From the desk of…

Julie Chamberlain, Executive Director Muskegon River Watershed Assembly

By Julie Chamberlain, Executive Director of the Muskegon River Watershed Assembly

Certainly, there is nothing new I can tell you about winter in Michigan.  Although the conditions are familiar – temperatures that range between cold and colder, a healthy amount of snowfall and all the rest – individual reactions vary widely. For many, it is the preferred time of year. Hunters, hardy winter anglers and snowmobilers insist there is no better time or place. For others, it is a season to endure cheerfully in the certainty that spring will soon be here. For still others, like a certain MRWA board member I could name, it is a time to take flight for warmer climates. 

What I can say with total confidence is that the wintertime scenery throughout the watershed is remarkable. As evidence, I have included a brief gallery of recent photos courtesy of our good friend Rick Lucas. You may know Rick as the forester with the Mecosta Conservation District. He is also an exceptional nature photographer. I hope you enjoy them.

While some of the most scenic spots lie within walking distance of our offices on the campus of Ferris State University, we rarely take the time to notice. Instead, we spend most of the daylight hours working on the 2017 plan. A huge part of that involves the pursuit of grant funding from research and investigation to final application. 

In many ways, it is the most important work we do because it ensures a sustainable future for the organization and provides revenue for important projects such as the recent stream restoration on Bigelow Creek.

It is also work we do quite well, as indicated by our record of attracting significant funding from a variety of state and federal agencies. Competition for limited resources is fierce and our success in this area is largely due to a solid reputation built over time as an effective environmental organization. 

It is not, however, our favorite activity. Often tedious, detail driven, and time-consuming, successful grant writing generates a mountain of application documents and requires navigation through the fine print of government regulation.

As a result, MRWA project manager Dixie Ward spends more time in the office than she would like. While she is happiest out in the field, often knee deep in a stream, she understands that grant money allows us to make real progress toward our stated mission of protecting and restoring the Muskegon River. 

Regardless, whatever winter survival strategy works for you, we hope the new edition of the Riverview will provide a timely diversion.

We have been planning for quite a while to explore a topic that has been increasingly in the news. With that in mind, we think the winter edition is the right time to present some useful information on the complex issues surrounding invasive species. We thought it would give everybody a chance to read up and prepare for the active season this spring.     

The threat posed by invasive species to Michigan’s natural resources as well as the financial cost have been well documented. In fact, the sheer volume of information can certainly be overwhelming so we are calling on local experts in the field to provide some clarity. Our expert contributors include:

  • Cindy Fitzwilliams-Heck, MRWA Board Member and Ferris State University Biology Faculty
  • Patricia  Ruta-McGhan, Botanist, Manistee National Forest, US Forest Service
  • Gale Nobes, Environmental Planning Technician, West Michigan Shoreline Redevelopment Commission (WMSRDC)
  • Vicki Sawicki, Program Coordinator for the North County Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (NCCISMA)

Our intent in this issue is to provide some basic information. In future editions we will call on our contributors to take a more in depth look at some of the more common and troublesome invaders in our watershed. I hope you find it valuable.