. Scott Namestnik, field botanist with the ecological consulting firm JFNew, and Charlotte Wolfe will lead the field trip. Scott received his Bachelors of Science degree in Botany with a Focus in Environmental Science from Miami University. Upon graduation, he worked for The Nature Conservancy in Southern Missouri as a field botanist, participating in a study on the effects of fire management on forest dynamics. Charlotte earned a PhD in 1999 with a focus on the hydrology of the wetlands of the Indiana Dunes including Keiser Woods. Prior to coming to Indiana she worked as a wetland scientist in South Carolina and Florida. She currently manages an 85 acre ecological farm near South Bend.
Kankakee Sands Preserve (TNC), Newton County, IN (Sunday All-Day – Departs 8 AM)
The Indiana Chapter of the Nature Conservancy’s Kankakee Sands Preserve, located about two hours from Michigan City, is a 7200-acre prairie restoration that connects several high quality natural areas. These areas represent remnants of the 2 million acres of native prairie and savanna that once carpeted northern Indiana. Kankakee Sands, which had been farmed for over 100 years, was acquired by TNC in 1997. The preserve is located within the historic bed of Beaver Lake, once the largest freshwater lake within Indiana. By 1900 it had been drained and the marsh and prairie that surrounded the lake were also plowed under. Once the Conservancy retires all the agricultural fields on this preserve, more than 20,000 contiguous acres will be protected natural area. Gus Nyberg, TNC’s director of field operations for the restoration project, will show us plantings that are transforming old sandy agricultural field to prairie, both dry and wet. More than 250 native species occur in some places in the restoration. The first plantings were done in 1998. Gus has been working at the project since 2000. If time allows, we will visit the on-site 120-acre native plant nursery and seed cleaning facility. This preserve is flat, but there are no paths. Although some areas are wet, rubber boots are not needed. Sunlight and mosquitoes can be abundant. Given the size of the area, the trip is rated moderately difficult. For more details about the preserve and the restoration project, please see the website for the Indiana Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/indiana/ . At the home page click on “Places we Protect” to find links to Kankakee Sands.
Hoosier (DNR) and Cressmoor Prairies (SHLT) (Sunday All-Day – Departs 8 AM)
Our first stop will be Hoosier Prairie State Nature Preserve in Griffith, Indiana. A large (over 400-acre), diversified complex of wet prairie, oak savanna, sedge meadow, and marshland, this Indiana DNR preserve has over 550 plant species inventoried. The high species diversity is due to the wide range of moisture conditions. Controlled burns are used to control invasion of woody species. A one-mile loop trail shows some of these habitats. Our next stop will be Cressmoor Prairie Nature Preserve in Hobart around noon. This 38-acre preserve, which is owned and managed by the Shirley Heinze Land Trust (SHLT), is the largest black-soil prairie preserve in Indiana. This was once the most common prairie type in Indiana. The prairie is responding well to ongoing restoration work. More than 250 plant species have been identified on the site. A one and a half mile trail system leads through the preserve. Trails on both properties are level and easy, as well as dry, unless there is recent heavy rain. Wear appropriate footwear and long pants. Dan McDowell, a local plant enthusiast and volunteer on the Shirley Heinze stewardship crew, will lead the walk at Hoosier Prairie. Myrna Newgent, a past president and current board member of Shirley Heinze Land Trust, will co-lead the Cressmoor hike with Dan.
Hobart Prairie Grove (IDNL) (Sunday Morning – Departs 8 AM)
This west unit of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is primarily oak and hickory woodland on silt loam soil, with white oak flatwoods and bur oak woodland on high, flat ground and red oaks in the ravines. The open bluffs overlooking Lake George have prairie and savanna species such as Vicia caroliniana (wood vetch), Lathryus venosus (veiny pea) Comandra richardsiana (false toadflax), Polygala senega (Seneca snakeroot), Amorpha canescens (leadplant), and Bouteloua curtipendula (side-oats grama). This woodland was historically more open savanna but as with many savannas, it has closed in with brush and young trees, including, in this case, hickories, basswood, maple and ash. The National Lakeshore has done some young tree removal this past fall. And a good part of the area has been recently burned or will be by spring 2006. The hike will be 2.5 to 3 miles long with some hills. The trip is rated moderately difficult. Because this area is about 45 minutes from Michigan City, please note this trip will depart the Holiday Inn at 8 AM, the same time as the All-Day trips. Our leader is botanist and conservationist Sandy O’Brien who has been working since the 1980’s on land preservation projects such as Hobart Prairie Grove. She is a former trustee of the Shirley Heinze Land Trust.
Little Calumet River Trail (IDNL) (Sunday Morning)
This hike takes us to an area rich in human history. It is believed that prehistoric people hunted mastodons here not long after the glaciers receded from the area about 14,000 years ago. Much later, over 1500 years ago, native Americans are thought to have settled here along the banks of the Little Calumet. In the early 1820s, a French-Canadian fur trader, Joseph Bailly, established a trading post here, conveniently at the intersection of a canoe route and two major Indian trails. We will start our hike near the historic Bailly Homestead. The trail crosses an oak ridge prairie and slopes down to floodplain woods along the Little Calumet River, one of the region’s principal rivers. Along this stretch of the Little Calumet, the riparian community is intact and of high quality. A boardwalk allows us to cross the river and explore the wetland on the river’s north side. This will be a relatively easy two-mile hike on paths. Our leader Young Choi is Professor of Biological Sciences at Purdue University Calumet. He has extensively researched and written about botanical restoration issues in the Indiana Dunes area over the past 12 years.
