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Archive | Outdoors

Wind Chill and Redpolls

A couple hikers joined me for an enjoyable sunny windy day hike at Ody Brook. Wind chill was in the single digits, but the air temperature was 21ºF. We walked the Big Woods Loop where there was little wind which meant wind chill was mostly non-existent.  

As we walked, we discussed wind chill. Wind causes heat to be removed from objects more rapidly than when air is still. By definition “wind chill” is what the temperature would feel like if there were no wind. The temperature might be 21ºF but if the wind removes heat rapidly, it might feel like 6ºF. 

Stated more concisely, the actual temperature might be 21ºF, but the wind makes if feel the same as 6ºF. 

Though wind chill refers to what the temperature feels like, it is based on how rapidly heat is removed by wind. Your home will lose heat more rapidly when wind gusts against windows and siding than when air is still. This affects how often the furnace must run and how much fuel is required to keep the house warm. 

Even though the house cannot feel, wind chill affects the speed of heat loss and your utility bill. Planting trees or shrubs that reduce the wind hitting your home will save dollars, energy, and reduce carbon output. 

As we hiked the deep woods, there was no wind rapidly sweeping heat away from our bodies. The temperature felt like 21ºF instead of 6ºF. When we reached the forest/farm field border, wind penetrated our layered clothing and it felt much colder. 

We were savvy enough to wear heavy winter wear, good gloves, and stocking hats to slow heat loss. No shorts or T-shirts that day.

Birds like Common Redpolls adjust behavior to stay warmer. They move to areas protected from the wind, so they are more comfortable. They increase feeding to recharge fat being quickly lost. 

Greg spotted a flock of redpolls feeding on speckled alder catkins hanging from shrubs in the swamp. They are smaller than goldfinches and travel in flocks. They have mostly brown feathers that conceal distinguishing characteristics if lighting is not good. 

I did not get a good look at the red cap of feathers on top their heads or the black chin because they were silhouetted against the bright sky. About 60 birds were feeding nearby but getting a good look at them was difficult. Finally, some moved to locations where trees and shrubs were behind them instead of a bright sky. That made it possible for me to see their red caps, black chin, brown striped bodies, darker gray wing feathers, and notched tail. By notched tail, I mean they have a small V shape notch in the middle tail end where outer feathers are longer than inner feathers. This creates the V notch. 

I like to view bird pattern details in addition to watching behavior. I expect Common Redpolls to visit during the winter months after migrating from their arctic summer breeding range. They are a treat by being seasonal winter visitors. During cold winter days, they might venture to our neighborhoods to feed in open shrubby areas. It is good to look for them in swampy alder thickets where they feed on wintering flower catkins hanging on the shrubs. Their small conical sparrow-like bill allows them to pick apart the catkin flower buds.

Don’t allow wind chill to keep you inside. Go exploring for redpolls, juncos, and American Tree Sparrows. 

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

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Grand Rapids Audubon Club’s Ranger Steve (Mueller)Presenting: Wilderness — Unique Treasure

Ranger Steve

By Ranger Steve Mueller

Date: Monday, January 31, 2022

Time: 7:00 PM social; 7:30 PM program

Location: John Donnelly Conference Center, Aquinas College, 157 Woodward Lane SE (between Fulton Street and Robinson Road) Parking is available in Lots “S” and “T” off Woodward Ln.
The Center entrance is on the north side of the building.
OR virtually via ZOOM (see instructions below)

Based on the writing of Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac, the importance and values for protecting wilderness remnants for recreation, science, and wildlife will be illustrated with pictures of one of Americas most unique and fragile, ecosystems. The life and majesty of American Red Rock Wilderness of Southern Utah will be visited through prose and poetry by well-known authors and will include original poetry by Ranger Steve. The region supports California Condors, Peregrine Falcons, Lazuli buntings, and a rich biodiversity including the rare Nokomis Fritillary. The program weaves science, emotion, and reason to support the American Red Rock Wilderness Act before Congress. The program will touch mind, body, and soul.

