Read on to learn about the great sessions and presenters that we will be hosting at The Stewardship Network Conference 2020! Below you will find our current list of sessions, divided into several categories and alphabetized within each category. Look out for our interactive agenda with session times, rooms, photos, and more coming soon!
Assessment of Effective Management Strategies for Japanese Knotweed
Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) is an invasive species in Europe and North America; associated with increased soil erosion, loss of native plant diversity, and accelerated destruction of riverbanks. In Nova Scotia, there is growing interest in the management of Japanese knotweed, due to its negative impacts, and the ability of the species to occupy large areas. Between 2016 and 2018, experimentation evaluated: (i) integration of cutting and herbicide application, (ii) injections compared to spot applications of herbicides, and (iii) impact seasonal timing of herbicide application on knotweed stem regeneration. (i) Knotweed stem density was reduced to a similar degree regardless of if cutting was performed prior to herbicide application. (ii) Injections were not significantly different from spot sprays, both reduced knotweed stem density, but required two applications. (iii) Peak height and fall applications were both effective, group 4 herbicides performed best in the fall.
Tyler Jollimore, Dalhousie University
Invasive Species Treatment Prioritization Model
Invasive plant infestations are projected to rapidly increase as the landscape continues to be fragmented and the climate changes. The rate of spread often outpaces managers’ ability to effectively detect and control infestations. Land stewards need tools that can match the rapid pace and scale of invasive infestations and help prioritize control efforts in the most eco-logically important areas. Given that funding for treatment is finite, it is imperative that proposed control be informed by the best available ecological information. Michigan Natural Features Inventory is working with the Wildlife Division of the DNR to develop an invasive species treatment prioritization model for state lands. This presentation provides a summary of our progress to date developing a weighted geographic overlay model, details our methods, presents our results, and discusses model limitations and next steps to improve the modeling process and foster application of the model by resource practitioners.
Joshua Cohen and Clay Wilton, Michigan Natural Features Inventory
Aspects of Woody Plant Invasion in a Southeast Michigan Forest
Invasive woody plants are a growing problem at Adrian College’s Walden West reserve. This talk addresses morphological and physiological differences between native and invasive species at the site, the soil properties associated with increased abundance of invasive and native species, and compares functional and phylogenetic signal of native and invasive communities for the site with two other Michigan forests. This work shows that invasive species have higher stomatal density, increased specific leaf area, often higher leaf nitrogen levels and lower leaf dry matter content, relative to native species. Light responsive plasticity in these traits is not consistent among invasive species, but often differs from observed patterns in native species. Native shrubs are more specialized on particular soil types, while invasives appear to be generalists. These results may help us to better understand future invasions and work to remediate existing problems.
Jeffrey Lake, Paige Cubberly, Alivia Rebeck, Mahala Lorenzo, Molly Beck, Mara Eason, and Alana Pastula, Adrian College
Incorporating participatory science into an adaptive management approach to invasive species management
Invasive species are a widespread problem and significant resources are directed at controlling them. Frequently, control efforts are implemented independently and lack coordination on a larger scale. These disjointed efforts can lead to variable treatment outcomes and limited landscape-wide progress. To maximize management efforts targeting invasive Phragmites across the Great Lakes Basin, the Great Lakes Phragmites Collaborative launched the Phragmites Adaptive Management Framework (PAMF). This unique program combines participatory science with adaptive management, allowing mangers at all levels to contribute to and benefit from Phragmites management data generated basin-wide. PAMF applies a systematic approach to learning from management actions to reduce uncertainty of management outcomes. This presentation will cover the benefits of an adaptive management approach that incorporates participatory learning and share lessons learned throughout PAMF’s development and implementation.
