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Archive | June, 2010

Activities at Howard Christensen Nature Center

Outdoor Survival Workshop for Families

July 7, 6:00-8:00 p.m. Learn what children should do if they are lost in the woods and how to NOT get lost. Activities are hands-on and will include hiking with interpretive instructor Nova Blackburn. Please contact HCNC to reserve your spot. Cost: $5 per family.

Nature Discovery Hour

July 15, 10:00-11:00 a.m. Introducing: Nature Discovery Hour (ages 2-6). This special “discovery hour” will provide a chance for our youngest naturalists to explore the Red Pine Center, visit “nature stations” indoors and hear a story. Afterwards, families are encouraged to take a hike and bring a sack lunch to eat on the trails or back in the interpretive center. This event is free! Please contact HCNC by phone or e-mail, so we know how many children to expect (child’s name, age, and phone number or e-mail address).

Wild Wednesday Day Camps:

Forests: July 21, 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Fields: August 18, 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. Young naturalists, ages 5-12, will “read the land” and learn about wildlife, plants and conservation topics in a hands-on manner. A different habitat will be featured each month, but all habitats will be explored. Activities include hiking, games, crafts and sharing time. Cost: $20 each camp/$15 for members. Registration due one week in advance.

Contact HCNC to get a registration form at (616) 675-3158, email hcnc@kentconservation.org, or visit http://www.kentconservation.org/images/Registration_Form.pdf

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New trail rest stop north of Rockford

On Saturday June 26, Tony Stachowiak, George Dorset, Jerry Zandbergen, and Dave Heyboer, of friends of the White Pine Trail, broke ground on a new covered picnic stop that is on the shoulder of the trail just north of Indian Lakes Road.

“If you are using that section of the trail, you will see some big changes over the next months as the land is cleared, cement is poured, and the covered picnic table is constructed,” said Heyboer. “If you happen to go by the crew as they work please make sure you thank them for their efforts. They are all volunteers and also trail users who want to give back and make your experience that much better.”

Repairs are also being made on the part of the trail near Rockford that was damaged by flooding.

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Elk, bear hunting opportunities for youths, ailing adults

The Department of Natural Resources and Environment reminds hunters that individuals who are selected for an elk or bear hunting license may donate their drawing success to a youth or to a hunter with an advanced illness.

The DNRE maintains a waiting list of eligible hunters who are interested in participating in a donated hunt. To register online for the waiting list, visit the DNRE website at www.michigan.gov/huntdrawings by July 1.

To be eligible for a donated hunt, youths must be unsuccessful applicants for 2010 bear or elk licenses. Youths must be between 10 and 16 years of age to hunt bear, 12 and 16 to hunt elk.

Individuals with advanced illnesses, as defined by the Public Health Code, need not have applied for the licenses to be eligible to receive the transferred license rights. However, they must complete the Physician Certification of Advanced Illness form, available at www.michigan.gov/huntdrawings.
After July 1, eligible individuals may contact the DNRE Wildlife Division at 517-241-1971 to see if additional opportunities exist.

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Man found guilty of illegally killing wolf in UP

A Gladwin man was sentenced on June 15 before Judge W. Clayton Graham in 92nd District Court in St. Ignace on one count of illegally killing a gray wolf. Michael Greaves, 47, was found guilty and ordered to pay $500 in fines and costs, along with $1,500 in restitution. His hunting privileges were also suspended for one year.

The charges were the result of a joint investigation between the Department of Natural Resources and Environment’s Law Enforcement Division conservation officers and detectives and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s special agents.

DNRE Wildlife Division Personnel received a mortality signal during the Upper Peninsula’s 2009 muzzleloading deer season from the collar that was attached to the wolf. The wolf was recovered by DNRE Wildlife Division and Law Enforcement Division personnel, and the forensic examination was subsequently conducted by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon.

A conviction for the illegal killing of a gray wolf could result in a maximum of 90 days in jail, a fine of $1000, and reimbursement of $1500. Conservation officers remind the public to report any information regarding the illegal killing of a wolf to the Report All Poaching Hotline at 1-800-292-7800.

