Alliance (MADA) Year in Review
The COVID-19 pandemic affected Arbor Day and our plans for holding an in-person celebration. 2020 would have been our 25th year celebrating Arbor Day at Potter Park Zoo. While we were unable to hold our typical celebration with the 1,200 students at the zoo, we adapted and found other creative ways to celebrate Arbor Day.
On April 26, 2020 we held a Tree Seedling Giveaway Drive-Thru event at Woldumar Nature Center. We invited Lansing area residents to pick up their free tree seedling (variety of native trees were offered) in a drive-thru set up at the nature center. Staff took proper health precautions and wore a facemask and gloves. We had a huge turn out and gave away just over 1,500 seedlings. Hopefully there are now many baby trees thriving on private property in the Lansing area.
Virtual Webinars
In addition to the Tree Seedling Giveaway event, the Michigan Arbor Day Alliance offered a couple of virtual programs related to trees. The first program was offered on June 9. In this Zoom webinar, the attendees learned about how to identify trees by examining their leaves. In MADA’s second Zoom webinar, held on October 14, attendees learned about Michigan’s forest history from both the MADA Coordinator and Hillary Pine, Historian at Michigan History Center.
Tree Plaque Installation
Once it was safe to get together again, a couple of MADA committee members met at Potter Park Zoo to install tree tags on the 25 trees that have been planted at the zoo over the years. Each Arbor Day celebration a tree was planted on zoo grounds. We wanted to commemorate 25 years of celebrating Arbor Day at the zoo by marking each tree with the year it was planted and the species name so the public can learn about the Arbor Day trees that have planted at the zoo.
Arbor Day Statewide Fifth Grade Poster Contest
A tree themed poster contest is a great way for kids to express their artist side while also making important connections to nature. Students were required to submit a poster with a design that fits the theme “Forests for Fish”. Posters received votes on our Facebook page. First, second, and third place prizes were awarded to both the winning students and their teachers, including money to plant a tree in their schoolyard or community.
1st place winner: Blake T.
Tree Planting Grant
Each year, MADA offers communities the opportunity to apply for a Tree Planting Grant. These grants are available to municipalities, public schools, libraries, nonprofit organizations, and local units of government, neighborhood associations, churches, and tribal governments to purchase trees. This year, we were able to award six Tree Planting Grants. The recipients of this year’s grants were the Kalamazoo Nature Center, City of Chelsea, Emmett County Parks and Recreation Department, the City of Brighton and the City of Madison Heights. A total of 129 large trees will be planted in Michigan communities this year because of this program. Our goal is to expand that number next year by seeking additional sponsorship for the MADA Tree Planting Grant program and increasing our available funding for tree planting projects. We want to thank ITC Michigan and Consumers Energy for providing the funding for this grant opportunity.
Riparian Restoration with Arbor Brewing Company and Trout Unlimited
Last year, the Michigan Arbor Day Alliance had the pleasure to partner up with Arbor Brewing Company to plant trees in Washtenaw County. We planted trees in the Dolph Nature Area near a stormwater pond and at the Meyer Preserve in Ypsilanti, MI. Trees act as natural water filters, stream bank stabilizers, habitat for birds and much more. By planting trees, we are able to protect and preserve both water and air quality. Clean water is essential in making clean beer.
Did you know? One tree can lift as much as 100 gallons of water out of the ground and discharge it into the air in one day. Trees improve water quality by slowing and filtering rainwater as well as protecting groundwater and land around rivers, lakes, and streams.
We originally had planned to do another tree planting this spring but Covid-19 prevented us from getting together to plant trees. However, our organizations were able to go out and plant (properly social distanced of course) 850 native bare root trees along the Rogue River on Thursday, October 29! Michigan’s Trout Unlimited, Arbor Brewing Company, and the Michigan Arbor Day Alliance planted the trees along the river, which will act as natural bank stabilizers, filter the water (hence clean beer), provide shade to fish, and much more! The Michigan DNR, Land Conservancy of West Michigan and many other volunteers turned out to help us plant.
Stay tuned for future planting dates with Arbor Brewing Company. We look forward to continuing our partnership and improving water quality through planting trees across the state of Michigan.
Volunteer Hours for MADA
MADA held monthly meetings with six committee members in attendance (via conference call or zoom meeting). We also had committee members come out to help install the tree plaques at Potter Park Zoo. In addition, staff volunteered at our Tree Seedling Giveaway event and we had roughly 20 volunteers at the Rogue River Tree Planting in Rockford. In total, MADA had 160 volunteer hours for 2020.
Michigan Water Stewardship Program (MWSP) Year in Review
The Michigan Water Stewardship Program (MWSP) is a program of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), Environmental Stewardship Division. The program originally launched in 2010 and is the sister program to the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP). The website has had over 500k page views from the United States, Canada, and many other countries. Eaton Conservation District manages this statewide program and facilitates watershed outreach across the state. Broadly speaking, this grant-funded program is made possible by the state of Michigan’s Groundwater/Freshwater fund. MWSP is a network of organizations that provide educational assistance to Michigan’s residents to identify and reduce contamination risks to water and other natural resources. The program encourages individuals to take voluntary proactive steps to protect Michigan’s water quality – our drinking water – as well as protect our other valuable natural resources while caring for our family’s health.
The newly updated website launched in October 2020. It is user friendly and has resources for homeowners, students and educators. A new feature on the MWSP website is the Water Story. The Water Story has three characters or ‘paths’ that users can navigate. They can choose between Professor Dew, Droplette, and Trickle. Each character explores different aspects of the water cycle and will help students and adults make important connections to our water resources and why it’s important we care for them. The new website will also feature a water game that will be released in 2021. The game will have water droplet’s falling from the sky and on their way down to the ground they will encounter pollution in the forms of oil, plastic and other trash. Users will gain points as they dodge the pollution.
In addition to the new website, we are excited to announce that we will be launching an Augmented Reality Sandbox (ARS) for watershed outreach and education. The augmented reality sandbox allows users to create topography models by shaping real sand, which is then augmented in real time by an elevation color map, topographic contour lines, and simulated water. The system teaches geographic, geologic, and hydrologic concepts such as how to read a topography map, the meaning of contour lines, watersheds, catchment areas, levees, etc. We have partnered up with Tri-County Regional Planning Commission to facilitate the project and we plan to have it complete and in use by Fall 2021. This tool will be available to schools and other partners to use in education and outreach.