Calendar of Volunteer Stewardship Workdays

Prairie with blazing star plants in bloom Join us for fun activities year-round!
Workday dates, activities, and locations are listed below. Workdays are scheduled and posted quarterly. Please check this site to make sure you have the most up-to-date information since meeting locations may need to change.

Volunteer workdays focus on high-quality natural areas that are known sites or potential sites for species of greatest conservation need (species whose populations are rare or declining).

Ongoing workdays are held in:

Southeast Michigan:
Algonac State Park, Bald Mountain Recreation Area, Belle Isle Park, Brighton Recreation Area, Highland Recreation Area, Island Lake Recreation Area, Pinckney Recreation Area, Sterling State Park, and Waterloo Recreation Area.

Southwest Michigan:
Fort Custer Recreation Area, Grand Mere State Park, P.J. Hoffmaster State Park, Holland State Park, Ionia Recreation Area, Ludington State ParkMuskegon State Park, Saugatuck Dunes State Park, Warren Dunes State Park, Warren Woods State Park, and Yankee Springs Recreation Area.

To register for workdays submit a Stewardship Volunteer Registration form.

January 2017

Saturday, January 7, 2017
Fort Custer Recreation Area, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Ring in the New Year by resolving to wipe out black locust!  Black locust is a pesky invader in our native prairie restorations.  We’ll be cutting down young locusts before they have a chance to grow and invade further.  We’ll be working in some open fields so please dress for the weather as it could be windy!  Depending on the snowfall, snow shoes may also be helpful.  Meet at the park headquarters.  Please arrive on time as we will caravan to the work location. GPS coordinates:  42.324901, -85.351755

Saturday, January 7, 2017
Bald Mountain Recreation Area, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
 
Aid restoration efforts at the Graham Lake fen complex by cutting and piling glossy buckthorn, a terrible wetland invasive shrub. Meet at the East Graham Boat Launch parking lot on the north side of Predmore Road in the park’s North Unit. GPS coordinates: 42.786267, -83.190904. ***Waterproof boots, either knee-high rubber boots or hip waders, are recommended for this site. Knee-high rubber boots are available to borrow, upon request (please specify size). Availability is limited; first come, first served.

Sunday, January 8, 2017
Saugatuck Dunes State Park, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

What a beautiful way to spend a Sunday afternoon!  Volunteers are invited to enjoy the winter landscape and help us remove invasive shrubs from the forest before they invade the high dunes.  No experience is necessary; volunteers will be trained to identify autumn olive, black locust and non-native honeysuckle.  Meet at the main park entrance at the end of 138th St (near the picnic shelter).  GPS coordinates:  42.70067, -86.19616.

Sunday, January 8, 2017
Pinckney Recreation Area, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. 

Hankerd dry sand prairie and oak barrens is a neat place that needs ongoing removal of invasive shrubs to keep it in good condition! We will be cutting small autumn olive and any other shrubs that don’t belong. Help us protect this site and the neat native plants that call it home! Meet at the Halfmoon Lake entrance to help out. From North Territorial Road, take Hankerd Road north until you see the entrance on the left. GPS coordinates: 42.4140822,-83.9927.

Saturday, January 21, 2017
Belle Isle Park, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Join the DNR and Belle Isle Conservancy for stewardship Saturdays. Our winter project will focus on cutting invasive shrubs, especially glossy and common buckthorn and honeysuckle, to restore the wet mesic flatwoods on the island. We will work in areas that are wet much of the year and (hopefully) have an easier time getting through them while things are frozen. Meet on Woodside Drive at the trailhead parking area just north of the canal bridge. From The Strand, pass the athletic fields and Vista Drive then turn left at the next road (there is a brick bathroom building at the corner). GPS coordinates: 42.340386, -82.968116.

Saturday, January 28, 2017
Fort Custer Recreation Area, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Black locust, autumn olive, honeysuckle and other invasive shrubs threaten the natural habitats of this beautiful park.  Please join us as we work to control these unwanted invaders from the restored prairies.  No experience is necessary, just a desire to enjoy the winter landscape in the company of other stewards!  Meet at the park headquarters.  Please arrive on time as we will caravan to the work location.  GPS coordinates:  42.324901, -85.351755.   

Saturday, January 28, 2017
Highland Recreation Area, Silo Field Trial Area, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Join ongoing efforts to restore this area to an open grassland. Volunteers will be hauling and piling brush and stacking fire wood. Meet at the Silo Field Trial Area parking lot off Livingston Road, between Pettibone Lake and Beaumont Roads. GPS coordinates: 42.638344, -83.595671.

Saturday, January 28, 2017
Island Lake Recreation Area, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. 

Removing invasive shrubs from these prairie remnants will allow the neat native grasses and wildflowers to thrive and support other creatures. Want to help us restore balance to this ecosystem? Meet at the Riverbend Picnic Area parking lot. GPS coordinates: 42.504968, -83.709577.

