The Little Forks Conservancy is pleased to announce that we are applying for a renewal of accreditation. A public comment period is now open.
The land trust accreditation program recognizes land conservation organizations that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever. The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, conducts an extensive review of each applicant’s policies and programs.
The Commission invites public input and accepts signed, written comments on pending applications. Comments must relate to how Little Forks complies with national quality standards. These standards address the ethical and technical operation of a land trust. For the full list of standards see https://www.landtrustaccreditation.org/help-and-resources/indicator-elements.
To learn more about the accreditation program and to submit a comment, visit www.landtrustaccreditation.org, or email your comment to firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments may also be faxed or mailed to the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, Attn: Public Comments: (fax) 518-587-3183; (mail) 36 Phila Street, Suite 2, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866.
Comments on Little Forks’ application will be most useful by March 19th.
This isn’t the easiest note to write, which gives me some comfort. Decisions like this shouldn’t be easy. But it is exciting and decisions like this should be exciting.
February 5th will be my last day with Little Forks Conservancy. I have been offered a position with the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan as a Senior Program Officer with a focus on environmental and arts & culture grantmaking. Anyone who has talked with me for any significant amount of time knows my love for art, music, literature, and my belief in the importance of cultural institutions to communities and place-building. To combine that love with my commitment to conservation and a service area where I was raised is too good of an opportunity for me to pass up.
Little Forks has been an incredible place to work over the past 4+ years and I am so honored to have been part of progress on so many fronts. As LFC looks to the future with a new strategic plan to be developed, new office space to be determined, and some really exciting projects coming, I think it is quite good timing for me to step aside.
In thinking about what has been accomplished since the fall of 2016, it is quite impressive for a small staff! We opened our first preserve outside of Midland County, completed the Averill Access for All path, closed on the largest conservation easement in our organization’s history, and launched innovative programming aimed at underrepresented communities in the conservation and outdoor recreation worlds, while proactively addressing diversity, equity, and inclusivity issues both in the organization and alongside other partners. Some see the future of conservation as more acres protected and more dollars raised. I think that if we do not broaden the definition of what it means to be a conservationist, those acres and dollars will be for naught. I am proud that Little Forks is a leader in those efforts.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions and remote work availability in my new role, Tara and I will not be relocating immediately. Which means I have a lot of goodbye hikes to schedule at one of our preserves, so please be in touch! I look forward to continuing to support organizations in the community, even when we are no longer in the area.
I really want to make sure I do everything possible to have LFC positioned to make its 25th year its best yet. My focus will be on advancing our mission until my last day – and even then, I plan on continuing my involvement as a donor. A search committee, chaired by Mary Haslam, a member of the Board’s Executive Committee, will be forming shortly and more information will be available through email as well as on our website and social media accounts.
Every year the staff at Little Forks reflect on the closing year - our favorite moments, accomplishments, events and what we look forward to in the new year. Take a look at some of these moments below and feel free to share your favorite memories (and pictures!!) experienced on our preserves or with us in 2020!
26-acre conservation easement protecting 1,250 feet of frontage on the West branch of the Cedar River.
Another highlight from the year was our involvement in the Huron Pines AmeriCorps program. I have been very grateful to work with many AmeriCorps members over the year and have always been impressed by how much they can get done. This year, Forestview Natural Area was hit pretty hard by the dam failures resulting in an enormous amount of trash and debris on the floodplain, and damage to a footbridge. Huron Pines AmeriCorps members decided to hold their day of service to help us repair and clean up the damage from the flood. In one day, we were able to fill a 30-yard dumpster with debris and rebuild a new bridge allowing us to open back up the property which had been closed since May. I am very thankful for their hard work of all the members and their dedication to conservation.
Huron Pines AmeriCorps Members help to repair flood damage at Forestview.
Another highlight of 2020 was seeing the increased usage of our preserves during the pandemic. It really helps solidify the importance of our work in the community as our properties were able to provide a space for exploration, exercise and a bit of peace and calm in our world.
Looking ahead to 2021, I am excited about continuing our work in the Cedar River watershed to promote our conservation programs, and being able to work with volunteers again on our river clean up and stream sampling. In addition, I look forward to continued projects on our preserves to restore habitat and improve recreational opportunities. I am sure 2021 will be a year to remember.
Andrea and her daughter.
There were two highlights in 2020 that really stood out for me. One of them was learning how to better serve our community and strengthen our programs by attending the Learning Landscapes K-12 Leaders retreat for land trust educators in the Sierra Nevada mountains in March. The other highlight was learning how to create videos for our online platforms during the pandemic. Especially because my daughter was able to join me and be my director, camera kid, and co-producer! We built quality memories and spent time doing our favorite outdoor activities together.
Riverview Natural Area
In 2020, with the combined flood and pandemic, we had to adapt stewardship to be more mobile and work with less volunteers than normal. This meant more work on staff and the few wonderful volunteers that continued to help us - mask and all. I’d like to thank our long-time volunteers, Roger Garner and Denny Brooks for showing up multiple times this year to work in often hot conditions fixing the trails and cutting down invasive species.
Huron Pines AmeriCorps members.