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Ranger Steve’s Nature Niche

Wild ones in Cedar Springs

The “Wild Ones” gathered for an exploratory walk at Ody Brook on June 21 to view and discuss native plant landscaping. Forty-five people met for a two-hour walk to enjoy the plants and animals in a yard maintained to maximize increased varieties of life. We were greeted by the sounds of Blue-winged Warblers, Field Sparrows, and Eastern Towhees among other birds.

Along the drive we viewed the large leaves of skunk cabbage surrounded by sensitive ferns in the understory of native hardwood wetland trees. Many species of trees, shrubs, and ground plants provide food and shelter for an abundance of surprising wildlife species. Those plants muffle the sounds emanating from the highway traffic and keep it quieter around the home.

The walk up the drive brought us to higher ground where butterflies flitted around a landscape mound. Mowed lawn, field area, shrub land, and forest blended into an appealing landscape. Each was claimed by different wildlife where each species works daily to make its living. Some move among the different habitats. Like members of our human community, work duties are divided among specialists. Each species fills a different nature niche and some generalists have a variety of jobs.

The Common Yellowthroat seeks insects on floodplain shrubs to feed young birds. Kathy Bowler found Question Mark caterpillars eating American elm leaves. Ken Knight found a Viceroy Butterfly on willow. A House Wren announced its territory near birdhouses as the Wild Ones walked nearby. Quietly an Indigo Bunting stood watch in a treetop while an Eastern Phoebe vacated the open yard until the hoard of people passed.

Two sugar maple trees keep the home cool in summer by standing year round on the south and west sides of the home. In the winter they allow sunlight warmth through their naked branches. The dense stand of wetland trees and shrubs between the road and open yard prevent strong winds form taking heat away from around the house and reduce heating bills. In winter, strong winds are not noticed in the yard until we venture away from Ody Brook, where chilling winds are raising heating bills for neighbors who keep open sterile yards to south and north or us.

East of the house two ash trees were planted to provide light shade. Ash trees branches permit filtered light through so we get some morning sun warmth. This is where the phoebe often spends much of its day flying out from tree branches in search of tasty insect morsels. A nest is annually built or remolded in the carport.

Close to the house, it is mowed so we can sit enjoying the sunlight light on the back porch without mosquitoes disturbing us during sunny weather. At mid June, most of the backyard still has not received its first mowing or the year. The Wild Ones were able to experience a carpet of nearly solid pink and yellow flowers where mowing will occur after plants set seed. Many inquiries about plant names erupted from the group. Butterflies, birds, and an American toad, among others, find the yard a most pleasing home full of abundant life to meet individual needs. An Eastern Comma butterfly flitted back and forth above our heads as we compared the two planted 30-year-old ash trees. One tree is six feet tall and the other about 30 feet tall. The tall one has been allowed to grow freely. The shorter one is pruned Bonsai-style to six feet each year. It has a full dense green ball of foliage and is next to a butterfly garden. It appears like a large beautifully dense leaved shade tree in miniature.

Prairie Smoke is a Michigan threatened plant thriving on the sandy soils in the back yard along with Cut-leaved Grape Fern and Ebony Spleenwort. Seven ferns enrich the landscape. Thirty-one species of trees, about 25 species of shrubs, many forbs and grasses host hundreds of animal species needs. Thanks to native plants, we have birds, mammals, and amphibians, reptiles, and a wonderful array of beautiful insects to enjoy. Non-native ornamental plants are beautiful and I grow a few but they do not support many wildlife so we keep them to a minimum. Prior to our purchase of the property, the yard was mowed to the neighbors home and to the creek where fewer species could survive. Sun warmed the brook trout stream. By reducing the yard to the vicinity of the home, septic field and some selected clearings for wildlife, the yard is now haven for life and a wonderful place for wildlife.