People will have the option of attending in person at the Donnelly Center or joining the meeting virtually via ZOOM. Those who choose to attend in person, please follow the COVID-19 protocols listed below. There will be no refreshments served before the meeting. To attend via Zoom, follow the directions below. For those unable to attend, a YouTube video of the meeting is usually available on the GRAC website the day following the meeting.

Details for using the Zoom meeting option below.

Step #1: Go to https://tinyurl.com/mrf2u2dn

Step #2: Enter meeting ID: 853 0438 0380

Step #3: Enter passcode: 962909

Meeting Requirements

We will be holding our in-person membership meetings at the Donnelly Center on the Aquinas College campus with the following protocols.

(1) Regardless of vaccination status attendees will be required to properly wear a mask covering the nose and mouth while indoors.

(2) Social distancing is required for all members outside a personal household. This applies regardless of vaccination status.

(3) Attendees will be asked to provide name and contact information in the event contact tracing is required.

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

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Give feedback on Michigan’s wolf management plan by Jan. 31

WolThe Michigan Department of Natural Resources is updating the state’s wolf management plan and is seeking public comment, via online survey through Jan. 31, about the future of wolf management.


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The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is updating the state’s wolf management plan and is seeking public comment, via online survey through Jan. 31, about the future of wolf management.

The current plan, created in 2008 and updated in 2015, was developed using extensive public input to identify important issues and assess public attitudes toward wolves and their management and by reviewing the biological and social science relevant to wolf management.

New public input gathered on the 2015 plan will help inform an updated plan to be completed this year. The four principal goals within the 2015 plan are to:

Maintain a viable wolf population.

Facilitate wolf-related benefits.

Minimize wolf-related conflicts.

Conduct science-based and socially acceptable management of wolves.

The plan and, more specifically, these four principal goals have guided wolf management in Michigan for the last 13 years. The 2022 update will include recent scientific literature and new information regarding wolves in Michigan.

“As we work to update the 2015 wolf management plan, it’s important that we gather feedback from the public about how we can improve the plan to protect the long-term health of wolves while also meeting the needs of local communities,” said Cody Norton, DNR large carnivore specialist.

Michigan’s gray wolf population was nearly eliminated by the mid-1970s due to persecution and active predator control programs in the early part of the 20th century. Today, Michigan’s wolf population numbers close to 700 individuals in the Upper Peninsula. Gray wolves were removed from the federal endangered species list in early 2021, a decision that is currently being challenged in court. 

Those interested in providing feedback should complete the online survey by Jan. 31.

For more information about wolves in Michigan, including links to the survey and the state’s wolf management plan, visit Michigan.gov/Wolves.

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Accumulating snow

By Ranger Steve Mueller

Ranger Steve

A fresh accumulating snow is exciting. Duzi, our dog, had great fun chasing snowflakes as they fell. When was the last time you caught snowflakes with your outstretched tongue? 

If only the snow would avoid falling on the roads and sidewalks. Shoveling is enjoyable when the snow is light and fluffy. The heavy wet snows make it a chore. 

How animals enjoy the snow is a mystery, but the snow is used in many ways. Rodents like deer mice and meadow voles burrow under the snow in a long series of tunnels. Weasels with long sleek bodies follow the tunnels making it easier to find a juicy warm meal. Short-tailed shrews are omnivores that eat a great variety of plant and animal matter. Moles continue to burrow underground throughout the winter. When spring arrives, we discover where they pushed soft dirt from tunnels. Most people do not appreciate dirt piles in the lawn.

The good news is that moles churn and aerate the topsoil making it healthier for plant root growth and water absorption. 

Hunting becomes more challenging for Red-tailed hawks because many prey species stay beneath snow cover. 

Reproduction continues throughout the winter for species like mice, shrews, and rabbits. This improves predator feeding opportunities. 

Some animals like chipmunks stay in burrows during the coldest weather where they have stored seeds to eat during lean times. Gray and Fox squirrels remain active in trees and are seen on top of snow or in trees even in the hardest of times. 