We are also always grateful for having partnerships. When we needed help this year, our partners were there for us. Forestview Natural Area was wreaked from the flood waters and our partners from the north, Huron Pines AmeriCorps, came through with helping hands and funds to help rebuild and restore much of Forestview. We would not have had Forestview Natural Area open to you this fall if it wasn’t for them!
Riverview Natural Area
Fall is a gorgeous time to explore Little Forks Conservancy’s nature preserves. You can enjoy the last lingering autumn leaves.
Many people cut back on hiking during this time because of hunting season. But, hiking during hunting season can be just as enjoyable as any other time of year! Here are a few tips to help you discover our trails in the fall.
1. When is hunting season?
Although many of us are most familiar with deer hunting season, there are actually a number of hunting seasons in Michigan. You can see the full list of hunting season dates by clicking here.
2. Is there hunting on the preserves?
Little Forks Conservancy does not allow hunting on the Averill Preserve and Forestview Natural Area. The George and Sue Lane Preserve and parts of Riverview Natural Area are open to bow hunting and spring turkey through a permit system. The Albert & Virginia Szok Preserve is located within Pine Haven Recreation Area which does allow hunting. If you’re planning on visiting the two preserves with hunting on the property, signage will be placed in the parking lot.
3. Is there hunting nearby at the other preserves?
Yes, some of our neighbors do hunt their properties. For your safety, please stay on the trail and obey any “No Trespassing” signs. Also, please respect neighboring hunters by minimizing loud noises or disturbing wildlife.
4. Do I have to wear orange?
Wearing a bright orange hat or vest is a great way to make sure you’re seen by hunters! Since they wear it themselves, they will know that means you’re there. If you’re walking your dog, make sure he or she remains on a leash – and you can also pick up an orange vest for your dog at local pet supply stores!
If you’re out during dawn or dusk when light is dim, a headlamp or flashlight is also recommended.
5. What if I encounter a hunter?
If you see a hunter on a Little Forks' preserve each hunter should have a permit given to them by Little Forks Conservancy signed by Sara the Stewardship Coordinator. If a preserve that does not allow hunting, contact our office at 989.835.4886.
You may see hunters along the preserve boundary. If you do, quietly continue along the trail within the preserve.
If you follow these tips, you should be able to safely enjoy a great hike at one of Little Forks’ preserves! If you encounter any problems or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office at 989.835.4886 or email Sara.
Now Accepting Applications for 2020!
In partnership with the AmeriCorps program, we are able to offer an exciting position that will work to improve and protect the health of our region’s land and water. We are seeking an individual to assist with the Conservancy’s land stewardship program collaborating with landowners and at our nature preserves. We will be looking for someone who is self-motivated, knowledgeable in GPS and GIS, is able to manage multiple tasks, communicate well through public speaking and writing, and has a background in natural resources.
All positions require the following:
The Conservancy has decided to place approximately 100 acres of the farmland at Riverview Natural Area for sale under a conservation easement. This farmland has been leased to local farmers in previous years, by selling this land with a conservation easement allows us to continue to protect the natural and agricultural heritage of the land while focusing our resources on the rest of Riverview, the other four preserves open to the public, as well as new projects.
We are looking for conservation-minded potential buyers to participate in a closed bid process. If you are interested in obtaining a bid packet, please click here – Farmland Sale Bid Packet. Bids are due by noon on January 9, 2019.
If you have any questions, please call Elan or Greg at our office at 989-835-4886
Hello! My name is Ted and I’m the newest blog poster (and Land Steward) here at Little Forks. I come to Little Forks through the Huron Pines AmeriCorps program, which provides service members to more than a dozen organizations and government offices in Michigan.
Coming to Little Forks and Michigan has been quite the experience– there are so many new people to meet and places to learn about. There are times when everything seems different, and that can be disorienting. I always find reassurance, however, in knowing that I have something extremely important in common with folks here at Little Forks. Even you, no matter who you are out there reading this post, most likely share this tenet: we care about the environment!
So it makes sense to begin my introduction with our commonality: why I care about the health of our planet. For me it began growing up in Newington, Connecticut, a suburb of Hartford. My childhood was spent building boats with my friends on Piper Brook (turns out all you need is plywood and caulk…lots of caulk), going for hikes on the Metacomet Trail with my dad (or “forced marches” as my brother and I affectionately called them), and making a yearly pilgrimage with my mom and cousins to Nickerson State Park on the Cape.
I went to college at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, and spent the spring and summer of my junior year thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail (yes I got credit and yes I received a stipend for the project. Clark is amazing!). What blew me away on the hike (besides the endless panoramic views) was that the 2,000+ miles of trail I walked was on unbroken conservation land. I spent an extra year at school digging deeper into conservation, writing a research paper about land management strategies in Worcester.
Through all of these experiences I have developed an affinity for our natural world that extends beyond the science of biodiversity or carbon sequestration. For me, the objective need for good stewardship of our Earth has lined up with a deep personal relationship. I’m pretty sure that those two ingredients combine to make something called passion!
Anyways, I arrive here in Midland, ready to learn the ins and outs of Michigan (c’s that sound like w’s? Driving 72 mph is slow?), and pursue my passion with a year of service at Little Forks! I’ll finish by asking you the question I’ve asked myself in this post: why do you care about the environment, and why do you support Little Forks?