September 13, 2022

(click HERE to download PDF)

Two New TLC Preserves
Kimball and Clyde Townships, Saint Clair County

The TLC acquired two new preserves in the August 11 State land auction for Saint Clair, Sanilac, Lapeer, and Macomb Counties. They aren't big, but contain valuable habitat and were part of the Port Huron State Game Area. The State of Michigan determined that these were surplus parcels. We are thankful that we can keep them in the public domain.

The largest parcel we acquired is 8.5 acres of forest at the southwest corner of Flinchbaugh Road and Barth Road in Kimball Township, Saint Clair County, outlined in yellow on the following aerial photograph. The parcel is completely forested and located in an area of well-document Painted Trillium occurrence, a Michigan Endangered wildflower that is now recorded only from Saint Clair County in all of Michigan.

Kimball Preserve
8.5 acres at the southwest corner of Flinchbaugh Road and Barth Road in Kimball Township.

We also acquired a 2.78-acre parcel north of Bryce Road in Clyde Township, Saint Clair County, the narrow strip outlined in yellow near the top of the following aerial photograph. This parcel is also forested and located in a known Painted Trillium area. It is located adjacent to the Port Huron State Game Area (PHSGA) and is only several hundred feet west of our Bob Putze conservation easement. The parcel is also located only about a half mile north of the Michigan Nature Association Mary Stallins Ray Memorial Plant Preserve. As shown, there is still a lot of State land in the area, all part of the Port Huron State Game Area, but all at risk of expanding development and other land-use. The AMC - Mid Michigan Materials Burgess sand pit is just several hundred feet to the north of our new preserve (see the lake to the north) where Ruby Tree Farm was, and they own other nearby parcels. We must be diligent if we want to protect the Port Huron State Game Area for the long-term.

Clyde Preserve
2.78-acre parcel north of Bryce Road in Clyde Township

Bidwell Sanctuary August Stewardship
Burtchville Township, Saint Clair County
Chëkhònèsink hìtkwike schind lèkuwake -
Place among hemlock trees on sandy ground with sound of waves breaking – Lenape

Thanks to the leadership of TLC Program Assistant, Blake Short and TLC Board Member, Dan Rhein, we continue to make progress on trail development and stewardship on the Bidwell Sanctuary in Burtchville Township. Blake and Dan coordinated an intense work schedule on August 13, 17, 19, and 20, clearing about 1/4 mile of the Southern Lake Huron Coastal Trail, removing invasive shrubs and cleaning up scattered junk. Thank you to all who participated, including TLC member Connie Bates, President of the Clyde Historical Society, and TLC Member Tom Dennis.

Bidwell Santuary
The coastal trail continues north on the Bidwell Sanctuary

Coastal Trail

Loznak Sanctuary Stewardship
Marysville, Saint Clair County
Yänhdawa’ yeh de yenhta’ iyaen’ - The Prairie is Near the River - Huron - Wendat

Thanks to the consistent "slow haste" this summer of TLC Board Member Dan Rhein, the Loznak Sanctuary is shaping up and new things are being discovered. Dan has essentially adopted the Sanctuary, removing invasive weeds, cleaning up debris along the railroad spur, digging up buried material and industrial artifacts, and restoring soil and native vegetation cover. About once a week, Dan updates us on his latest work and his observations.

Loznak Santuary
Dan Rhein's quarry

Invasive weed cover is relatively low on the Loznak Sanctuary, consisting largely of scattered Autumn-olive, unidentified ornamental pear trees, sparse patches of Phragmites Reed, and Spotted Knapweed in the remnant lakeplain prairie, and buckthorn in the adjoining forest to the west. Dan has been pulling and digging, making more room for the impressive mix of Riddell's Goldenrod, Showy Goldenrod, Stiff Goldenrod, Gray Goldenrod, Fringed Gentian, Rough Blazing-star, and Tall Boneset that are in all their glory in September and provide vital nutrition to migrating insects like the Monarch butterfly.