If the year has been a good acorn production year, squirrels have buried many acorns that will be dug up and eaten. It is not completely clear whether they remember where they buried seeds, but I think much of the retrieval depends on their sense of smell. Where the excessive exotic gypsy moth caterpillar population defoliated vegetation, trees use stored energy to produce a new set of leaves instead of producing acorns. Most of the trees will survive the foliage devastation but animals depending on acorns will experience greater starvation. This includes many insects and birds that feed on oak feeding insects.

During the recent snows that were not deep, we followed rabbit, squirrel, mice, vole, fox, and cat tracks. I do not appreciate cats exploring Ody Brook and killing wildlife. I like cats provided they are kept as indoor pets. Outdoor cats stalk bird feeders and wild areas killing birds and mammals. We find scattered feathers at kill sites. 

Many animals serve as winter food for a variety of predators. It is a joy to see hawks like the Cooper’s and Red-tailed hunting the neighborhood. They have an important nature niche to fill. Lately we have been hearing a Great Horned Owl hooting at 5 a.m. Owls help prevent rabbits from girdling shrubs and young trees.

At 3 a.m., I let Duzi out for a potty break and heard a wonderful chorus of coyotes yapping to each other under a nearly full moon in accumulating snow. There is living space and food for prey and predators in healthy habitats. 

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

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Showcasing the DNR

Exploring the outdoors in 52 Michigan adventures

By Rachel Coale, Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Last New Year’s Eve, before the twinkle lights, champagne and lyrics of “Auld Lang Syne” carried us into 2021, I found myself in the quiet, cloudy woods at Sleepy Hollow State Park in Clinton County.

Inspired by the popular 52 Hike Challenge (www.52hikechallenge.com), I crunched down the trail, taking the first steps on a yearlong journey through Michigan’s outdoors. That holiday trek kicked off a series of 52 day-hikes where I would experience frozen forests, rolling coastal dunes, wildflower-filled fields and lush wetlands in different seasons throughout the year.

I’ve always loved watching nature, ever since I could point a tiny finger at my grandparents’ bird feeder, squealing, “chicken-dee! chicken-dee!” at the visiting black-capped chickadees.

Committing to the challenge of intentional, weekly hikes helped me encounter the outdoors in a new way. With close and frequent observation, I perceived the changing of nature’s details in each season, week and even time of day. 

Starting in the austere winter landscape, monochrome and overcast, my first hikes took me through snow-flocked trees and along icy trails.

One of my early adventures sent me sliding down a steep, slippery bridge, nearly bowling over my hiking partner on the other side (I express-ordered traction cleats as soon as I got home).

Winter sunsets arrived early and fast, like a door slamming shut. When I managed to sneak in short hikes after work, I found myself hustling back to the trailhead, racing the sun retreating below the horizon. 

Spring was heralded by the emergence of fantastical-looking skunk cabbages – wetland plants that make their own heat – blazing up through lingering crusts of snow. May-apple blooms, jack-in-the-pulpits and songbirds soon followed, filling the quiet woods with new life and energy. 

With more miles on my boots and a floppy hat swapped for insulating fleece, the summer season introduced a leafier landscape and soaring temperatures.

I paused often under the scorching sun to collect wild black raspberries that dyed my hands purple (and then fled when clouds of hungry mosquitos caught up with me). 

I completed a memorable autumn hike in October with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Outdoor Skills Academy. After a morning of archery practice, local mushroom experts led participants on a group hike to peer into the brush for edible woodland treasures. We learned to spot cinnabar-red chanterelles, dusky trumpet mushrooms and craggy-textured chaga in the damp, musky-smelling autumn woods.  

My adventures took me to local parks managed by city, county, township or nonprofit organizations and to the 4.6 million acres of parks, forests and recreation areas the DNR manages; all of them on public lands open for everyone to explore and enjoy.

Finding a trail to explore each week reinforced how important it is to have nearby access to the outdoors. 

