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Wild Link Connects Beaver Island Archipelago

August 7, 2013

Many of CRA’s habitat improvement projects are centered in the streams, rivers, and other waterways of northern Michigan. While many people appreciate how our projects improve water quality and fish habitat, less is known about how reptiles, amphibians and birds are impacted by this work.

To get a better understanding of how we can maintain and improve habitat for reptiles, amphibians and birds as well as other wildlife species in one of Michigan’s most unique ecosystems, CRA is coordinating with partners to survey habitats and remove invasive species in the Beaver Island archipelago.

In Islands of Life (2010) by the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Beaver Island is listed as the highest scoring biodiversity island in Lake Michigan. However, in this same report Beaver Island is listed in the top ten most threatened islands in the Great Lakes. Invasive species have a higher chance of being transported here due to considerable residential and recreational development. Native plants here are easily overwhelmed by invasive species such as common reed (Phragmites australis) and purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria).

That’s where conservation partners like CRA can play a pivotal role in protecting and conserving this unique ecosystem. We have been actively conducting plant, bird and herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians) surveys to help us determine where the highest quality sites are located.

CRA contracted Herpetological Resource and Management and the Michigan Natural Features Inventory who are surveying the area during the 2013 field season. CRA will soon have data for over 475 acres of permanently protected land in this island system. Survey locations include Little Traverse Conservancy preserves and private properties with conservation easements.

These sites will then be at the top of the list to protect and restore from invasive species in 2014. Stay tuned for the survey results and invasive species removal projects.

Special thanks to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation - Sustain Our Great Lakes program for providing critical funding for this project and thank you to our project partners including Beaver Island Association, Central Michigan University, Little Traverse Conservancy, Michigan DNR and The Nature Conservancy.

Photos:

Top left: Ring-necked snake (Diadophis punctatus edwardii) found during survey work on Beaver Island.
2nd left: Pitcher plants (Sarracenia purpurea) and cranberry in one of Beaver Island's bogs.
3rd left: A young painted turtle (Chrysemys picta).
Bottome left: Michigan monkeyflower (Mimulus michiganensis), a federally endangered species since 1990 and the only plant endemic to Michigan, is found on Beaver Island.

 

 


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10850 Traverse Highway, Suite 1180
Traverse City, MI 49684
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