Drink it up

Local farmers speak of the “million dollar rains” that the area has experienced lately. Dry spells (without rain for several days, or even weeks) are common in northern Michigan throughout the summer months. The usual consequences are that residents manually water their vegetable and flower gardens, or farmers run their irrigation systems.

The expanse of tree roots

We often don’t realize how dry spells and droughts affect the forests of our area. Obviously young trees and seedlings with their shallow root systems will struggle to survive hot weather with a lack of moisture. What is less obvious is the effects of dry weather on older, more established forests. Rains of less than inch may help your lawn grass grow (the roots are inches from the surface), but small amounts of rain do little to alleviate dry conditions in the deep rooting zone of trees. 

Trees like firs and spruces have much of their roots within 2 feet of the soil surface. They will struggle earlier than the deeper rooted hardwoods, but they will also benefit earlier from rain relief. Hardwoods, however, often have a delayed or accumulating effect of prolonged dry weather. One species that is still suffering from several recent dry summers is our sugar maple. Sugar maple does grow on our sandy soils, but it prefers a richer soil with more moisture. Die-back of branches in the upper crown is a common sight of sugar maple trees. This condition is, in part, caused by two successive dry and hot summers. So the next time you walk in the woods and you see wet trails, along with a healthy hatch of mosquitoes, remember that the trees are making up for two years of lost rains!

Larry Czelusta is the Missaukee and Wexford County Forester. Call or email to tap into his wealth of forest and landscape tree knowledge: 231.839.7193, larry.czelusta@macd.org .

Summer Bug Club

Join Missaukee Conservation District for Summer Bug Club, starting next week, to explore the wonderful world of bugs. Far from being the negatively portrayed “creepy crawlies,” insects are an interesting and important facet of our natural environment. From aquatic insect larvae (the life stage before adult) to the well-known & beautiful Monarch butterfly, insects can give us information about the habitat in which they live.

Scientists study and collect insects for what they call “biological indicators.” Certain insects require pristine environmental conditions and others can tolerate very polluted conditions. Insects are used as biological indicators very often in aquatic environments: lakes, rivers, streams, and ponds. Certain species can also be used in a laboratory setting in water quality and sediment tests. Pretty amazing, right?!

Other wildlife such as migratory birds, mountain lions, grey wolves, they sometimes receive the spotlight of a movie star. Protection of these species is very important, but so to is the protection of our smallest biological indicators–insects. They are often overlooked because they aren’t as glamorous as the Asian Tigers (those eyes!), or as cuddly as the Giant Panda. They are no less vital to environmental conservation. Monarch butterflies have become the face of insect conservation, and they are an excellent choice–smart, beautiful, with a little mystery, and recognizable (unless you mistake a Viceroy for a Monarch…) and plummeting populations. The Rusty Patch bumblebee is also beginning to share some of the minimal spotlight that is shed on insect species. Both are excellent symbols of the importance of conservation, but most insects get the “icky” reputation and companies have even been built on the destruction of their lives. Sure, not all insect species are decreasing in number, and not all of them should be on the threatened list. During bug club, we invite you to look past the stereotype, jump that first hurdle, and discover something new about those “creepy crawlies.” I’ll give you a first little morsel: spiders are not insects, and true bugs are just one of several orders of insects. That wasn’t a great morsel, but you’ll just have to join us to learn something more interesting!

Look for our flyer at the Ardis Library. Call our office to RSVP for these club events at least two days in advance, please: 231.839.7193. You can also visit us at 6180 W. Sanborn Rd. Lake City, explore the insects in our gardens and along our forested trail.

HHW 2017


There are a few changes to our collection this year:

  • First, we will be only able to offer one tire collection due to the new timeline of the DEQ grant requirements. The tire collection will be at the Missaukee County Road Commission. The first 7 passenger tires will be free and only $2 each after that. Large, oversized tires will cost $15; we are unable to accept tires that are taller than 4 feet and 12 inches wide.
  • Second, we are unable to take latex paint this year as our vendor is unavailable. Thankfully latex paint is not hazardous to you or the environment. Donate leftover paint to a neighbor or family project. Latex paint can easily be stirred back into beauty! If there isn’t much left or it’s starting to dry up you can finish the job in two ways: leave the lid off (in a safe place) or add sand or kitty litter to the can (to absorb the paint). Once it’s dried up it can be disposed of it in your regular trash.
  • Third, electronics will be limited to certain items this year–computer towers, laptops and circuit boards, hard drives, along with keyboards, computer speakers, mouse and printers ONLY. Batteries and ink cartridges must be removed, please.  Absolutely NO televisions or computer monitors will be accepted. The electronics will be collected at the Missaukee Recycling Center. Goodwill accepts flat screens.
  • Fourth, on-site paper shredding and household hazardous waste will be collected at the Missaukee County Road Commission.
  • Finally, the recycling center will be open as usual the same day collecting your happy, weekly recycle items!

