Conservation Resource Alliance
Call 231-946-6817


Nature Change – Conversations About Conservation and Climate

March 7, 2016
Contact: Joe VanderMeulen, M.S., Ph.D., Science Journalist 231.631.1729 joevandermeulen@outlook.com

If most of the ash trees are dead, beech trees are dying and new pests are approaching Michigan’s hemlock and maple trees, what will our northern forests look like in the years ahead?

Will the changing climate make a difference to what grows up to replace the lost trees? And how does all this change impact the birds and animals that populate the beautiful landscapes of northwest lower Michigan?

Whether you live in Glen Arbor, Harbor Springs or anywhere in between, the natural resources around you are changing. Some of the changes are shocking, like the forest blow down last August in the Sleeping Bear Dunes Lakeshore National Park. Other changes are happening little by little, as oak wilt spreads, beech scale infects more trees and new pests move into the area.

These are topics that all of us in northwest lower Michigan need to think and talk about. And that’s why six of the region’s leading conservation nonprofits have banded together to launch a new on-line, multimedia magazine called Nature Change – Conversations About Conservation and Climate (NatureChange.org).

With funding from the Americana Foundation, the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation’s Land Use Conservation and Planning Endowment and the Marana Webber Tost Charitable Fund of the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation, there is now a place to share these stories.

Featuring short videos or mini-documentaries as well as photo essays, NatureChange.org highlights the work of natural resource managers and volunteer conservationists. The site includes witness statements by regional experts as well as brief stories about the difficult choices that must be made as development, invasive species and climate change threaten and alter our region’s landscapes.

Leading the cooperative effort, Conservation Resource Alliance (CRA) is well known throughout the region for working to protect and restore Northern Michigan’s waters and wildlife, including habitat restoration. Amy Beyer, CRA’s Executive Director noted that this is a great project for their organization.

“Much of our time is spent working around forests, wetlands and streams; telling the stories of this work has always been big on our list. We can see and feel changes in the field that impact our work like the increasing frequency of big downpours. These are big challenges for resource managers and our community.”

Another project participant is the Little Traverse Conservancy (LTC) based in Harbor Springs. One of the oldest conservancies in Michigan, LTC manages and protects natural resources on over 55,000 acres of land including some of the state’s most diverse forests, wetlands and shorelines. LTC Executive Director, Tom Bailey says this new on-line magazine will deal with issues critical to the future of our region.

“NatureChange.org is unique because of its broad, resource-oriented perspective on changes taking place in natural systems across our service area. We’re seeing enormous impacts on the land and in the water from exotic species and diseases. Whole forests are changing because of the emerald ash borer and beech bark disease—and more imported, exotic diseases are threatening. Wildlife populations are shifting, too. It’s much more than what is often called the climate change debate, it’s about what we’re seeing on the land.”

The Leelanau Conservancy is another of the participating organizations calling for a regional conversation about the future of our natural resources. Executive Director, Tom Nelson hopes the new publication will help stimulate serious, effective discussions.

“The first thing that grabs your attention about NatureChange.org—and it’s something we sincerely appreciate—is that it’s actively facilitating a broader dialogue about the transformative challenges climate change is posing for all of us, every day. NatureChange.org is more than a great tool for resource managers. Without the kind of thoughtful inquiry NatureChange.org is bringing to the fore, our communities cannot begin to adequately address the serious impacts to the natural resources so deeply cherished by everyone in Northwest Lower Michigan.”

Executive Director of the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation, Dr. Philp L. Ellis says that the NatureChange.org encourages conversation about the preservation of our natural resources.

“This aligns with our vision of an exemplary philanthropic region supporting strong, vibrant and healthy communities now and for generations to come,” Ellis said. “Helping to understand change can inform us of how to best assure the health and wellbeing of and for those who follow us.”

Other nonprofit groups involved in this effort include The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay, LIAA – UpNorth Media Center and the Grand Traverse Conservation District.

According to Christine Crissman, Executive Director of The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay, Great Lakes coastal communities are already feeling the impacts of climate change and variability.

“Communities across the Grand Traverse Bay region have witnessed changes in lake ice cover, seasonal precipitation, air and lake temperatures and storm severity,” Crissman said. “These changes must be considered as we plan for population growth and urbanization in our watershed, and NatureChange.org is a wonderful forum in which these issues can be addressed and discussed.”

LIAA’s UpNorth Media Center is helping to develop the video stories and expects to share them on regional cable access television. LIAA’s Executive Director, Harry Burkholder wants to see this information reach an expanding audience.

“As smart communities look to build resilience in an increasingly unpredictable world, the process can be informed by practical observations from those with long experience in the environment. This is the type of critical local insight presented by NatureChange.org, and we are glad to help make this information available.”

The project is being managed by Dr. Joe VanderMeulen for CRA. As the past director of LIAA and an experienced science journalist, VanderMeulen is hoping to expand participation in the discussion and the on-line magazine by reaching out to other nonprofit organizations and resource management agencies.

“We need many voices and a whole lot of expertise engaged in this conversation,” VanderMeulen said. “We are witnessing huge changes in the ecosystems of our region and much of that is very destabilizing. As climate changes and invasive pests continue to disrupt plant and animal systems, we will need to be much more proactive to preserve, protect and restore the natural beauty and diversity of our region.”


Nature Change Press Release

Archives
2019
2018
May (1)
2017
May (3)
June (2)
July (1)
2016
May (2)
June (2)
July (1)
2015
May (2)
June (1)
2014
May (3)
June (5)
July (5)
2013
May (1)
July (4)
2012
May (2)
2011
May (1)
June (4)
2010
June (2)
2009
May (3)
June (1)
2008
May (1)
June (1)
July (3)
2007
May (5)
July (3)
2006
June (2)
July (3)
2005
June (1)
July (5)
2004
May (2)
June (1)
2003
May (8)
June (4)
July (3)
2002
May (4)
June (2)
July (3)
2001
1999
June (1)

Become a CRA Member

Our partners and supporters, like you, are what really make a difference. Your support of our organization and projects are what make the biggest impact. We appreciate your investment. Together, we do great work. 

E-Newsletter Sign-up

Sign up for our e-newsletter to keep current with news and other happenings at CRA!

Conservation Resource Alliance

Bayview Professional Centre
10850 Traverse Highway, Suite 1180
Traverse City, MI 49684
231-946-6817

SIGN UP