I am always hopeful neighbors to the north and south will spend less time on mowers, save money by consuming less fuel mowing, and allow yards to replenish America’s native plant and wildlife diversity.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at the odybrook@chartermi.net  Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433. 616-696-1753.

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Gardening with Charlie

By Kathy Bond-Borie, Guest Columnist

What’s eating my potatoes?

(Family Features) – Potatoes are a fun crop to grow, especially when it comes time to dig for those buried treasures. Unfortunately, there are numerous pests that are also fond of potatoes. Here are the most common and what to do about them.

Colorado Potato Beetle

In spite of the name, these insects can be found in most states. Both the adults, which are yellowish with black stripes, and the larvae, which are dark red or orange with black spots, feed on potato foliage. Check the undersides of leaves for their orange egg masses and rub them off. Dispose of beetles in a can of soapy water. Bacillus thuringiensis ‘San Diego’ kills the young larvae and it’s harmless to beneficial insects, animals, and humans.

Flea Beetle

Flea beetles are tiny, black or brown, and pesky. They chew small holes in plant leaves and can do serious damage fast if they attack young plants. To foil these pests, cover young plants with fabric row covers as soon as you set them out. Keep flea beetle populations low through crop rotation and by maintaining high soil organic matter.


These tiny insects can transmit virus diseases. They suck juices from the leaves and stems of potato plants, stunting their growth. Insecticidal soap sprays are an effective control.


Wireworms are the larvae of the click beetle. They’re a problem when potatoes are planted in a section of garden that was recently in sod. Fully-grown wireworms are 1/2 to 1-1/2 inches long, slender, and brownish or yellowish white. They tunnel into plant roots and tubers, spoiling them. If your soil is heavily infested, contact your Extension Service for advice on solving the problem.


You may have a disease problem in the potato patch one year and none at all the next. The weather plays a big part in the health of a potato crop. Moisture and temperature conditions may trigger certain diseases, which will spread rapidly through the potato rows. But there’s no need to simply sit back and let the weather determine the fate of your crop.

To protect your crop, rotate the potato plot each year. Plant healthy, certified seed potatoes. If you have severe disease problems, consider using a standard potato dust or spray regularly throughout the season. These are chemical mixtures that prevent some diseases such as late blight. They thwart some pests, too, such as the Colorado potato beetle. If you use a potato dust or spray, read and follow the directions carefully. To be effective, most standard dusts must be applied to the potato foliage every 7 to 10 days, beginning when the plants emerge from the ground.

The fungus that causes common scab lives in the soil for many years. It’s not active when the soil pH is below 5.4, so if you have a serious scab problem, take a soil pH test. You may want to lower the pH by adding wood ashes to the potato bed. Avoid lime, which raises the pH.

For more tips and garden information visit www.garden.org.

A former floral designer and interior plantscaper, Kathy Bond-Borie has spent 20 years as a garden writer/editor, including her current role as Horticultural Editor for the National Gardening Association. She loves designing with plants, and spends more time playing in the garden – planting and trying new combinations – than sitting and appreciating it.

Courtesy of Family Features

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Teen killed by falling rock

A 17-year-old Cedar Springs High School student died Thursday, June 17,  when she was hit by a falling rock in Colorado.

According to Kate Rusch, spokesperson for Estes Park, Colorado, Audra Brownell, the daughter of Scott and Diane Brownell, of Algoma Township was struck about 4 p.m. in an open space off the Estes Park’s Town Hall parking lot called Knoll Willows. It was reportedly a town “green space” in a grassy area with a creek running through it. A cliff rises above the area.

Rusch said that emergency responders were on the scene immediately, and the young woman was pronounced dead from her injuries. The Estes Park Police Department is conducting a death investigation and interviewing numerous witnesses to the incident. The area was closed to the public until the investigation is complete.

“The community is devastated by this tragic incident and our thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim,” said Estes Park Mayor Bill Pinkham. “Our police department is working around the clock to sort out the details of the incident.”

