Autumn in the UP

Autumn is a wonderful time of year. Leaves change color and occasionally there are four inches of snow on the ground. My favorite time in the forest is when the upper leaves have fallen allowing for light to reach the under story plants and illuminate their leaves.



I have been helping the summer seasonal crews finish up their work projects. Went out with the invasive species crew for a couple days, mainly focused on cut stump herbicide for glossy buck thorn and honeysuckle. A couple kids got their truck stuck in a deep hole, went back with them the next day to get it out. Rode in a couple mile on four-wheeler, cut up some logs and used a hi-lift to put them under the four tires, then used a come-along to pull the truck while I drove it out. Made it safely back onto solid ground.

I had the opportunity to do some stream work which had been delayed by heavy rains. Went sampling for invertebrates and taking measurements of the banks. When we arrived at one of the sites, the truck said it was 22 degrees outside, water temp was right around freezing. Couldn’t wait for the sun to reach us. No pictures, too cold and wet.

Also helped out at the nursery, moving flats of trees from greenhouses outside for the winter. The snow provides good insulation for the roots. Also some planting and moving irrigation pipe.


September Fun

I spent some quality time out in the field conducting the last of the field surveys. Although not here yet, autumn is on its way.The colors are beginning to appear.

I finished up the lake surveys with a monster day of paddling a collecting, about 15 miles in total. The wind was not helpful in the least.

We spent several days working on the bilberry project. We planted about 450 plugs at three new sites, weeded the others to try and help with establishment. Another day, I went out with some wildlife biologists to evaluate the potential for sustaining a  population of blue northern butterfly and some ideas for sourcing them from on the forest

I played hero for the day by discovering a new population of Panax quinquefolius. Just a couple of plants but also some evidence of seed production.

Panax quinquefolius


Some other interesting plants from the forest:

July in Michigan

Always projects to work on, never a dull moment. The Vacciniums and many varieties of Rubus are all ripe. Easy forging while working in the woods. I got a break from the forest to spend a day snorkeling and freediving  to remove the invasive aquatic species Myriophyllum spicatum. The site was near a popular boat launch which provides access to a wilderness area. The M. spicatum has not spread into the adjoining waterways leading into the wilderness area. Even paddlers need to be reminded to clean their boats and equipment.

Also began doing some aquatic and emergent species surveys. The first was in a dammed lake which has been proposed for removal. The dam was constructed sixty years ago as a recreational site and now is being removed due to lack of use.

I had the opportunity to do some interpretive work between forest wildlife biologists and their Spanish speaking chainsaw crew. The crew had a contract to maintaining a wildlife opening and help was need to communicate which trees and shrubs to cut, girdle, and/or save.

I did some work with a group of campers to create a native plant garden. Preparing the site with a rototiller, putting down compost and mulch, and then planting with the campers.

Some more plant photos!!


June on the Ottawa

I’ve been keeping busy up here in the North woods. I conducted plant surveys for areas which have been proposed for timber sales, searching for listed plants. Also, I spent some time collecting data for the final year of a two year study looking at bee diversity on the forest with pan traps and opportunistic netting. Specimens were put into alcohol and sent to a third party for identification. I was responsible for three of the nine observation sites on the forest.

I checked in on the establishment of some experimental plots of Vaccinium cespitosum. The V. cespitosum is an obligate host plant for larvae of the  northern blue butterfly (Plebejus idas), a listed species which has been extirpated from most areas of the forest. Also got to spent some time working with the youth conservation corps to remove an abandoned hunting cabin from the forest which was officially considered a dump site.

The forest has been providing an abundance of delicious oyster mushrooms.

And, for some fun, here are some of the neat plants I have encountered.


Livin’ it U.P.

Hello CLM blog readers

“Oh wow” pretty much sums up my initial experiences on the Ottawa National Forest in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The office is involved with different projects in the forest, many of which require onsite inspections and a chance to explore the regional flora. The Ottawa is currently emerald ash bore free however, its arrival is imminent. The Eco team, under the assumption that the black-ash will disappear, is making plans to protect the black-ash swamp communities. The plan is to identify large, predominantly black-ash swamps, girdle some black-ash trees, and then reseed the area with suitable tree species in order to replace the black-ash stands while keeping the surrounding community intact.

Forest service worker sanding near a large Thuja occidentals.

Also, I participated with other projects including: species surveys, tree planting along a riparian corridor, installing an experimental barrier at a boat launch to prevent the spread of invasive species on boats, and working with students and community partners to manually control garlic mustard. Instead of going into detail on all these projects, I will provide a short montage of cool plants I have seen on the Ottawa.

COUNT IT: I made the front page of the local paper, it was below the fold but I think it still counts. The entire office was out taking care of our adopted highway. I probably would have gone with a different caption.

Micah Melczer

U.S. Forest Service, Ottawa Supervisors Office, Ironwood, MI