Bill's Natural Resources Page
It seems these days that every builder and developer is trying to be identified with the "green" movement by touting their various building products and ideas. While we have always strive to utilize all possible environmentally friendly and energy saving products in our new homes, we would like to reflect on our personal long standing commitment to the environment-- long before "green" became a popular buzzword.
While building quality homes for our customers has always been our passion, our ultimate satisfaction has been developing land in a way that few developers can relate to. The above photos are are just a few illustrations of what we have done with our homestead property since we purchased it back in 1993. Our ultimate goal was to create the greatest possible diversity of wildlife habitat on a 110 acre parcel of land, using the existing natural features as a starting point.
The first step when we bought the property was obvious. The upper portion of the property was very light sandy loam-- perfect for evergreens. In this 45+ acre section, our initial planting was some 25,000 trees, which included White Pine, Norway Spruce, and also Red Maple, White Ash, and Black Hills Spruce. The benefits of this stand has been enormous. The biggest attribute has been winter thermal cover for wildlife, whitetail deer in particular. Whitetail deer naturally migrate to these evergreen stands to avoid cold winter winds which would otherwise sap their precious winter fat reserves, and to avoid detection by humans and other predators. Many other wildlife species seek out this type of cover for the same reason(s).
No ecosystem can flourish without adequate food sources. The lower river bottom area we discovered was very unique. It had unusually rich soils with high PH levels, along with a high water table which made it ideal for growing crops like Ladino and White Clover, which are a cherished year-round food source by deer, turkeys and waterfowl. Other small pockets within the evergreen forest were planted to fall and winter food sources like wild apple, crab apple and wild pear trees.
The slightly higher river bottom area consisting of over 30 acres was planted into Switch-grass. Switch-grass, being one of the "Big Three" North American tall prairie grasses, has proved to be the ideal 3rd leg of our habitat project. Unlike other tall grasses, it will stand (5'-6') all winter long, and provide cover for all animals from quail to deer. In the spring and summer months, Switch-grass is unmatched for ground nesting birds like ducks, turkeys and pheasants, as well as fawning areas for does.
There were water related projects as well, like establishing a riparian buffer/filter strip along the riverbank, and creation of potholes in low areas for inland water sources.
The property is currently enrolled in the P.A. 116 Designated Open Space Program, after being voted on and approved by the Michigan Legislature. In order for a property to qualify for this program, it must meet certain criteria including abutting a scenic natural river or lake shore. The Flat River is one of the few rivers in Michigan which carry the "Scenic Natural River" designation. There are currently only 16 other properties in Michigan approved and enrolled in this open space preservation program.
These conservation projects were nothing new to Bill. From an early age, Bill's father captured his interest in habitat restoration when they worked on a seemingly never ending quest to reforest hundreds of acres of land in Vergennes Township purchased over time by Bill's father. Most of this land is now enrolled in the Commercial Forest Act, a state land preservation program which provides public recreation opportunities.
We encourage all to be good stewards of the land wherever possible. Get involved. Habitat work can be infectious, and is really not "work" if you love what you are doing and can witness the tangible results. If you see a patch of ground of any size and it's not producing anything, assess it, and make it productive. We all take from what God has given us, hopefully we can all help to give something back that current and future generations will appreciate.