The accident occurred while Audra was on a backpacking adventure with the senior high youth group at Rockford Reformed Church. “She was a wonderful Christian young lady,” said lead pastor Rick Tigchon, “a really sweet person.” He noted that she and her family are very involved in ministry at the church, and that Audra was especially involved in kids ministry. “A lot of people are grieving, it’s been very traumatic,” said Tigchon. “But we feel God will help us through it.”

Audra had just finished her junior year at Cedar Springs High School. “She was a fabulous young lady,” remarked principal Ron Behrenwald. “She was a little reserved, but not so much that it affected her socially or academically.” He said that she was in the top 10 of her class, and very academically oriented. She was just inducted into the National Honor Society last fall, and showed interest in going to Michigan State to study in the health/sciences field.

But Audra was more than academically oriented. “She was also very accomplished in band and was going to be section leader for the flutes next fall,” noted Behrenwald.

He said that during a grief session held for the students last Thursday, a lot of band students commented about Audra’s high expectations of herself and others. “She was focused, she knew her part, and they really respected that and said they would try to carry that on for future band members,” he explained.

Behrenwald said the grief session came about after several coaches, teachers, and other adults said that students were having a tough time dealing with Audra’s death. They gathered school counselors and some area youth pastors so that kids could come in and talk to a counselor or pray with a pastor. About 75-80 students and 16-18 parents took advantage of the session. “It was a really nice time to celebrate Audra’s life and for the kids to talk about the situation,” explained Behrenwald. “I’m glad we did it, I think it was helpful.”

Besides her parents, Audra leaves behind her sisters, Danae and Elena. Danae and Audra’s friend, Luke Sneed, were also on the backpacking trip.
The funeral service will be today (Thursday, June 24) at Our Lady of Consolation Church, 4865 11 Mile, Rockford.

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Celebration at park has roots in history

By Judy Reed

Thousands of people will flock to Salisbury Park in Sand Lake for the 141st annual July 4 celebration from July 1-4. This year’s celebration is titled “Looking back.” Many happy moments are cherished by those who have romped, played and celebrated there. But how many people actually know the rich history behind the park and the man it was named for?

The history of the park dates back to the founding fathers of Sand Lake. The first settlers began arriving in the 1850s when the land was still an unbroken wilderness. They began to cut and burn the lofty pines to clear the land for crops. Due to lack of transportation, there was no way to market the timber.

According to “The Sand Lake Story,” published in 1969 and sponsored by the Sand Lake Chamber of Commerce, a man named Robert Salisbury bought land in section 5 of Nelson Township in 1868. A year later, in 1869, the Grand Rapids & Indiana Railroad came through, and Sand Lake was born. Salisbury then set up a mill on the east side of Sand Lake.

In 1870, Salisbury was named the first official postmaster of Sand Lake. He distributed the mail from his mill, which soon became a hub of activity, as the fast-growing population trekked through the woods to find the post office, anxious to communicate with loved ones far away.

As the town grew, Salisbury and others wanted to bring order to the community. In 1871, Salisbury and Fred Wetmore ordered a plat of a village to be designed by William Thornton of Rockford. A block in the center was left open for a park to be named after Salisbury. He left the area in 1872, after selling his mill to Frank Seeley, who had lost his own mill in a fire.

The first community project embarked on by the young people of the town focused on the park. A series of parties was held in the parlor of the Sand lake House to raise money to clear the old stumps from the park and plant Maple trees. Anyone who donated a dollar was entitled to name a tree. Enough money was raised, and Charles and Wood Simpson were hired to blast out the stumps.

The young Maple trees were soon planted but it was quickly realized that they had an unlikely enemy—the cows that grazed in the park. The saplings were protected with the use of stakes and string.

At one time, there was a plan to change the boundary lines of the townships in upper Kent County. The intent was to create a new county, of which Sand Lake might be the seat. When the plan was scrapped, the opening in the park, which had been left for a courthouse, was turned into a baseball diamond. It was reported to be the scene of much cussing when opposing ball players lost the ball in the leaves of the towering maples.

