We will visit sites within the Three Rivers State Game Area that exemplify the value of these public lands for supporting populations of rare plant species, in particular species with savanna affinities, such as Silene stellata, Scutellaria elliptica, and Viburnum prunifolium. These sites also emphasize the critical role of prudent management of our public lands, for maintaining populations of rare species, and the quality and connectivity of natural communities.
Three Rivers and the nearby Crane Pond State Game Areas, headquartered in Jones, Michigan consist of 2,126 and 4,267 acres of public land, respectively covering eastern Cass and western St Joseph counties. Together they provide critical habitat for a myriad of game and non-game species supporting over 1,500 acres of high-quality natural communities. They contain 4,250 acres of forest nearly 600 acres of which is documented high-quality beech-maple and oak-hickory forest. Given the intensive agricultural and other anthropogenic development in the surrounding countryside the large tracts of contiguous natural land cover provided by these vast tracts of public land are vital for habitat and species conservation in the region. Large tracts of mature forest are particularly important for supporting interior forest obligate bird species. They also protect water quality in adjacent wetlands which in turn support an array of rare insects, reptiles, amphibians, and birds. These areas are also a focus of regional land management planning efforts involving private partners such as the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy.
In 2018 Michigan Natural Features Inventory ecologists conducted surveys of as part of the Department of Natural Resources Michigan Forest Inventory (MiFI). These surveys collected information on basic stand data and helped target the locations of previously undocumented exemplary natural community Element Occurrences (EOs).
Trip guide is Tyler Bassett of MBC, a botanist with the Michigan Natural Features inventory. He is a Botanist and Plant Ecologist with the Michigan Natural Features Inventory. He has 20 years of experience studying the plants and plant communities of the Upper Midwest. The prairie-savanna landscape of southwest Michigan, which supports a disproportionately high number of regionally imperiled plant species, is particularly dear to him. His work, in part, aims to document and conserve these species, to restore, expand, and reconnect the diminishing fragments of habitat that they require for persistence.
Directions: We will meet up with Tyler at the Shell Gas Station, 10729 M60, Jones 49061, located on the SE corner of M-60/M-40 at 10 a.m..Driving time about 50 minutes from Kalamazoo. Car Pooling option: leave 8:45 am from the Park & Ride at 131 and Centre St. ( Pls email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org if you will be car pooling with us.