Volunteers are still needed to assist with non-physical needs such as traffic directors, tally markers and assistants. Call our office: 231.839.7193 or email Becky at rebecca.bode@macd.org for volunteer sign up! Help us carry out our conservation mission!

More information (including a partial list of accepted items) can be found under the “Recycling” tab at the top of the page, or share our event on Facebook.

Becky Bode is the Recycling Center Coordinator & Recycling/Compost Educator. You can find her at the Missaukee County Recycling Center Saturdays, 9 am to 1 pm and Wednesdays, 9 am to 5 pm.

Garlic Mustard vs. Spring Wildflowers

It could prove to be a quick battle if spring wildflowers don’t get any support from their fans.

Spring wildflowers are part of the excitement of hiking after the long, dead winter. The delicate blooms are subtle, but can be overwhelming in their beauty. A forest floor covered with white trillium blooms, the feathery leaves of Dutchman’s breeches, or purple, smiling violets are sure to thrill even the frostiest of hearts.

Enter into the ring, spring wildflowers’ competitor: Garlic Mustard. This invasive species has several tough attributes:

  • It sprouts early in the spring and can shade out the competition.
  • It is a biennial and looks different and is very low to the ground the first year; as a second year plant it can grow up to 3 feet, has small, four-petaled, white flowers.
  • Uses allelopthay: the plant puts out a chemical in the ground that inhibits the growth of our native plants (aka spring wildflowers).
  • One plant can produce up to 3,000 seeds! Yikes!

I know, it seems like the odds are stacked against our beautiful, delicate spring wildflowers. They just need our help. Garlic mustard’s main weakness? It is easy to hand pull. Larger infestations may take several years to control. If they are caught earlier, it is just that much easier to control. I don’t want it to sound like a cake walk, but of the invasive species that are moving in and taking over garlic mustard is one of the easiest to deal with–chemicals are not needed, and if you grasp the plant very close to the ground, they are easy to pull out. To really knock out this competitor: double bag the plants in trash bags (black is good to bake them) and dispose in the landfill. Use the photos below to identify and keep a look out for the plants while hiking. If you do walk through garlic mustard during a forest adventure, be sure to clean your boots and clothes before leaving the area–the tiny seeds are easily spread in shoe and tire treads as well as on your pet’s fur.


Left: second year plants with white flowers and pointy, toothed leaves. Right: first year plants low to the ground, no flowers, and leaves more rounded. Report infestations to North Country Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (NCCISMA): email vicki.sawicki@macd.org or call 231.429.5072. Visit northcountryinvasives.org for more information.

Stream Team!

Spring stream monitoring is underway. Stream monitoring is a volunteer program through MiCorps which examines aquatic samples taken from rivers and streams throughout the state. The organisms living in the water body can tell us a great deal about its health. No need to be an expert at sampling or identification, just bring your enthusiasm! Missaukee Conservation District has a few volunteers that have adopted sites in the county.

  • Sue and Rick Nyce have adopted two monitoring sites: one at Hopkins Creek and one on the Manistee River.
  • Mrs. Clous and her High School Plant and Animal class will be adopting a site on Mosquito Creek on the MSU Research Station property.

And you can adopt a site too! Join stream enthusiast and conservation educator, Laura Quist, at Ben Jeffs River Park on Saturday, May 20, 2017 from 10 am to 2 pm. This is a public event, and we hope the day will inspire you to adopt a stream monitoring location of your own. Participants will use nets to gather macroinvertebrate samples from the Muskegon River. What could be more fun than an aquatic scavenger hunt in one of our counties most important rivers?! Find out just how great water sampling is at this community event. Groups, families, and individuals are all welcome to join. Equipment, snacks, and lunch will be provided. Call to RSVP by May 18.

