Monday, June 22, 2015

Michigan Forest Association Teacher Workshop

Students often ask me how I know the things I know.  I tell them that the key is to never stop learning. 

I am currently attending a forestry education workshop for teachers at the Ralph A. McMullen Conference Center near Roscommon, MI.  This workshop is being hosted by the Michigan Forest Association.  The first day of the workshop cofornsisted of classroom activities such as tree identification, learning about how a tree works, and about the history of the land surveying in Michigan.  These topics were in preparation for a series of field trips over the next to days to visit historic logging sites, current logging operations, etc.  The final event of the evening was a short walk down the road to the site of Michigan's first state nursery.

The nursery at Higgins Lake was established in 1903 and ceased operations in 1965.  Today the site is operated as a museum and some of the original buildings and equipment remain.  When the nursery was closed down some trees that were planted on the site were left behind in their experimental plots.

This first photograph shows workers planting seedlings at the nursery in 1913.

Workers at the Higgins Lake Nursery plant trees in 1913

Today, most of the nursery beds are empty.  The field below is bordered by spruce trees that were originally planted as windbreaks.  The poor soil found in this locale means that the forest has not been quick to reclaim these fields.

Old planting bed at Higgins Lake Nursery

The next photograph is of one of the original buildings that remains on the site - the packinghouse.  This building dates to 1923 and was used to sort and package seedlings for shipment elsewhere in Michigan.

Packing House at Higgins Lake Nursery Museum

One of the other buildings on site is called the "cone barn" this site held ovens for drying ripe pine cones and tumblers and sifters for separating the pine seeds from the cones.  Even though the buildings were closed during our visit, we were able to see one of the tumblers through a large window.

The Cone Barn at the Higgins Lake Nursery Museum

Cone tumbler

After looking at the buildings were walked back into some of the remaining test plots to see what remains.

MFA Executive Director Bill Botti explains why this stand of trees has become stunted due to overcrowding

Bill Botti uses an increment borer to extract a core from a Red Pine

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