Loznak Santuary
Monarch butterflies on Tall Boneset

Loznak Santuary
Rough Blazing-star

Of equal interest are the many bricks, fragments, metal scraps, and pieces of things that apparently date back to the industrial use of the property during World War II to produce munitions. At some point, we will take inventory of all these items and see if we can determine their origins and purpose.

Tranquil Ridge Sanctuary
Dryden Township, Lapeer County

We had nice weather on September 1 and a productive stewardship day on our Tranquil Ridge Sanctuary, formerly known as Duthler Ridge Sanctuary. Rick decided he wanted a new name. Our special guest was Kathy Dickens, Executive Director of the Four County Community Foundation based in Almont. In May of this year, the Foundation awarded the TLC a grant of $2,000 to fund stewardship and improvements on the preserve. Thanks also to TLC Program Assistant Blake Short, TLC Board Member Kay Cumbow, and TLC President Cheryl Collins for all of your work.

Tranquil Ridge Santuary
Left to right: TLC Program Assistant Blake Short, TLC Board Member Kay Cumbow, TLC President Cheryl Collins, and Four County Community Foundation Executive Director Kathy Dickens

The preserve is already a beautiful place, providing an impressive view over a large forest valley and Brooks Lake below. However, there is always room for improvement. We are gradually removing some old junk from an adjacent cottage that was demolished years ago, removing some invasive shrubs, and cutting Black Locust trees which, although apparently native to south-central North America, are invasive in Michigan. Black Locust wood is very rot-resistant and makes great posts that are known to last for a century or more.

Tranquil Ridge Santuary
A "girdled" Black Locust, to be cut down on another work day

Tranquil Ridge Santuary
Blake putting his back into it, pulling Common Privet shrubs near Lake George Road

Tranquil Ridge Santuary
Surveyor, Rick Duthler, marked the property corners for us with concrete monuments

The TLC is planning on a few more stewardship days on the preserve this fall. If you are interested in helping, please contact us. More information about the Four County Community Foundation is available on their web site at:

Port Huron State Game Area Day
September 24, Saturday, 9:00 am to 3:00 pm

Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Division staff are hosting a tour of the Port Huron State Game Area on Saturday, September 24, from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. The MDNR field office at 6181 Lapeer Road in Kimball Township will serve as the central meeting location, where MDNR staff will be set-up and interact with attendees. The primary goals for this event are to:

  • To increase awareness of State Game Areas and to make them more accessible to users, including hunters and non-hunters
  • Showcase the Port Huron State Game Area
  • Make DNR Wildlife Division staff and local partners more accessible
  • Celebrate and showcase MDNR partnerships with the public
Walk N Talk Flyer

The TLC is encouraged by this well-deserved attention to one of the most significant natural areas in our region. Several of our members have promoted the Port Huron State Game Area, including Bob Haas who worked for the MDNR Fisheries Division for many years, authored the Black River Assessment, and just passed away in June. See the Black River Assessment report at this link:

Black River Assessment Report

TLC Member John Fody did much of the field work to produce the 2012 Natural Features Inventory and Management Recommendations for Port Huron State Game Area by the Michigan Natural Features Inventory. See the report at this link: 05.pdf. In addition, John has been removing invasive weeds in the Game Area and encouraged the TLC to adopt our own weed removal area. Before the TLC existed, Janice Littlefield made a tremendous effort to discourage the development of the 800-acre Wingford Estate property in the heart of the Port Huron State Game Area. We could go on about others who have explored and promoted this great Black River valley wilderness.

The MDNR will provide further information on the event. Tour planning is underway and will include driving and walking. There will be activities for kids at the field office, including a nature loop they can check out. They will have combo kits of blaze orange hats and vests to give out, as well as some other goodies that are still to be determined/acquired. They will have two portable toilets on-site for the event.

Saginaw Bay Watershed Lake Sturgeon Release
September 24, Saturday, 11:00 am to 2:00 pm

For our members in the northwest of our territory and Saginaw Bay watershed, on the same day as the Port Huron State Game Area tour, local, state, and federal partners invite the public to a Lake Sturgeon release celebration on Saturday, September 24, 2022, ranging from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm, depending on location. Over 100 hatchery-raised Lake Sturgeon will be released at three locations, one each on the Cass, Shiawassee, and Tittabawassee Rivers, all tributaries of the Saginaw Bay Watershed. Short presentations may be made at three of the events by local partners.