For years the park has been the center of merrymaking. Veterans of the Civil War invited friends and old cronies to a week of reunion in tents at the park, as the whole countryside helped celebrate. Refrains of old Civil War tunes could be heard day and night during the celebrations. The annual Old Settler’s picnic drew crowds from the surrounding areas on a Thursday in August for more than 50 years. There have been sparkling July 4 celebrations there since the beginning of the town. Salisbury Park has also been the site of tent meetings, softball games, horseshoe pitching, concerts, and political speeches.

The Seventh Day Adventist Church held tent meetings in the park before purchasing property across the street (to the east) for their church. The congregation disbanded in 1965, and the building was then used as the Sand Lake Library. That building was eventually moved across the street to the park, and is now the Sand Lake Museum.

The museum is home to a variety of mementoes from the early days of Sand Lake, including vintage copies of the Sand Lake Herald, railroad relics, and oodles of old photos and books chock full of the history of Sand Lake. For those interested in learning more, the museum will be open each day during the Sand Lake fair, from noon to 4 p.m.

As you stroll through Salisbury Park next week, revel in the festivities, laugh with friends, and become part of history. Experience a tradition that has been carried on for 141 years.

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Cedar Pub Restaurant Great food, good spirits

More than spirits, The Cedar Pub has a taste of great dining with their menu selection of “not-fast-food” served fast.

Owner Rand Ruwersma takes pride in the variety of homemade menu items available to customers—23 in all, not including appetizers. “It’s a lot more than a bar,” he noted.

Ruwersma, with over 20 years of restaurant experience under his belt, makes lots of items on his own, including Bleu Cheese and Thousand Island dressings, and the marinade for his chicken wraps and fajita salad. One of his most popular menu items is the quarter or half-pound burger always made with fresh grade A ground chuck.

Cedar Pub has daily specials, with smoke pulled pork on Thursday, and Lake perch on Fridays. Other weekend specials include prime rib, steaks, ribs, and a marinated chicken that he cooks on a charcoal grill.

The menu includes four fresh salads and 17 different appetizers, with chicken wings and potato skins being two of the favorites.

And you don’t have to drink to visit Cedar Pub. Besides having 75 different liquors and 43 domestic and imported beers, the restaurant bar also has a variety of non-alcoholic beverages available, including non-alcoholic beer, juices, non-alcoholic daiquiris, pop, etc.

Cedar Pub, located at 69 S. Main Street, just across from City Hall, serves food Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Saturday 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. Also, check out upcoming parties and specials on their facebook page. Search for cedarpubbar.

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City Council clips

City signs staging area contract

The Cedar Springs City Council signed the staging area grant/contract document at its last regular meeting on June 10. The Michigan DNRE Trust fund gave the city a grant of $100,000 to construct the staging area for the White Pine Trail just west of Second Street, between Maple and Elm. Earlier this year the city tore down an old building there that had been used for coal storage.
The building and property was donated to the city of Cedar Springs for a staging area by the Gust family, with the stipulation that a memorial structure of some type be created for their mother, Clara Gust, 88.

City manager Christine burns said construction on the staging area should be completed by fall.

Overnight parking in public lots

Residents who have a problem with enough parking at their home may get some relief. The city of Cedar Springs is considering lifting the ban on overnight parking in public lots in the wintertime. Currently, people cannot park in public lots from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. from Nov. 1 to April 1. The council voted 5-2 to have City Manager Christine Burns draft an ordinance regarding the issue. Voting against was Christine Fahl and Ronny Merlington.

City gives raises

The city of Cedar Springs gave raises averaging 2.3 percent to city workers effective July 1 with the new budget. Last year workers went without raises due to revenue sharing cuts, and police officers took five furlough days.

Veteran’s Memorial Park

Construction has started on Veteran’s Memorial Park at the corner of Oak and Main Street. The dedication is scheduled for July 4th at 11:00 a.m.  The public is invited to attend. The park is being constructed with all volunteer labor and donations. If you’d like to donate, contact Dan Brown at 292-8767 or City Manager Chris Burns at 696-1330.

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