2017-06-08 / Front Page

Cherry trees cut at Lakeshore entrance

Old fruit fly law recalled
By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff

The northern entrance to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore willl no longer include a cherry orchard.

Personnel from the National Park Service cut fruit trees on recently-acquired property on the northern edge of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Park staff felled cherry trees from property between Co. Rd. 651 and Overby Road in Centerville Township.

“It’s one of two properties the Park purchased from the Simpson family,” said Tom Ulrich, Lakeshore assistant superintendent.

The first property, acquired more than a decade ago, included a home, which was removed from the site as it was not considered of “historical significance.”

The second parcel, located east of the former home-site, was part of Harbor Hill Farms, owned by the Simpson family.

“It was my old stomping ground during my childhood,” said Sam Simpson, whose father, Bruce, was a pioneer in the wine industry. His Trillium and Fishtown White wines remain popular. “It’s a little sentimental for me,” added Sam Simpson, who followed his father’s footsteps into the wine business, “but I’d rather see it go back to nature.”

The family discontinued the fruit operation about six years ago. It most recently had been leased to fruit grower Glenn LaCross.

In its first year of ownership, the Park Service approved a permit to allow fruit growing at the site.

Things changed this year when the Park Service took over.

“We learned, if you have a tree ‘thou shalt spray’,” Ulrich said.

Jim Nugent, fruit grower and retired director of the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center explained.

“There’s a very old law on the books that says growers need to control cherry fruit fly,” Nugent said. “The Department of Agriculture would check abandoned orchards and require that they treat the trees or remove them.”

While there hasn’t been money allocated for enforcement of the law in many years, the need to treat or remove remains.

“It’s difficult to control insects if your neighbor has orchards that aren’t controlled,” Nugent said. “You do a great courtesy to your neighbors by spraying, especially cherries.”

The original law dealt with cherry fruit fly. Now it also applies to the spotted wing drosophila, considered the biggest pest threat to growers in northwest Michigan and throughout the country.

Ulrich said there were some funds available for removal. However, “competing work” in the park allowed for just the cutting. The fallen trees will be chipped at a later date.

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