The first Lake Sturgeon release will be at 11:00 am on the Tittabawassee River at the Bob G. Caldwell Municipal Boat in Midland. For more information, contact Jennifer Kirts at:

The second release will be at noon on the Shiawassee River at Cole Park in Chesaning. For more information, contact Sarah Baker at: The third release will be at 2:00 pm on the Cass River at the parking lot at the Gunzenhausen Walkway in Frankenmuth. For more information, contact Dan Hopp at:

Lake Sturgeon Reinduction Flyer

Lake Sturgeon are a unique Great Lakes species. They can grow up to 7 feet long and can weigh up to 300 pounds. The slow-maturing fish do not begin reproducing until they are 15 to 20 years old. Once abundant in many Michigan lakes and rivers, Lake Sturgeon were nearly eradicated due to over-fishing and habitat loss, particularly the destruction of rocky reefs in rivers that sturgeon and other native fish species use for spawning. In recent years, many partnerships and projects are working to restore sturgeon to a self-sustaining level in Michigan. This work includes restoring sturgeon habitat, reintroducing sturgeon into their native ranges, and raising awareness and appreciation for this unique species.

The Lake Sturgeon release events are supported by a variety of partners including City of Frankenmuth, Chippewa Nature Center, Flint River Watershed Coalition, Friends of the Shiawassee River, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Sea Grant, Michigan State University Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, MSU Extension, Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network, Sturgeon for Tomorrow – Black Lake Chapter, The Conservation Fund, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and more. For more information about the Lake Sturgeon release and restoration efforts on the Saginaw Bay, see the following web sites:

Sturgeon Release Information

Saginaw Bay Sturgeon Website

Bidwell Sanctuary Information Kiosk
Southern Lake Huron Coastal Park
Chëkhònèsink hìtkwike schind lèkuwake -
Place among hemlock trees on sandy ground with sound of waves breaking – Lenape

The TLC is working on a design for an information kiosk to be located near the coastal trail entrance on the Bidwell Sanctuary in Burtchville Township. We are considering various designs and materials, using locally harvested wooden posts, sand stone fragments left on the Sanctuary from the former residence, and a sheet metal roof. The kiosk portion of the structure will be roundish with panels to post information about the Bidwell Sanctuary, the ancient beach ridge (or dune) and swale ecosystem along Lake Huron, the Southern Lake Huron Coastal Park and Trail, project supporters, and the TLC.

In April of this year, the TLC was awarded a grant for $4,500 from the Bioregion Reparation Fund, a donor-advised fund established by the Full Circle EcoHouse of Prayer of Port Huron and administered by the Community Foundation of Saint Clair County. Sister Veronica Blake and Sister Concepción González, who are well-known members of the Blue Water area environmental community, initiated the Bioregion Reparation Fund in 2018 in order to carry on their legacy of ecological education, spirituality, and restoration in the bioregion defined by Lake Huron, the Saint Clair River and the Black River watersheds.

Thank you again to the the Full Circle EcoHouse of Prayer and administrators of the Bioregion Reparation Fund.

CYO Girls Camp
Forester Township, Sanilac County

Back in May of this year, the pending sale of the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) Girls Camp south of Forester came to our attention. The camp has been used for decades by the CYO of the Archdiocese of Detroit as a summer camp for girls. It is just over 24 acres with about 1,000 feet of shoreline on Lake Huron, mature forest, dune and swale landscape, and a stream that runs through the middle of the camp. There are several buildings including a central hall and cabins. The CYO plans to sell this camp and continue their program for girls and boys at the CYO Boys Camp south of Port Sanilac.