Public lands are not just important for hikers, snowshoers, mountain bikers or other recreational users like me – they’re also important for wildlife, and for healthy waters that people, animals and plants all need. Forests clean the water that ends up in our homes, starting as underground springs or a rush of snowmelt and filtering through wetlands, eventually traveling to rivers, streams and lakes.

Some of the highlights of my hikes were moments where I got to see wildlife up close. Walking with quiet footsteps, I saw white-tailed does shoving each other for a choice bite of grass, painted turtles scuttling across the trail and a fierce red-tailed hawk snatching a meal in open grassland and heard the rattling bugles of sandhill cranes before seeing their broad wings as they swooped low above me.

Through the year, I didn’t keep up with the hike challenge just because I wanted to finish. I also kept moving because it made me feel great.

After a year of day hikes, I got better at navigating, incorporated more outdoor activity into my life and enjoyed the peace and mental health benefits of being in the outdoors. 

Now, within minutes of leaving sight of the trailhead, I feel a sense of ease. I’m also more comfortable going out in cold weather or on drizzly days when I might have stayed inside before.

For anyone just getting into hiking, there are a few practical things to think about before heading outside. Always check the trail map and conditions ahead of time, and let a trusted friend know where you’re going if you’ll be alone, and when you intend to be back. 

The gear you bring doesn’t have to be fancy, but it’s important to carry outdoor essentials to be prepared for a surprise rainstorm, the sun going down before you’re back to the trailhead (looking at you, December hikes!) or scrapes and stings.

Even for short hike, I always carry a whistle, water, small first aid kit, flashlight, hat, packable raincoat and snack. In winter, wearing layers and water-resistant gear keeps me warm and dry. In summer, bug-spray, sunscreen and a brimmed hat ward off sunburn and pests. A fire starter is also a good thing to carry, along with a compass and a map.

As you begin thinking about 2022 goals, how do you plan to experience Michigan’s outdoors? You might get started by joining the national First Day Hikes (https://www.stateparks.org/special-programs/first-day-hikes/) event on Jan. 1, or find other fun ways to motivate yourself to get outside throughout the seasons.

If you’d like to tackle the official 52 Hike Challenge, there are online resources that provide motivation, community support and a fun completion patch. 

I’m looking forward to a 2022 full of rewarding hikes, scenic adventures and new wild places to explore across Michigan’s public lands.

I hope you’ll join me! 

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Vision for the Future

Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller

An exciting year awaits for aiding plant and animal nature niches. Every year is a new beginning with hopes for keeping New Year’s resolutions. Most are not kept. Our nature niche can be to enhance living conditions for yourself and others with whom we share “creation care.” Species have unique responsibilities that they know nothing about. They simply go about their essential work without a conscious plan.

We are different. Our abilities allow making decisions to redirect the future toward a sustainable economic, social, and environmentally healthy planet. Many people go about living without a creation care vision as a core value for present and future life. I heard it said, many of us have something the “materially rich” do not have. We have “enough.” Living conservatively within our means is an essential attribute to support the greatest variety of species for abundant biodiversity. 

One aspect I have commented on occasionally is species overabundance. Recently, I described the harmful effects of the oak wilt fungus and emerald ash borer beetles that have caused damage in ecosystems. Any species that becomes excessively abundant destroys conditions for healthy habitats and impairs a rich future. 

I will not belabor the point, but humans have become too abundant and are damaging prospects for a healthy future for our own and coming generations and for other species. There are acceptable and unacceptable methods for limiting our abundance. A good way to bring our population into balance with resource availability is to have no more than two children and wait to start a family until we are about 30 years old. This can reduce our population by about 40 percent in a century. That is a relatively quick fix.

Another important action in the new year is to slow habitat loss by sharing small or large yards with other species. Research shows there has been a continuous wild species decline in population numbers during the past century as well as massive species extinctions. The rate of decline is accelerating. Studies usually do not indicate the role of human population abundance in the discussion, because it is an unsavory “hot” point.

