Threats to Natural Areas
Every natural area in Michigan's system is threatened with at least one if not more of the following problems:
- infestation and spread of invasive pests and weeds
- accelerated erosion and habitat loss from overuse or inappropriate use by mountain bikes, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), backpackers, and horses
- alteration of ecological processes within or near natural areas including: fire suppression within fire dependent ecosystems, hydrological (water-flow) alterations caused by drainage or flooding projects, over browsing by locally high resident deer populations, or potential disruptions in aquatic ecosystems from non-native fish in lakes and streams
- pollution ranging from litter and trash accumulation to pollution of the water and air
- inconsistent development and management within or adjacent to natural areas
To remedy these problems, site conservation and management plans are being developed for each natural area. We are also providing guidelines and training opportunities to the managing divisions and area managers. Most importantly to you, we are committed to actively engaging local communities, industry, neighborhoods, and organizations in the implementation of stewardship activities on state natural areas. The goal is to develop and train volunteer stewards (see "Volunteer Stewardship" section) for each natural area and engage the local community in adequately protecting important ecological processes outside the boundaries of the natural areas. Volunteers are currently active in Berrien County at Warren Dunes Natural Area, Warren Woods Natural Area, Grand Mere National Natural Landmark, and Saugatuck Dunes.