Spring 2011
Vol. 19 No. 1

Spring is a natural resurrection, an experience in immortality -Henry David Thoreau

In this issue...

Reflections from the President

Habitat for Learning

Celebration for the Gibraltar Bay Unit of the Detroit River International Refuge

Gibraltar Bay Fish Survey

Colina Grant

2010 GI Conservationist of the Year Award

Second Sundays at the Wildlife Refuge/Nature Area

Sunday at the Wildlife Refuge

Freshwater Futures Grant

Michigan Amphibians and Mudpuppies Survey

Annual Meeting

Honors & Recognitions

Lifetime Achievement Award

Stewardship Corner

Land Acquisition

Memorials & Honorariums


Small Machines - Big Polluters

Did you know?

Upcoming Events...

May 1
Earth Day

1PM to 4PM
Centennial Farm
Contact Liz Hugel

May 13
Habitat for Learning Workday
8AM to 4PM
Parke Lane Elementary
Contact Courtney Solenberger-McNeill

Nature Area Open
Every Sunday
1-4PM, May 8 to Oct. 30

May 15
Interpretive Nature Walk
1PM to 4PM
Nature Area
Contact Courtney Solenberger-McNeill

November 5
Annual Meeting
10AM to 11:30AM
Centennial Farm


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Conservationists of the Year

The 2010 Conservationist of the Year Award was presented to Roberta (Bert) Urbani and John Leon. This annual award has been presented to individuals who go far beyond our expectations for contributing to the preservation, conservation and natural beauty of Grosse Ile and the surrounding area. Although many members of our Conservancy board would qualify for the award because of the extent of their volunteer activities, we try to look out into the community to recognize and applaud the efforts of others. For the first time this honor was bestowed on a couple rather than an individual, because together they seem to live and breathe the Conservancy’s mission.

When they moved to Grosse Ile in 2009 Bert and John embarked on a mission to minimize their carbon footprint. They pondered “how to best manage our little piece of the planet in the most environmentally conscious way possible.” They educated themselves, and then went to work reconstructing their home to be energy efficient. On the outside, they re-landscaped their property to be sustainable and environmentally friendly. They incorporated composting, native grasses, butterfly gardens and rain gardens into their “greenscaping” plans. Minimizing the size of their suburban lawn decreases mowing, which in turn decreases air pollution.(see “Small Engines Are Big Polluters” and “Did You Know?”) Many hours were spent last summer converting a section of lawn to a native wildflower plot.

In addition, they hosted an environmental mini-conference at their home to obtain more ideas from experts on what other environmental or natural features they could incorporate into their remodeling work, their greenscape and their shoreline. Bert and John have also not overlooked the need to contribute beyond their own property. They work in their neighborhood to incorporate and teach more environmentally friendly and sustainable practices. They volunteer with a number of environmental organizations including the DTE Energy Green Team, Greening of Detroit, EarthShare of Michigan, Friends of the Detroit River, Alliance for the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, the Wildlife Habitat Council, Conner Creek Greenway and Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision coalition.

Bert and John — we thank you for all your efforts to educate, recover and enhance the natural beauty of our area.