CYO Girls Camp For Sale

Saving a property like the Girls CYO Camp fits the TLC mission almost perfectly. Most of our leadership got our start at local camps and have very fond memories of our experiences as youth. The TLC believes that our region should and can offer the public the very best camps and opportunities for outdoor recreation. This is particularly important for children. The Thumb has a lot of great things going for it if people will just look around. With more development and a growing population in Southeast Michigan, we should be increasing public access to the Great Lakes, not decreasing it. Obviously, maintaining access to the Great Lakes is very important.

In June, local organizations working to promote youth, families, churches, outdoor recreation, and the environment signed a TLC support letter urging the CYO to seriously consider a sale that will keep the property as a camp. Sign-on supporters included: Camp Cavell of Lexington; Bridge Builders Counseling and Mentoring of Port Huron; the Blue Water District Commissioner of the Boy Scouts of America in Saint Clair, Sanilac, and Huron Counties; Thumb Outdoor Alliance of Croswell; Cass River Greenway of Frankenmuth; Presbyterian Villages of Michigan in Southfield and Fort Gratiot; Mooretown Brethren In Christ Church of Sandusky; Blue Water Audubon Society of Saint Clair County; Save Our Neighborhoods and Streets Outreach of Port Huron; and Operation Transformation of Port Huron.

We asked that the Catholic Youth Organization consider not only the monetary value of the camp, but its social and environmental values to our community according to the encyclical Laudato si' by Pope Francis, subtitled On Care For Our Common Home. The encyclical describes not only our responsibilities regarding environmental issues, but also to the poor. With ever increasing private development along the lakeshore, significant habitat is being destroyed and opportunity for Great Lakes access by the underprivileged is decreasing. Camps like the Girls CYO Camp have been sold at an alarming rate in recent years, many of them for private development benefiting only a very few people. Camps are places where we can really experience creation, a common home, and a common humanity that makes the world a better place.

Not knowing exactly how we would raise the necessary funds to purchase the CYO Camp, the TLC submitted a substantial offer in May. We have had encouraging discussions with Sanilac County and various groups and individuals that could provide funding and support for this acquisition. Based on further discussions with the CYO representative, the TLC has since increased its offer. Time will tell if the CYO gives us the opportunity to acquire the camp. In addition, this is a test of the resolve of the State of Michigan and outdoor recreation industry to invest in getting people outdoors and public access to the Great Lakes in our region.

Fall Stewardship

Details will be sent in future e-mails. If you want to work on your own on any of these, let us know.

Date Activity Location
September - December Clean-up and restoration North Street Station
September - December Trail and park entrance work Bidwell Sanctuary
September - December Clean-up and restoration Tranquil Ridge Sanctuary

Broad-winged Hawk, Buteo platypterus
By Tom Dennis

CYO Girls Camp For Sale
Photo Credit, Roy Churchill, Blue Water Audubon

Late September, specifically September 22 in 2020, marks the autumnal equinox. This event marks the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator, an imaginary line in the sky above Earth’s equator, from north to south (and south to north in March for vernal or spring equinox). September also marks the beginning of “Hawk Watch,” which extends through November in Michigan. Hawks, as well as other raptors and Turkey Vultures, are counted, largely by trained volunteers, at five sites in the state; Detroit River, Whitefish Point, Mackinaw Straits, Brockway Mountain, and Port Crescent. Each of these sites is strategically chosen since they are locations where the birds can cross relatively short distances across large bodies of water that would otherwise be difficult for soaring birds to travel without expending precious energy. The raptors depend on the rising thermal air currents from the sun-warmed Earth to provide lift and allow them to soar large distances. All that said, sunny days are best for these birds to travel and the best time to sight them traveling as they travel south to warmer climates for the winter.

Broad-winged Hawks are an interesting species locally for a few interesting reasons. The first reason being they are usually seen only for a few weeks during spring and fall migration. Since they spend summers nesting and raising young in dense forests throughout northern and eastern North America but mostly in boreal forests in Canada, they winter in Southern Mexico and South America. While some individuals accept living near humans, even those birds avoid human settlements and interactions. Local sightings are rare except during their long-distance travels. They make their migration flights in large flocks that are commonly called “kettles,” which often contain hundreds of individuals at such heights that they appear as specks of pepper to the naked eye. The fall migration is larger due to the addition of new fledglings, and it typically peaks in Michigan from mid-to-late September. Research has shown that they usually migrate about 4,300 miles, traveling an average of 70 miles per day. When migrating to South America, they avoid crossing large bodies of saltwater. There are several small populations on the Caribbean Islands that are year-round residents, including endangered sub-species with a population of about 100 birds in Puerto Rico.