Samantha Tank, Great Lakes Commission
Clinton Moore and Christine Dumoulin, Georgia Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, University of Georgia
Daniel D. Engel, Lynxnet, LLC contractor in support of USGS
Elaine Ferrier and Erika Jensen, Great Lakes Commission
Kurt P. Kowalski, USGS – Great Lakes Science Center
Collaborative Management of a New Invasive Species: Managing Stiltgrass in Southeast Michigan
In 2017, stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) was documented for the first time in Michigan. The dedicated efforts of local and state stewardship agencies, along with private landowners, brought this infestation under control, containing it within a small neighborhood. But in June 2018, a much larger infestation of stiltgrass was discovered just a few miles away, covering over 35 acres across 60 private and public properties. The stewardship community organized into the Stiltgrass Working Group to pool their resources and treat it– but despite their best efforts, that acreage increased again this year. What do you do in the face of such an overwhelming escalation? Learn how the Stiltgrass Working Group is continuing their multipartner collaboration, the challenges they faced managing an annual invasive on both public and private property, and some of the lessons they learned from this year’s effort.
Alice Elliott, Stiltgrass Working Group
Continuing the Glyphosate Conversation – Invasive Species and IPM
There is continued concern from the public about the use of glyphosate on the land, to the point that some folks stop listening when one even mentions the “G” word. We don’t know of another control method that is as effective as glyphosate, but one day, glyphosate may very well no longer be an option as a management technique. As ecological stewards, it’s imperative that we keep looking for alternatives and talking about what we are finding. To set the framework for this discussion, we will dive into the meaning of Integrated Pest Management and look at a case study of how the City of Ann Arbor Natural Preservation and the Washtenaw Stiltgrass Working Group are using IPM to control a new invader, stiltgrass, in the greater Ann Arbor area. Please bring your expertise, anecdotes, and questions to the conversation.
Michael Hahn, City of Ann Arbor Natural Areas Preservation
Protecting a Resource at Risk: Control techniques for Hemlock Woolly Adelgid in Michigan
Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Division has been successfully managing Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) since 2017 in some of Michigan’s most iconic parks along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Following an update of the status of the infestation and program goals, attendees will learn about the different control techniques applied, including pros and cons of each and the challenges associated with protecting hemlock in Michigan’s critical dunes.
Heidi Frei, Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Drill and Fill, Hack and Squirt, Basal Spray, Tree Girdling, and Brush Hogging: What Works and What Doesn’t in Woody Invasive Plant Control
Did you know you don’t need herbicide to effectively treat Norway Maple? Are you looking to refine your cut-stump herbicide wand? I’d like to share what I’ve learned in 12 years controlling invasive plants and hear from my fellow invasive-plant practitioners about their best practices. We’ll explore the tools that have worked and the effective techniques to control Oriental bittersweet, Norway maple, buckthorn, black locust, and more. Check out a new design for a cut-stump herbicide wand.
Steven Parrish, University of Michigan Botanical Gardens and Arboretum
Analysis of impact of Emerald Ash Borer on an Indiana on old-growth forest using GIS and aerial imagery
Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus plannipennis) (EAB) invaded east central Indiana in 2011. Ginn Woods, the largest and one of the last remaining old-growth forests in Indiana, presented an opportunity to study the long-term effects of EAB on forest community structure and species composition. In summer 2012, canopy trees were mapped and a geographic database was developed before large numbers of ash trees were infested. In summer 2018, aerial imagery was collected to identify locations of canopy trees that died between 2012 and 2018. In summer 2019, the 2012 tree map will be tested to confirm observations from 2018 aerial images. An assessment of mortality rates for ash and other canopy species of interest will be presented along with the updated tree map.
John Taylor, Ball State University Field Station
River & Wetland Projects
Muddy Creek Bay–Challenges Associated with Large Scale Great Lakes Coastal Wetland Restoration
Muddy Creek Bay is an approximately 4 square mile lacustrine estuary within Sandusky Bay, connecting the Sandusky River to Lake Erie. The bay has experienced extensive loss of wetlands due to historic development around the bay and upstream in the watershed. GEI Consultants worked with The Nature Conservancy to develop design concepts to rebuild wetlands throughout the bay through wave attenuation, passive sediment accretion, and active sand placement. Site analysis included sediment sampling, water quality sampling, wave analysis, 2-dimensional hydrologic modeling, and ecological sampling of existing and reference ecosystems. Existing conditions were compared to reference, historical, and proposed future conditions to determine the feasibility for restoration. This presentation will discuss the unique challenges associated with large scale restoration of Great Lakes coastal wetlands.