Science magazine reported an average butterfly population decline of 1.6 percent per year over 40 years. Other insect mass has declined by 2.5% per year with bird populations declining by 29 percent in 50 years. The Christmas bird counts are the longest existing community science program documenting bird populations. Bird counts are fun and allow people to learn about species sharing habitats. The backyard bird count is another easy activity done without leaving home. 

Previously, I shared how snowplows were used to remove mayflies on bridges that caused slippery roads when my mother was a child in the 1920s. Reduced aquatic insect populations impacts fish abundance, stream health, lowers water quality, and nutrient recycling. More nutrient runoff increases pollution and bacterial growth.

The vision we take for future decades can reverse the trend of species loss and wild population declines while enriching living conditions, food, and enjoyment for our own species. Whether people are narrowly human-focused or creation care-focused, both have a common goal for a sustainable planet. 

Plan to reduce sterile lawn habitat by allowing native plant species to populate portions of your home site. This is among the best methods for creation care. Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

You are the hope for the future. It requires vision to allow portions of your yard to live wild and full of abundant life. Instead of a New Year’s resolution to save the planet, allow species adapted to the local environment to thrive in your yard. Enhance life by encouraging native species. Do not make it harder than necessary. Allow native species to enchant your family’s life with beauty, joy, and health and pass on a future vision for those coming after us. 

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

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Winter recreation safety tips for outdoor adventurers

As many people start venturing outside for the holiday break, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources reminds everyone to consider seasonal safety tips before enjoying their favorite winter activities.

“People often get caught up in the excitement of the moment and overlook general winter safety,” said Lt. Tom Wanless, with the DNR Law Enforcement Division’s Recreational Safety, Enforcement and Safety Section. “We want to send out a beginning of the season reminder to please keep safety in mind this winter. Dress for the weather, check the forecast before you go out and, if you’re snowmobiling, please ride sober and at a safe speed.”

Regardless of your favorite winter activity, prepare before you leave the house by checking, dressing and packing for the weather. That means:

  • Wear light layers that can easily be added or removed. It is possible to overheat even during the winter.
  • Carry the appropriate equipment for your activity, such as a flashlight, rope, ice picks or ice claws.
  • Have spare equipment available in case something breaks.
  • Stay hydrated and fueled. Bring water and snacks.
  • Bring a buddy.
  • Inform others about where you will be and how long you plan to be gone and schedule check-in times.
  • Carry a two-way communication device that receives service in remote areas.
  • Be aware of your health. If you’re not feeling well, don’t go out.

In Michigan, all snowmobile operators between ages 12 and 16 are required to obtain a Michigan-approved snowmobile safety certificate to operate without a legal guardian or to cross a highway or street. Earn your snowmobile safety certificate or purchase a trail permit online at Michigan.gov/Snowmobiling.

The DNR’s Ride Right snowmobile safety campaign emphasizes the importance of riding sober, at a safe speed and on the right side of the trail. Speed is the main factor in fatal and serious injury snowmobile accidents. There were 12 fatal accidents during the 2020-21 snowmobile season.

If you plan to plan to be around ice, always use extreme caution, as there is no reliable way to test ice thickness.

For more ice safety tips, including what to do if you fall through the ice, go to Michigan.gov/IceSafety.

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DNR rescue workers recover elk carcasses from private lake in Otsego County

Michigan elk. Photo from DNR website.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers and ice rescue personnel clad in dry suits worked Tuesday, December 14, to try to recover a dozen elk that died that same day after falling through the ice of a private lake in Otsego County.

“This is a very tragic and unfortunate event,” said DNR Director Dan Eichinger. “Elk are an important species in Michigan’s successful conservation history. We are indebted to the conservation officers and hunting guides who tried to help in responding to this incident Tuesday afternoon.”

In all, the carcasses of three spike bull elk, five cows and three calves were recovered from the lake today. The remaining elk carcass was not found. The ice thickness measured 2 inches where the elk fell through, with the water about 50 feet deep.