Like many raptors, the Broad-winged Hawk is relatively drably colored, but they are easily distinguished from other hawks by a few features. The adult’s body is dark brown with a white belly and chest with horizontal rufous barring. The short, broad wings come to a distinctive point and are white underneath with a dark border on the wingtips and trailing edge. The tail is relatively short with distinctive dark banding. There are two types of coloration; a dark morph with fewer white areas and a light morph that is pale overall. Like most raptors, the females are slightly larger than males. They average 15 inches in length, have a wingspan of about 35 inches, and weigh an average of 16 ounces, approximately the size of the American Crow. Their call is a high-pitched and whistle-like “kee-ee” and is used for communication with their mate and offspring and displays toward intruders or threatening predators, including larger raptors that feed on adults and many mammals that may eat the eggs and young.

They are carnivorous feeding on small mammals, frogs, lizards, insects, small birds, snakes, and crabs. Unlike many raptors, they give special attention to food preparation and will skin frogs and snakes and pluck birds prior to consumption. They rarely drink water and are able to survive with the water present in their food.

If you would like to see a Broad-winged Hawk, I recommend you visit Lake Erie Metropark in Gibraltar, Michigan on a mostly sunny day during September or October. You can also check Detroit River Hawk Watch monitoring at Detroit River Hawk Watch for count data, events, hawk identification, and other news about migration.

If you wish to learn more about birds you are welcome to attend Blue Water Audubon meetings held at The Point, 5085 Lakeshore Road, in Fort Gratiot. Please visit our Facebook page, "Blue Water Audubon Society", for meeting details and be sure to friend us.

Tom Dennis is a free-lance writer, passionate birder, zoologist, creation scientist, and naturalist.

Clyde Historical Society

Our partner organization, the Clyde Historical Society, has a few events planned for this fall. All are open to the public.

October 16 - Kinney Cemetery Walk, featuring prominent settlers, 1:00 to 4:00 PM, no charge. West of the Clyde Township Hall at 3350 Vincent Road, Saint Clair County For more information, see the Clyde Historical Society Facebook page at: CHS Facebook Page.

Marcia Haynes

Marcia Haynes, 90, of Port Huron, passed away on May 13, 2022. Aside from being a very generous business woman with a sharp wit and great sense of humor, Marcia was a long-time advocate and organizer to save history in Michigan. Marcia was critical in the founding of the Port Huron Museum and the Carnegie Library in 1968. She lead efforts to preserve the Round Island Lighthouse in the Straits of Mackinac in the early 1970's. She led historic tours at Lakeside Cemetery in Port Huron for several decades. Marcia served on the Saint Clair County Community College Board of Trustees in the 1980's and a variety of other boards and groups. She also worked to spread awareness of the need for Alzheimer’s research and resources after her husband Fred was diagnosed. Marcia founded the local Dementia and Alzheimer’s Resource committee. Marcia most recently helped lead the effort to preserve the historic Pere Marquette Railroad Bridge over the Black River in Port Huron, and lobbied local leaders to keep Silver Trails Scout Reservation near Jeddo from becoming a gravel pit.

Marcia Haynes' father, Fred Rouse, was part of the original Boy Scout committee that selected Silver Trails Scout Reservation as the Blue Water Council camp back in the early 1940's. Silver Trails was home to the Scouts of the former Blue Water Council across Saint Clair and Sanilac Counties. Located about 2 miles west of Jeddo along the Black River, Silver Trails was one of the greatest camps in Southeast Michigan, in a near perfect setting of 270 acres with mature forest, secluded camp sites, miles of trails, Silver Creek, Black River, an impressive terrain, a large events field, numerous cabins, a kitchen and dining hall, and other facilities. With the addition of the planned lake on the north part of the camp, Silver Trails would offer an outstanding waterfront program.