Sunday, January 29, 2017
Warren Dunes State Park, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Help keep our critical dunes free of invasive plants!  Volunteers will help remove common privet, Japanese barberry, non-native honeysuckle and other misfit plants from the nature trail before they spread to the high dunes.  No experience is necessary and volunteers will be trained to identify target species.  Meet at the picnic area south of the campground.   Travel past the park headquarters towards the campground; the picnic area will be on the left.  Please arrive on time as we will be hiking to the work location.  GPS coordinates:  41.907001, -86.591755

Saturday, February 4, 2017
Fort Custer Recreation Area
, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Join us at Fort Custer for this Super Invasive Bowl matchup of stewards vs. black locust!  Volunteer stewards will win the battle against these small, pesky invaders that threaten to take over our prairie systems.  We’ll be working in one of the open restored areas along the drive to Whitford Lake so please dress accordingly as it could be windy!  In the event of deep snow, snow shoes might be helpful but not necessaryPlease meet at the park headquarters and we will caravan to the work site.   GPS coordinates:  42.324901, -85.351755

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Grand Mere State Park, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Join us for a morning removing Japanese barberry and other invasive woody shrubs from some lesser traveled portions of Grand Mere State Park!  No experience is necessary as many of these plants stand out from our native understory species and are easy to identify in the winter.  Meet at the small parking area at the end of Willow Dr.  Please arrive on time as we’ll caravan/carpool to the work location (limited parking).  GPS coordinates:  41.985645, -86.553083.  

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Yankee Springs Recreation Area, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Volunteers will help continue our efforts to remove pesky autumn olive and honeysuckle from our prescribed burn management area near Deep Lake.  In the event of deep snow, snow shoes might be helpful but not necessary.   If snowfall prohibits parking in this area, we may change locations and park at the Scenic Pines lot on Gun Lake road.  GPS coordinates:  42°37'06.3"N 85°27'11.0"W.

Workday Details

Registration
Please complete a volunteer registration form. Alternatively, contact Echo Prafke-Marson at 517-719-2285 or prafkemarsone@michigan.gov to register for workdays in southeast Michigan or Heidi Frei at 517-202-1360 or freih@michigan.gov to register for workdays in southwest Michigan. Let them know the date and park of the workday(s) you plan to attend. Registering helps us plan the workdays more effectively so we have enough equipment and so we can divide into groups and assign tasks more easily.

Workday Cancellation
If a workday must be canceled due to inclement weather or for any other reason, a voice mail message saying so will be posted at 517-719-2285 for southeast or at 517-202-1360 for southwest Michigan at least two hours before the scheduled workday start time. If there is no cancellation message the workday will continue as planned.

Youth Volunteers and Groups
The Volunteer Steward program welcomes working with youth, students and scouts! All minors (under 18) must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. The accompanying parent/guardian must sign a Volunteer Release and Waiver of Liability form for the minor. If participating with an organized group (i.e. scouts, school groups), the group leader may sign instead. Workday activities often can accommodate groups but advanced registration is strongly encouraged for groups larger than five. This helps us plan for equipment and ensures that all participants are suited to the day's task. All youth groups must have an age-appropriate adequate ratio of adult to youth participants. Volunteer Steward workday leaders reserve the right to deny participation to unaccompanied minors or anyone due to misconduct or unsafe behavior. Please feel free to contact your regional Natural Resource Steward if you have any questions.

The Volunteer Steward program is primarily focused on hands-on restoration with education as a secondary goal. We welcome service learning opportunities, but the emphasis and the majority of time will be spent on hands-on projects in the field. Classrooms and student groups interested in an interpretive experience should contact the park visitor center or Explorer Guide.

Park Map and Directions
Click on the name of the park or recreation area above to view the park's webpage. From the park webpage you can print a "Unit Map" and get directions to the park.

What to Wear and Bring
Please remember to wear appropriate clothing for outdoor work, including long pants and work boots. Please also bring drinking water, work gloves, and eye protection (especially prescription safety glasses). Waterproof boots, either knee-high rubber boots or hip waders, are recommended for fen and other wetland sites. If you don't have waterproof boots and would like to borrow a pair, please note that when you register and we will try to provide them.

What NOT to Bring
Be sure your outerwear, gloves, and boots are free of mud and hitchhiking seeds before coming to the workday. We don't want to inadvertently spread invasive plant seeds into these high quality natural areas.

Stewardship Announcements
Would you like to receive workday reminders and general stewardship information via email? Please email a list of the parks that you are interested in to Echo Prafke-Marson, prafkemarsone@michigan.gov for southeast Michigan parks or Heidi Frei, freih@michigan.gov for southwest Michigan parks. Please choose from the parks listed at the top of this page.

Recreation Passport
Please support Michigan's state parks and recreation areas by purchasing a Recreation Passport. For more information, please visit www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport

Want to get more involved?
The Volunteer Steward Program provides volunteers with additional ways to get involved and make a unique commitment, both individually and as part of a team.

Questions?
Please contact Echo Prafke-Marson, Resource Steward for the Stewardship Unit, at 517-719-2285 or prafkemarsone@michigan.gov with any questions about volunteering in southeast Michigan parks.

Please contact Heidi Frei, Resource Steward for the Stewardship Unit, at 517-202-1360 or freih@michigan.gov with any questions about volunteering in southwest Michigan parks.

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