The incident began at about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday when conservation officers were called by an elk-hunting guide who reported that 10-12 elk had fallen through the ice on Crapo Lake, which is a 92-acre lake located about 20 miles northeast of Grayling.

The guide said he, another guide and their hunting party had come to the lake’s private hunting property and sighted the elk about 100 yards from a main road. The hunters had been granted permission to be on the property.

“When the hunters arrived, they saw the elk headed down a slope and onto the ice, traveling approximately 75 to 100 yards out onto the ice,” said Sgt. Mark Depew of the DNR Law Enforcement Division. “The animals grouped up and broke through the ice.”

Conservation officers arrived about 30 minutes after receiving the call. They found the two hunting guides who reported the incident in a rowboat, attempting to cut an escape path through the ice for the elk with a chainsaw.

“The ice was approximately 5 to 6 inches thick, and the two were making almost no progress,” Depew said. “For the safety of the guides, conservation officers ordered them off the ice to prevent another tragedy. Given the weight of the animals and the relatively thin ice, there were no safe options available for saving or recovering the elk alive.”

DNR Wildlife Division Chief Jared Duquette said there are anecdotal reports from other states of similar incidents occurring with elk. Elk are animals of open woodlands and varied elevations, typically weighing between 350 and 900 pounds.

Lt. Jim Gorno of the DNR Law Enforcement Division said there are instances reported each winter of deer, moose or dogs falling through the ice of lakes and streams.

In some cases, well-intentioned people have endangered their own lives in attempts to try to save these animals, sometimes with fatal results.

“We remind people that no ice is safe ice,” Gorno said. “Putting yourself in danger of drowning is not an acceptable risk.”

DNR Law Enforcement Division Chief Gary Hagler said conservation officers are investigating the incident.

“We’re looking into it to make sure no game hunting violations of any kind occurred,” Hagler said.

DNR and Otsego County EMS ice rescue team personnel recovered the elk carcasses from the lake.

‘Boats, cables, winches, ropes and ladders were utilized in the recovery effort,” Gorno said. “All the elk will be processed by local butchers and processors and the meat donated to local charities and food banks for distribution.”

Standard Provision of Alpena will be doing the processing, which will be paid for by Safari Club International and Hunters Harvest.

Duquette said the loss of the elk will not significantly reduce the elk herd in the northern Lower Peninsula. He does not expect the loss to affect elk-hunting quotas for next year.

Elk were reintroduced to Michigan in 1918 after native elk disappeared due to habitat loss and unregulated hunting. Today’s healthy and abundant elk population is found in the northeastern Lower Peninsula. Approximately 1,000 elk are estimated to be in Michigan’s elk range, which includes the Pigeon River Country State Forest.

The elk herd today is closely monitored, and carefully regulated elk hunts occur each fall with two hunt periods: Hunt Period 1 in August/September and Hunt Period 2 in December. During the hunt this fall, 73 elk were taken by hunters.

Find out more about Michigan’s elk herd at Michigan.gov/Elk.

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Wonder of it all

Ranger Steve

By Ranger Steve Mueller

A joy of the season is knowing I share the wonder for the world around us. It is a great pleasure that readers find it worth their time and discover topics of interest. One friend asked how I come up with ideas? The natural world has an endless magnificence awaiting discovery. That is the wonder of it all.

The challenge is to interpret nature niche information in a manner that connects reader experiences and encourages meaningful interactions with things wild and natural. It is easy to walk by the most amazing occurrences and never notice. I do it daily. When walking through the woods, my mind drifts to details for completing a successful day of life. Instead, I should concentrate on the surrounding wonders. 

Food, warmth, and rest are required. As important are the wonders that abound that will be missed when we do not apply effort to enjoy. I received letters of support and appreciation for sharing in my article “Time for Thanksgiving.” My attempt is to reveal myself openly. We each have joy and sadness. When we bring a little joy into the world for others, we are successful. 

