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New species and Ody Brook mission, Part 5:

New species and Ody Brook mission, Part 5:
Ranger Steve’s new species “Brilliant Virgin Tiger Moth”, Grammia brillians, discovered in Southern Utah. Photo from the Utah Lepidopterists website.

By Ranger Steve Mueller

With Howard Christensen Nature Center (HCNC) closing in 2005, opportunities allowed me to contribute in my own small way. My research continued at Bryce Canyon National Park on moths that summer. 

I discovered a new species of moth that became named Grammia brillians. Karen and I spoke personal wedding vows on Aug. 10, 1977 by Water Canyon Falls and our official wedding was on Sept. 10, 1977. Twenty-three years later I discovered the new species at the site in August 2005. A Lepidopterists said I am likely the only person on Earth to discover a new species at the site where I previously spoke wedding vows. Satisfying studies continued. Only a couple dozen moth species were scientifically documented for Bryce Canyon when my research began; 301 species were collected. Including butterflies, nearly 400 species are now documented.

Many research specimens are placed in museums at Smithsonian, Carnegie, Michigan State U, Milwaukee Public, Canada National in Ottawa, Bemidji State U, Gillette at Colorado State U, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Bean at Brigham Young U, and Colorado Plateau Museum of Arthropod Biodiversity at Northern Arizona U. I am a research associate at NAU. I stuffed many birds and mammals for the Bryce Canyon natural history collection and for HCNC. 1808 birds and mammals are listed for HCNC on my US Fish and Wildlife and MI DNR permits. Many were mounted by Harold Moody and Frank Rackett.

Before returning from volunteer work at Bryce, I received a phone call and was offered the position as director for the Wittenbach/Wege Center in Lowell. I worked there for three years before being disabled with multiple myeloma cancer. I could no longer perform duties to a level I expected for myself, so I retired. Two bone marrow transplants were followed by a clinical trial that worked for five years, and most recently my treatment is beginning to fail. A new clinical trial holds hope for extended life and functionality.

In 1979 we purchased seven acres where we live and named it after my best dog. During the 40 years we lived here, we purchased additional acreage to expand Ody Brook to 61 acres. Though it is our private property and registered with the county as Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, we allow people to visit and explore. It is not a nature center but we offer some biodiversity guided field trips. For guided nature programs most people are referred to places like HCNC. Ody Brook is also listed on the web as an ebird “hotspot” with 135 species. 

Special walks and training for groups can be arranged. Michigan Botanical Club, Audubon, Wild Ones, West Michigan Butterfly Association and others come repeatedly for events. Programs help fund our mission of biodiversity enhancement, boardwalk construction, upland trail maintenance and interpretive signage. Google Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary. We welcome people and ask they e-mail or call to leave a message so we know when they are coming. Donations are accepted and encouraged but not required. 

Work at Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary provides habitat support for plants and wildlife. Species are documented with continuing effort. Our mission of biodiversity enhancement is to establish and maintain the greatest variety of habitats with a goal of supporting as many native species as possible. I am thrilled each time a new species is documented. I view it as a creation care responsibility to help species thrive.

I continue as regional editor for the North American Butterfly Association butterfly counts. A Michigan Butterfly Network weekly butterfly survey is conducted at Ody Brook during field season. It has become more difficult for me to walk the survey route. Anyone desiring to learn butterflies and survey, please contact me.

Past international projects were education training with Program for Belize and Tree Amigos in Costa Rica. In Costa Rica students called me Guardabosque Esteban.

Many natural history adventure pilgrimage stories from my adventures into the wild are omitted. Some might be shared when groups invite me to present programs. I will e-mail a program brochure to those interested.

Part 6 “Contentment and Happiness” next week. Link to parts 1-4 at: http://cedarspringspost.com/category/outdoors/ranger-steves-nature-niche/

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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