Volunteers plant trees in Rogers City

Planting improves water quality, climate resilience

Courtesy Photos from Huron Pines Huron Pines Water Program Director Samantha Nellis and Eric Roorda of Harrisville dig a hole for a tree together. Roorda is busy reforesting his father’s property and took the opportunity of a volunteer event to learn a few more tips about replanting.

ROGERS CITY — Volunteers made quick work of planting 55 trees at Herman Vogler Conservation Area in Rogers City on May 1. Conservation organization Huron Pines led the event alongside Presque Isle Conservation District, which manages the 270-acre recreation area northwest of Rogers City. Twenty-five volunteers installed trees at three sites in an effort to improve water quality and establish a forest that’s more resilient to climate change. Volunteers were each given trees to plant on their own properties, extending the effort throughout the area.

The trees will help keep the Trout River and Lake Huron cleaner by filtering out pollutants found in stormwater runoff during rainstorms and snowmelt. Runoff can carry salt, dirt, oil and fertilizer across the ground where it can drain directly into the river and indirectly into Lake Huron through drainage pipes. Polluted runoff can result in beach closures and degraded fish and wildlife habitat which can impact recreation, tourism and the environmental health of communities.

Tree root systems absorb and filter stormwater before it has a chance to drain into nearby bodies of water. The canopy, or above-ground section of trees, slows down and deflects stormwater, releasing it into the atmosphere to reduce the amount of water that reaches the ground in the first place.

“Natural resource conservation is part of the community’s identity in Rogers City,” said Samantha Nellis, Water Program Director for Huron Pines. “They are eager to take action, and planting trees is just one step in our restoration goals for the area.”

Tree species included silky dogwood, sugar maple, bur oak, white birch, red oak, Eastern red cedar and serviceberry. The bur oak and red cedar were chosen specifically to see how they fare beyond the northern extent of their traditional range.

Above, from left to right, Gregory Bator, PICD District Forester Brittany VanderWall, Cecelia Bator and Huron Pines Water Program Director Samantha Nellis at a volunteer tree planting event at Herman Vogler Conservation Area May 1.

“It’s an experiment to add some climate change resiliency to the property,” said Brittany VanderWall, District Forester for the Presque Isle Conservation District.

Rogers City Mayor Scott McLennan was among the volunteers that morning.

“Everyone needs to accept that it’s natural resources which make Rogers City the place to live,” he said. “It’s great to see the next generation embracing that. It’s a big deal.”

The project was supported by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Sustain Our Great Lakes Program. Planted trees came from Barker Creek Nursery in Williamsburg, while volunteers were sent home with additional trees from the conservation district’s tree sale. Morgan Composting donated potting mix.

Herman Vogler Conservation Area was established in 1989 when Presque Isle Conservation District acquired the property from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources as a recreation space for the public.

Rick Karbon of Rogers City finishes planting a tree during a Huron Pines volunteer event at Herman Vogler Conservation Area. He has been coming here since childhood to fish the Trout River. “I hope they do this every year,” he said.

Huron Pines is a nonprofit organization established in 1973 to conserve and enhance Northern Michigan’s natural resources to ensure healthy water, protected places and vibrant communities. With offices in Gaylord and Alpena, Huron Pines strives to improve economic, environmental, educational and recreational opportunities throughout Northern Michigan. To learn more, visit huronpines.org.

Nick Johnson of Moltke Township chops a hole for a tree.

Fenlynn Johnson shovels away dirt for a tree.


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