I thank you for giving me reason to continue. The shape and texture of a tree’s buds might seem trivial, but it is of vital importance for successful emergence of new spring growth. Bird songs could simply be music to our ears, but they are life and death territory maintenance for rearing a new fledgling generation. Pollinating insects are fascinating to watch at garden blooms, but without them plant reproduction would fail. 

During the holiday season, go beyond the wonder of it all. I started a new clinical trial treatment for cancer, but oncologists have mostly exhausted options. After one week of treatment, my declining health prevented the next treatment. Now we wait to see if we can proceed to the following week. Such is life but I will keep enjoying the wonder as long as possible. 

I commented in the Thanksgiving Day article that it might be difficult to survive year 2022. I am thankful that I have successfully survived almost 24 years since diagnosis. What a wonderful, unexpected joy it has been. Now at 71, I seem young, but my body says otherwise. Some people get old young and others live long and get old old. 

During my journey exploring nature, I have lived fully. My library has slowly expanded and enriched my life. It is now time to pass on volumes to others wishing to sit fireside and learn the wonders held between book covers. I posted notice to several organizations that my mortal time is ending, and I want to pass on materials to those who will find them useful. Many have already been requested. Please consider a visit to Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary to find treasures on my bookshelves. Donations to perpetuate the sanctuary will be appreciated. 

I acquired several copies of Michigan Butterflies and Skippers that I give to volunteer helpers. Volunteers are always appreciated for work I can no longer do, and the book is given as a thank you. It will be nice to pass on more books. People can call and stop by to get one without volunteering for a bargain donation of $20. 

Some of my library is ready to be given now but some books will be held while I am still able to use them. It is a joy for me pass on items with the knowledge that they will be used and appreciated. 

Wonder comes through eyes, ears, nose, taste, and touch. When entering the brain, it becomes a matter of heart. Until it becomes a matter of the heart, it is of little value. Time outdoors is essential, and books aid successful exploration. Take time to appreciate the wonder of it all. 

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

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Purple Heart, Lifesaving Awards presented to conservation officers and courageous civilians

Left to right: Asst. Chief Dave Shaw, DNR Law Enforcement Division, Conservation Officer Josiah Killingbeck, Richard Olds, Corey Miller, Capt. Jen Wolf, DNR Law Enforcement Division.

Two Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers and two civilians were presented with awards at last week Thursday’s meeting of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission, which took place at the Michigan Library and Historical Center in Lansing.

Conservation Officer Josiah Killingbeck, Purple Heart; Corey Miller and Richard Olds, Lifesaving Awards

The DNR Law Enforcement Division honored Conservation Officer Josiah Killingbeck with a Purple Heart, in recognition of what Killingbeck endured during an assault by a suspect whom he was transporting to the Lake County Jail in Baldwin on March 20.

While being attacked, Killingbeck stopped his DNR patrol truck on the side of the road. Two men from Reed City, Corey Miller, 49, and Richard Olds, 48, were traveling together in a vehicle when they observed the DNR patrol truck and the commotion occurring inside.

“Officer Killingbeck, Corey Miller and Richard Olds represent the best of us,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “All three of these men are worthy of recognition for their actions. Officer Killingbeck is a dedicated public servant who serves our state and stewards our natural resources admirably, and Mr. Miller and Mr. Olds stepped up and selflessly put themselves in harm’s way to help a fellow Michigander. I am grateful to all three of them, and I encourage Michiganders who are interested in protecting our state’s fish and wildlife, and pristine parks, forests, lakes and trails to pursue a career in the Department of Natural Resources.”

Miller and Olds approached the patrol truck and were able to get the suspect off Killingbeck and onto the side of the road, where they waited for additional law enforcement to arrive.

“It’s my honor to award Conservation Officer Killingbeck with a Purple Heart, and Lifesaving Awards to the two men who were in the right place at the right time, and selflessly put themselves in harm’s way to help an officer,” said Dave Shaw, acting assistant chief, DNR Law Enforcement Division. “The department expresses deep and sincere gratitude to Mr. Miller and Mr. Olds in what could have been a worse situation.”

