2018-05-03 / Outdoors

Rarely seen local plants will benefit wildlife, humans

Tribe leads effort


STUDENTS FROM The Greenspire School planting native species provided by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians at the Leelanau Conservancy’s DeYoung Natural Area in April included, from left, Wyatt Anderson, Cecilia Rizzo, Sara Newman and Ava Vezina. STUDENTS FROM The Greenspire School planting native species provided by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians at the Leelanau Conservancy’s DeYoung Natural Area in April included, from left, Wyatt Anderson, Cecilia Rizzo, Sara Newman and Ava Vezina. About 500 rarely-seen native plants were reintroduced to Leelanau County during a three-day planting effort that ended Saturday.

The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians teamed up with the Leelanau Conservancy, Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation (TART) Trails, Inc., and the charter Greenspire School of Traverse City for the event.

Organized by the tribe’s Natural Resources Department, the entire 126-member student body of The Greenspire School planted about 500 edible, native plants at the Leelanau Conservancy’s DeYoung Natural Area in Elmwood Township.

Including about 15 different species, some of the native plants were also placed along TART’s Leelanau Trail in Suttons Bay Township.


THE GREENSPIRE School, represented by its faculty and its entire 126-student body, planted about 500 native plants provided by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians at the Leelanau Conservancy’s DeYoung Natural Area in Elmwood Township on April 27. THE GREENSPIRE School, represented by its faculty and its entire 126-student body, planted about 500 native plants provided by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians at the Leelanau Conservancy’s DeYoung Natural Area in Elmwood Township on April 27. Most of the plants are species that have been native to Michigan since before European settlement. They include breadfruit trees, paw-paw plants, juneberries, native plum, and bushes bearing several varieties of wild nuts including hazel nuts and hickory nuts.

Water quality specialist Jonathan Aylward of the Grand Traverse Band Natural Resources Department was primarily responsible for organizing the effort.

“The idea behind planting these historic native species in public places is to benefit water quality, support wildlife, and to benefit our local community for generations to come,” Aylward said.


TRIBAL NATURAL Resources Department specialist Jonathan Aylward and Leslee Spraggins of the Leelanau Conservancy, left, chat with Greenspire School students Aiden Amon and Peter Worden who were helping plant native plants provided by the tribe at the conservancy’s DeYoung Natural Area on April 27. TRIBAL NATURAL Resources Department specialist Jonathan Aylward and Leslee Spraggins of the Leelanau Conservancy, left, chat with Greenspire School students Aiden Amon and Peter Worden who were helping plant native plants provided by the tribe at the conservancy’s DeYoung Natural Area on April 27. He said it could be 10-15 years before some of the plants begin producing fruits and nuts, but they are very hardy and well adapted to Michigan’s changing climate.

A tribal elder and a retired Conservation Officer with the tribe’s Natural Resources Department, Hank Bailey provided some perspective for the middle school-age students who did most of the work last week. He also performed a traditional native blessing of the effort.

“You will see more of the native wildlife in this area thrive once more of the native plants begin producing,” Bailey said. “It’s a win-win for everyone – the environment, the wildlife, and the people.”

Photos and story by Eric Carlson

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