In 2019, the nightmare of losing Silver Trails Scout Reservation to a gravel company suddenly became real. The newly consolidated Michigan Crossroads Council determined that they could no longer afford the camp and sold it. As a result, local Scout units are still looking for a place that lives up to Silver Trails. During this traumatic year, Marcia and TLC Executive Director, Bill Collins, regularly spoke by phone to update and strategize. Even at 88 and experiencing serious health issues, Marcia assisted our effort to oppose the sale and persuade local officials to save Silver Trails. Among other efforts, Marcia met with the Saint Clair County Parks and Recreation Board and Saint Clair County Commissioners. Marcia also was present at the big meeting with Michigan Crossroads Council executive staff at Silver Trails where they clearly heard the protests of a huge crowd of Scouts, Scouters, Scouting families, and community leaders. For now, our work did not pay off, but Marcia's enthusiasm and encouragement are not forgotten.

Marcia's favorite poem was The Dash. The poem explains that it is not the year of birth nor the year of death that tells the story of one's life, but rather, the dash in between those years. Her dash was one that was filled with love and service above self. Here is a link to Marcia’s obituary: Marcia Haynes Obituary

Ecology News

Opinion: You — Yes, You! — Can Help The Planet. Start In Your Backyard

Sent to us by TLC Member Connie Neese. Thank you Connie.

Fall Backyard Gardening Tips

The Insect Crisis: The Fall Of The Tiny Empires That Run The World

But you can help insects in your own little kingdom.

Some insects are disappearing...

Potter Park Zoo Encourages People To Help Save Monarch Butterfly Population

A Michigan effort. Along with milkweed, plant native flowers like goldenrod, asters, and sunflower. Swallowtail butterflies like dill.

Save Monarch Butterflies...

Beloved Monarch Butterflies Are Now Listed As Endangered

Well ... Listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, but not the United States.

Monarch Butterflies Now An Endangered Species

Wildlife conservation tends to save charismatic species. That may be about to change.

Protection of whole systems makes saving single species easier.

Wildlife conservation tends to save charismatic species

Canadian Researchers Seek Paths For Animals To Migrate In Response To Climate Change

Animals and native plants will need our help to move past roads, farm land, and development.

Paths For Animals To Migrate

Why Suppressing Wildfires May Be Making The Western Fire Crisis Worse

Yet another article making the case for sensible fire management.

Making The Western Fire Crisis Worse

Decades Of 'Good Fires' Save Yosemite's Iconic Grove Of Ancient Sequoia Trees

Yosemite National Park began regular intentional burns in the early 1970s. "So it could have been a very different outcome if we hadn't been preparing for this fire for decades".

'Good Fires' Save Yosemite's Sequoia Trees

Should You Feed Birds?

This article is particular to Britain, but pertinent to any region. Feeding may do more harm than good. Let moderation be your guide. There are other ways to help wild birds. Plant natives, restore habitat, provide open water, leave leaves, and no mow ... let it grow.

Should You Feed Birds?

TLC Membership

With your membership, the TLC is better enabled to protect important natural areas in our region. We offer three membership levels as shown below: Individual $25, Family $30, and Business $100. Members will receive our e-mail news. Some of you are members based on your previous donations, volunteer efforts, or other help. You can also make donations in honor or memory of someone or something. For donations of $100 or more, your name will be listed on our web site. For larger donations, please contact us for details. You may print and complete the form below. Make checks payable to “Thumb Land Conservancy”. Mail checks and forms to: Thumb Land Conservancy, 4975 Maple Valley Road, Marlette, Michigan 48453. Make sure you provide us with your mailing address and e-mail address. Providing a phone number is optional but helpful.

You can also make donations through the Square link on our Support TLC webpage.

To download and print the membership form, click HERE.

Thumbland Conservancy Logo William Collins
Executive Director
Thumb Land Conservancy
4975 Maple Valley Road
Marlette , Michigan USA 48453