Vol. 18 No. 2
"Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain." - Henry David Thoreau
In this issue...
Local Organization and Venerable Giant Company Coopoerate on Grosse Ile Environmental Enhancement Project
Fall Property Clean-Up / Dump the Junk
Nature Area Reopens & Refuge-Gibraltar Bay Unit Ceremony
Local Organization and Venerable Giant Company Cooperate on Grosse Ile Environmental Enhancement Project
Members of a local environmental interest group and several employees from an internationally revered industrial giant worked together this spring to help restore protective habitat and beauty to an interesting little natural enclave on Grosse Ile.
Beginning at 8:30AM, a half-dozen members of the Grosse Ile Nature and Land Conservancy assembled on the site of what is known as Intrepid Pond, on the south part of the island at the corner of Meridian and Intrepid at the Commerce Park. They were joined by 16 Ford Motor Company employees from various ranks and area of the company, to plant several trees, shrubs, perennials and to clear some of the naturally-gathering debris from the perimeter of this small body of water.
This restoration and beautification project was largely made possible by a grant from Ford in the amount of $3000, which the Conservancy group had bid for several months prior. This grant was the latest and largest of several funding sources that GINLC has received for restoration, protective and beautification work in this small but significant area. Other grants for projects on the pond have come from the Alliance for the Great Lakes, in the amount of $2500 two years ago for initial planning and removal of invasive species; another in the amount of $1500 from Freshwater Future last year to purchase the initial native shrubs and trees along with $500 from Conservancy memorials and honorariums donated by members.
The pond itself serves as a drainage repository for the area south of Grosse Ile Parkway and east of Meridian Road and it further serves as a filtration basin for storm water that flows thence toward Frenchman's Creek, Gibraltar Bay and into Lake Erie. The several generous grant applications have been directed to the following objective: to create a healthy ecosystem for native plants and animals that is also aesthetically pleasing, in the area including both the pond and adjoining upland area. The pond also offers a demonstration area for what can be done with a quite ordinary parcel. It also provides a resource for students to visit, where they can literally dip into the water and observe and analyze its smaller inhabitants.
After some initial water testing a landscaping plan was drawn up, courtesy of JJR in Ann Arbor for the "grow zone" around the area. Much physical labor was performed by Mr. Ed Sperkowski and volunteers to remove Eurasian milfoil and phragmites from the water and shoreline. An aeration system was installed in June of 2009, to keep the water oxygenated, since the high nutrient load was leading to significant algae growth. Since the initial plantings of several flowering and fruiting shrubs, along with a few small oak and maple trees, the emphasis has been on keeping the immediate area clear of phragmites, milfoil and other invasive plants. The Conservancy seeks also to keep the area habitable for the small critters that naturally live around the retention basin.
More recently, it was thought that the area's beauty would be greatly enhanced if more and larger plantings, including some taller trees and more perennials could be added, following the planting plan already in hand. Hence, a grant application to help accomplish this was made to Ford. The request was not only for financial support for securing the proposed trees and plants, but also for person-power to help with putting them in place.
Ford responded positively to the request with its $3000 grant. An order was placed with area suppliers for the trees, shrubs and perennials to be planted, a date was set, notification was given the local members of the Conservancy and interested Grosse Ile Township officials, and everything moved smoothly toward the planting date, Friday, May 14. Many people responded in various ways to the invitation. The Ford Motor Company workers who showed up in their beautiful blue tee shirts prepared to pitch in and provided a source of enthusiasm and determination to see that everything was done to the Conservancy's specifications.
Sixteen Ford employees from various areas of the company signed up and came to help in many ways. Among the sixteen were six who actually live on Grosse Ile: Robin Kirsch, Michael Hamula, Sandy Reich, Emily Frascaroli, Steve Kirsch, and Paul Nussbaum. In addition to the Ford workers that came to assist, there were numerous Conservancy members and friends who helped in various ways - before, during and after the event itself. Some operated more-or-less behind the scenes, like Doug Thiel, who planned the tree purchases, set the locations for the trees and gave directions, but was out-of-town on business the day of the event. Ken Tilp directed the planting at the site. Many from the Township helped as well, especially those from the airport crew who showed up with a backhoe and dug the holes for the larger trees, some of which were already fifteen to twenty years old and needed a larger space for their roots. The Township workers also brought what seemed like an endless supply of wood chips. Peter Kantz, a Ford retiree and township trustee who is the Airport/Commerce Park liaison as well as a Conservancy member, especially helped by bringing lots of tools, including a wheelbarrow and lawn mower. Kantz even gave the Ford folks a walking tour of Township Hall and the NAS museum.
The Grosse Ile Nature and Land Conservancy thanks all their members and friends for making this special effort possible, including the local Township personnel. In addition, the Conservancy wishes to thank the Ford Motor Company for its generous grant and their outstanding employee volunteer program.