Shaw added that Killingbeck is a strong officer who continues to make the DNR proud by protecting Michigan’s natural resources and serving his community with a high level of professionalism.

The assailant, Devinci Osiris Dumas, 22, of Grand Rapids, is currently imprisoned at the Michigan Department of Corrections Kinross Correctional Facility, for the following two felony charges:

Assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder or by strangulation; serving five to 15 years. And assaulting, resisting, obstructing, causing injury to a police officer; serving four to six years.

Conservation Officer Tyler Sabuda, Lifesaving Award

Left to right: Asst. Chief Dave Shaw, DNR Law Enforcement Division, Conservation Officer Tyler Sabuda, Capt. Jen Wolf, DNR Law Enforcement Division.

Conservation Officer Tyler Sabuda, Iosco County, was presented with a lifesaving award after aiding a 61-year-old Chesterfield man, suspected of having a stroke, who was stranded alone in a remote hunting cabin for nearly 48 hours.

Monday, Oct. 4, Conservation Officer Stephen Butzin, Delta County, was contacted by his grandfather, Timothy Butzin, who has a hunting cabin in Iosco County. Timothy reported that his neighbor’s wife was concerned because her husband went duck hunting at their own cabin two days earlier and hadn’t returned home or responded to communication.

Timothy Butzin told CO Butzin that his neighbor’s cabin was locked, a vehicle was in the driveway and nobody answered the door, and he was concerned that his neighbor may be stranded in the woods.

CO Butzin communicated the information to off-duty Sabuda, who contacted Iosco County Central Dispatch to request they dispatch an active law enforcement officer to check the cabin. After learning nobody could check the cabin within a reasonable time frame, Sabuda activated into service and went to the cabin himself. While en route, Sabuda alerted Michigan State Police, who were arranging for a police dog’s presence at the cabin.

Sabuda went to Timothy’s cabin, and Timothy took Sabuda via off-road vehicle through the narrow trail to his neighbor’s cabin. Sabuda checked the parked vehicle and property and could not find evidence of wrongdoing.

Announcing himself as a Michigan DNR conservation officer, Sabuda knocked on the door several times, heard a quiet noise, but nobody answered the door. Due to the elevated cabin, Sabuda stood on the ORV to see inside through the windows but still couldn’t see well enough inside. He knocked on the door, asked if anyone was injured or needed help, and again heard the quiet, rhythmic noise.

Sabuda contacted dispatch via radio to request medical assistance and forced entry into the cabin, locating an unresponsive man, not breathing, lying on the floor. The noise Sabuda heard through the door was the man attempting to breathe.

Sabuda rolled the man to his side and cleared his airway using a towel, then started performing sternum rubs to the man’s chest, which activated the man’s breathing. Sabuda retrieved his automated external defibrillator from his patrol vehicle in case the sternum rubs stopped working, while instructing Timothy to meet and guide EMS from the road.

Sabuda performed sternum rubs until EMS arrived and transported the man to a hospital in Saginaw, where doctors suspect he may have suffered a stroke.

“Conservation Officer Tyler Sabuda dropped everything he was doing during his personal time and went above and beyond to ensure this individual’s well-being,” said Dave Shaw, acting assistant chief, DNR Law Enforcement Division.

Hiring for 2022 conservation officer academy

Earlier this month the DNR announced that it will soon begin the hiring process for a 2022 conservation officer academy. Interested candidates should start the application process now by signing up for an upcoming Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards physical fitness test and contacting a recruiter. Local recruiters are available to help prepare serious candidates for the process.

Michigan conservation officers are fully commissioned law enforcement officers who protect natural resources, ensure recreational safety and protect residents by providing general law enforcement duties and lifesaving operations in the communities they serve. Due to the nature of their job, these officers often work with federal, state and local law enforcement officers to ensure public safety. Learn more at Michigan.gov/ConservationOfficers.

Posted in OutdoorsComments Off on Purple Heart, Lifesaving Awards presented to conservation officers and courageous civilians

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