2017 Forest Clean Up

Thanks to our wonderful volunteers, last year Missaukee Conservation District was able to fill a 30-yard (super big) dumpster with tires, furniture, and other random trash cleaned up from the Cadillac Pathways forest area. The pathway is more than hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. There are numerous ORV trails throughout the area, and these trails are also easily accessed by trucks or other road vehicles. Yard waste gets dumped. Broken furniture gets dumped. Tires get dumped. It can be difficult to find a place to recycle or reuse these large items. Dumping them in the forest is not a good solution. Through our forest clean up (which ideally won’t be an annual event) we hope to raise awareness about the misuse of public lands and the importance of keeping them free from trash and yard waste.

Okay, why can’t a person dump their yard waste wherever? It’s just leaves and sticks, and there are leaves and sticks in the forest, right? Indeed, there are leaves and sticks in the forest. The forest doesn’t need any extra detritus (dead stuff) to try and break down, it has plenty. More importantly, yard waste often has seeds and plant material that is not native to the natural forest. Invasive species can be introduced through yard waste and that would be a whole other beast to tame–more time, more resources, more money, more sad forest.

Help the Missaukee Conservation District clean up and spread the message about respecting our public lands. Saturday May 13, 9 am to 2 pm. A member of the Traverse Narcotics Team will give a short safety presentation in the morning. Come for a couple hours, or come all day–we love and appreciate all that our volunteers do! Trucks are welcome to help pick up these large items. Call 231.839.7193 for more information, or just show up!

Celebrate Arbor Day

In Michigan, Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday of April. The dates differ in each of the fifty states based on the regions’ suitability of planting. You may be surprised to learn that the first Arbor Day was celebrated over 100 years ago. In fact, this year marks 145 years of Arbor Day celebrations. The first Arbor Day was celebrated in Nebraska and over one million trees were planted on April 10, 1872!

Coincidentally, our Seedling Pick-up and Sale is the Saturday after Arbor Day. Those that ordered trees, you’re all set for an excellent tree celebration! For those that didn’t order trees, lucky for you, we still have some species available. You can plant a few or a hundred. Either way, the best way to commemorate Arbor Day and finish out Earth Month is planting trees!  Bring your family to our tree sale event and receive a free white pine seedling (the Michigan state tree) with this secret code: knock on the table three times, spin around, and say “pine tar.” 

Happy Arbor Day!

The Missaukee Conservation District Seedling Pick-up and Sale is being held at 4800 S. Morey Road, Lake City–Baker College Trucking School. Join us, 9 am to 4 pm for coffee, donuts, workshops, and TREES! 

We Love Trees!

…and fruit, and shrubs,too! The Seedling Sale pre-order window has closed, but all are welcome to join us at the seedling pick-up day whether you pre-ordered or just want to browse the leftovers. The American Basswood is just one of the species that we will have available for purchase during the event.

Deciduous tree native to North America

American Basswood, Tilia americana, is a low maintenance, shade tree. The yellow June flowers attract butterflies and bees. This native tree’s range reaches north to Manitoba, Canada, so you know it’s a hardy, winter fighter! It can tolerate clay soils and drought, however it prefers rich loam soils and full sun. The height and spread of the branches make it a lovely shade tree for the backyard. The common name of basswood is derived from bastwood, in reference to the tough inner bark (bast) which has been used to make rope and mats.

The trees are commercially harvested, particularly in the Great Lakes region, for their light wood; and honey made from the nectar of these flowers is a prized gourmet item. Talk to Jeff Fewless, CTAI, about American Basswood and whether it is right for you! Call 231.839.7193 or chat at the Seedling Pick-up event. 



Fragrant, pale yellow blooms

A great shade tree








Missaukee Conservation District Seedling Sale pick-up is April 29, 2017 from 9am to 4 pm at the Baker College Lake City Campus, 4800 S. Morey Road. Visit our tree sale page or Facebook page to learn about the workshops available. RSVP for workshops by Wednesday April 26. 

Help the Red Oak Family

Attention all ambitious yard and landscape cleaners: don’t touch your oak trees!

