Restoration Work To Begin Feb. 1 On Mt. Baldhead Trees Killed By Spraying Mishap
The Land Conservancy of West Michigan announces that restoration work at Mt. Baldhead in Saugatuck, Michigan will begin on or about February 1 (weather dependent).
A tree service firm has been hired by the Land Conservancy to cut down the dead trees on Mt. Baldhead that pose a potential hazard to park users and structures.
These felled trees will be scattered across the slope to prevent erosion; encourage re-establishment of a native ecological community; and introduce detritus to the ecosystem, providing microbial habitat and stabilizing the soil.
New trees will be planted at a 3:1 ratio to the felled trees, expecting some natural loss and increasing some growth on the slope. As a result, 450 trees will be planted including sugar maple, black walnut, tulip, white oak, red oak, basswood, hemlock, and white pine. Additionally, 375 shrubs will be planted including flowering dogwood, witch hazel, spicebush, sassafras, and maple-leaved viburnum.
The goal of this restoration is creating a response to herbicide damage that recognizes and continues the natural cycle of ecosystem renewal.
In 2011, under the Sustain Our Great Lakes Program, the Land Conservancy of West Michigan applied an herbicide to kill invasive Oriental bittersweet vines on Mt. Baldhead. The herbicide was applied by certified applicators using approved methods, however the treatment was only partially successful.
An unintended consequence resulted in that the herbicide was absorbed by tree roots, killing some trees and stressing many others. The tree stress was compounded by a series of unusual weather developments (hot spring weather followed by freezing temperatures and then drought) and they could not recover.
To diagnose the problem and create a responsible restoration plan, the Land Conservancy engaged a horticulturist, an arborist, and an environmental restoration firm. The plan that was developed involves cutting down some trees, leaving some standing, and planting trees and shrubs native to a Michigan back dune slope.
This plan was approved by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, which maintains stringent restoration requirements for Critical Dune Areas, and the Saugatuck City Council.
In January 2014, a sign was placed at Mt. Baldhead that describes to visitors the problem and restoration plan.