Dune Ridge Trail & Pitchers Thistle Research Area (IDNL) (Sunday Afternoon)
The Dune Ridge Trail starts at the Kemil Beach parking lot and ascends a 2000 year old dune ridge. Here we will see dry oak (Quercus velutina) savanna and views of the Great Marsh to the south. Noel Pavlovic, who is a plant ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey at Lake Michigan Ecological Research Station, will lead us on this trip. Noel received his undergraduate degree from Earlham College, masters degree in ecology from the University of Tennessee and Ph.D. in biology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Noel’s current research concerns understanding the relationship between savanna/woodland structure and biological diversity and pattern and process in prairie/savanna/woodland mosaics. This will lead to a fascinating look at comparing and contrasting the vegetation of the south and north slope and the effect of fire and savanna conservation. We will then view the eastern most population of Pitcher's thistle (Cirsium pitcheri) in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. We will discuss the management and conservation of this federally threatened species. If time permits we may also visit other nearby sites. This trip is rated moderately difficult.
Coffee Creek Center and Watershed Preserve (Sunday Afternoon)
The Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve is part of the planned community in Chesterton, IN that incorporates features designed to protect and enhance the biodiversity and water quality of the Coffee Creek corridor. The preserve, which was donated to the Coffee Creek Watershed Conservancy in 1999, includes nearly 5 miles of well-maintained trails that provide access to approximately 100 acres of restored/constructed tallgrass prairie, savanna and open wetlands, as well as 100 acres of remnant riparian forest. Over 500 species of plants and 100 species of birds have been documented here. The built community utilizes innovative systems designed to minimize adverse environmental impact, e.g., “level spreader” surface water collection. This trip is rated easy. We expect to walk a mile or so, depending on the desire of the group. Co-leading the trip will be Barbara Plampin, MBC member and Life Director of the Shirley Heinze Land Trust, and Steve Barker, Executive Director of the Coffee Creek Watershed Conservancy and a Project Manager for JFNew.
International Friendship Garden, Michigan City, IN (Sunday Afternoon)
Our field trip will take us along woodland trails and scenic gardens laid out in the rich alluvial soil of the Trail Creek Valley located on over 100 acres. Our guide will be a representative from the International Friendship Gardens. The gardens represent some of the leading countries around the world. Its mission is to promote world friendship through ethnic gardens, and enhance the lives of visitors by artistic, music and nature-related educational programs. Birth of the idea began at the 1933-1934 Chicago World’s Fair. The Stauffer brothers from Wakarusa, IN developed the garden and Dr. and Mrs. Frank Warren, developers of Pottawattomi Park, brought it to Michigan City. The original design included 18 countries but the new plan expands to 25 including, not only ethnic gardens, but prairie, bulb and children’s gardens. This trip will be rated as easy. There are several trails but all are less than a mile.
Ross Coastal Plain Marsh Preserve (TNC), Berrien County, MI (Monday AM)
The Nature Conservancy’s 1450-acre Ross Preserve lies on the stabilized dunes of the Algonquin epoch (a postglacial high lake-level period about 11,000 years ago). Of special interest in this preserve are interdunal swales where several state endangered and unique plants such as Aristida necopina (three-awn grass), Ludwigia alternifolia (seedbox), Rhexia virginica (meadow beauty) and Solidago (Euthamia) remota (coastal plain goldenrod) occur. These plants, called coastal disjuncts, are wetland species that occur in East Coast marsh and tidal flat areas and the interdunal wetlands along the shores of Lake Michigan, but not in between. Leading the trip will be Chuck Nelson, director of the 800-acre Sarett Nature Center for the past 34 years. We will meet Chuck at Sarett at 10:30 AM Michigan time and carpool to nearby Ross Preserve. After the trip, we are welcome to eat our box lunches at the Nature Center. We are also welcome to walk Sarett’s trails, which include extensive boardwalks through beautiful wetlands in the Paw Paw River watershed. This area is about an hour from Michigan City, a short distance off I-94. The Ross Preserve hike is rated moderately difficult.
Ambler Flatwoods (SHLT) (Monday AM)
Ambler Flatwoods is the largest protected example of a boreal flatwoods in Indiana. It boasts over 300 native plant species, including relict populations of species normally found much farther north. Flatwoods occur on level ground that has an underlying layer of clay. Because the land is poorly drained, water covers much of the woodland during wet times of the year. This forested site displays the classic “pit and mound” topography that attests to the role of disturbance in a community that people may often think of as “climax.” This is a wet site with potential for mosquitoes, but we should be able to stay dry in hiking boots on the developed trail system. Paul Quinlan, Stewardship Program Manager for the Shirley Heinze Land Trust, will lead this trip, which is rated easy.
We wish to thank all the people who have agreed to lead field trips and present indoor programs at this 2006 Spring Foray. We very much appreciate their willingness to share their time and their favorite places with us over the memorial Day holiday. We would also like especially to acknowledge those who, for many months, provided invaluable assistance with field trip and program planning. Emma Pitcher, who once lived and conducted research in the Indiana dunes, shared her extensive collection of materials about the dunes and gave us a critically important list of persons she recommended we contact. Then late last fall, we met with a number of folks associated with the Shirley Heinze Land Trust in northern Indiana – Barbara Plampin (who is also an MBC member), Myrna Newgent, Terry Bonace (also an MBC member) and Robin Scribailo – to draft a proposed list of field trips and possible leaders. We appreciate their continuing patience and cooperation as over the next several months they responded to our frequent phone calls, to Barbara in particular, requesting additional help as our planning progressed. We are most grateful for the overwhelmingly positive responses we have received from so many people to our requests for assistance.