Oak wilt is serious disease that has been wreaking havoc on oaks within the Red Oak family throughout the county. Oak trees like to “hold hands” beneath the soil surface (i.e. their roots) which is really sweet and nice, but spreads the oak wilt disease much easier. The disease also spreads due to fungus spores that are then carried by beetles. The above ground spread of oak wilt is where you can help most.

Picnic beetles are very small, less than a 1/2 inch long, and feed on decaying fruits and sap from open oak wounds.

An oak tree that died last year from Oak Wilt will produce fungus spores this year. You won’t be able to see them or smell them the way the picnic beetle can. These little beetles will find oak wounds and carry fungus spores from a diseased wound to a fresh, un-diseased wound. Oak trees are “wounded” in many ways: strong winds break limbs, logging operations break branches and cut trees down, and homeowners prune branches. It doesn’t matter how the tree is wounded. If it is pruned/wounded between April 1 and July 15, it is at risk of becoming diseased from Oak Wilt. If dead oak trees were cut last year, they will still produce the fungus and the beetles will still be attracted. Covering the wood with heavy plastic and sealing it in at ground level will prevent the beetles from getting to or from the diseased wood.


Unfortunately, the Lake City area is a hot spot for Oak Wilt, especially the areas around the lakes. How do you know if you have oak trees in the Red Oak family or in the (seemingly) non-susceptible White Oak family?

You can use the graphic to help you identify your oaks. You can also contact the Forester who will not only help identify the trees, but can also identify if the trees have the disease or if they are at risk, and identify options for treatment.

  • Don’t prune oak trees between April 1 and July 15
  • If you buy firewood, ask questions. Is it oak, did it have oak wilt or come from a tree that died last year?
  • Don’t move firewood–when you go camping, buy firewood from a local vendor.
  • Talk to your neighbors. If they have oak trees that died, your oaks may be next if you don’t take steps to protect them.

Oak Wilt is a disease that can be slowed or even contained, but the trees need our help!

Larry Czelusta (pronounced sa-les-ta) is the Missaukee-Wexford Conservation District Forester with decades of forestry experience and a drive to help landowners manage their forests and problem solve their forest and landscape tree issues. Contact Larry at 231.839.7193 or email him at larry.czelusta@macd.org. No problem or concern is too small. Larry enjoys trekking around the woods; leave a message and he can plan to meet at your property.

Final Week to Pre-order

Have you been thinking about ordering trees and just haven’t gotten around to actually placing your order? For all of you procrastinators, the time has come. Thursday, April 13 is the last day to pre-order your seedlings and other planting products! Your beautiful seedlings (aka baby trees, not more than 2′ tall) will arrive just in time to celebrate Arbor Day and finish out Earth Month with a conservation project! Here is the timeline:

  • April, everyday: Earth Month
  • April 13, Thursday: Last day to pre-order seedlings. This is the only way to guarantee you will get the trees you want. If you order after that date (on the website), some items may be sold out and you would be very sad.
  • April 22, Saturday: Earth Day! Volunteer at an event, pick up trash, go for a hike or a float through our scenic state forests and rivers, and rest easy that you ordered your trees.
  • April 27, Thursday: RSVP for one, some, or all of the workshops being held at the Seedling Sale Pick-up–online or call the office.
  • April 28, Friday: Arbor Day. Prepare the sites where you are going to plant your trees. To ensure their health and success, try to eliminate as much competition from other plants (mainly grasses) as possible.
  • April 29, Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm: Missaukee Conservation District Seedling Sale Pick-up! New location is Baker College Lake City Campus–4800 S. Morey Road, Lake City. There will be workshops throughout the day, donuts and coffee, chit-chat with staff about your conservation ideas and questions, and painting with Sandy Wiltzer. For you procrastinators that waited until today–there will be a small selection of trees, shrubs, and fruit plants available on site.
  • April 29-May 1: Plant your baby trees! Now, they don’t require as much care as a human baby, but simply sticking them in the ground and expecting them to know how to crawl, walk, and ride the breeze without your care or attention is just silly.

Congratulations! You are now a conservation hero. Whatever reason you have to plant trees, we thank you greatly and hope you will consider more conservation projects in the future.

Call Missaukee Conservation District at 231.839.7193 to place your order over the phone. Visit the Tree Sales tab above to order your seedlings through our online store. Stop by our office to turn in your paper order at 6180 W. Sanborn Road, Lake City.