Brian Majka, GEI Consultants
Matt Kovach, The Nature Conservancy
Oasis under the Dome – Restoration of the Red Cedar River at Michigan State University
The Red Cedar River runs for three miles through the Michigan State University (MSU) campus and is a living laboratory and place of relaxation to students, faculty, staff, and surrounding communities. But less obvious is how threatened this iconic river is by bank erosion and stormwater inputs. The natural process of erosion slowly impacts many of the riverbanks on campus, and has accelerated because the region’s urbanization has increased in recent decades. The MSU Infrastructure Planning and Facilities group is leading the process of assessing and restoring the river where it passes through campus. This presentation will describe both completed and proposed restoration efforts along the river and impacts to the whole watershed. Participants will be invited to visit a restoration project near Spartan Stadium.
Brian Majka, GEI Consultants
Yun Cao, Michigan State University
Wetland Mitigation Banking: Successes and Challenges
The Wetland Mitigation Banking Program in Michigan offers an alternative to the widely unsuccessful site specific (permittee responsible) wetland mitigation program. Niswander Environmental has become the leading private wetland mitigation banking company in Michigan and has been constructing wetland mitigation banks for over 12 years and currently monitors over 900 acres of wetland mitigation bank credits. We will discuss the process of wetland mitigation bank site selection, design, construction, planting, and the successes and challenges that we have faced as the sites have progressed over the years. In addition, we will give insight to how we carefully balance establishing a native plant community with the stringent state-required hydrologic regime and many of the challenges that are faced developing forested and scrub shrub wetland types in different hydric soil types.
Tyler Smith and Elizabeth Berghoff, Niswander Environmental
The Restoration of the Clinton River Watershed
The Clinton River Watershed Council is heavily involved in bioengineered restoration solutions and citizen-led water quality monitoring on all scales within their AOC, with the intent to improve the ecological integrity of this degraded watershed. With the same intent, Cardno leads many of these projects, including the restoration of the Clinton River mouth, and is also heavily involved in the assessment and restoration of privately owned streams and lakes. Join us to learn more about the restoration of the Clinton River Watershed, considerations on bioengineering design and implementation, and lessons learned on large and small scale restoration efforts in Michigan.
Patrick Duffy and Robin Burke, Cardno
Eric Deising, Clinton River Watershed Council
Can the Climate Crisis exist in a Public Elementary School
Our children will inherit the ongoing and projected problems associated with the ecological degradation caused by unchecked consumerism. Yet, there is a clear lack of initiative to provide the kind of education that would inform children of the science, causes, and stakes of Climate Change, and even inspire them toward possible solutions. This presentation and discussion will consider the curricular, political, and sociological factors that may be holding back concerted efforts to include Climate Crisis issues in our public schools, and whether such barriers might be overcome. We will also explore some of the regional grassroots and national non-profit efforts to incorporate Climate Education into school curriculums, including my own efforts as an East Lansing Elementary School librarian.
Helping a Forest Adapt to Climate Change Through Assisted Migration
Climate change poses new challenges and opportunities for natural resource management agencies, including Native American Tribes. When climate changes occurred in precolonial times, tribes could migrate along with the culturally significant species they depended on. Today tribes are frequently tied to particular areas of land (e.g. reservations). With many culturally significant species in Michigan threatened by climate change, the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians is taking a proactive approach with one of their forests in the northern lower peninsula. Since 2016 they have been planting native trees and shrubs, using species and/or genetic stock from warmer climate zones. Overall survival of planted trees and shrubs has been high (80-90%), though there is substantial variation among species. Tree establishment methods and lessons learned will be discussed.
Noah Jansen, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indian
Resident Engaged Open Space and a Climate Resilient Future in Detroit
Eastside Community Network (ECN) has led planning around open space for a decade through the Lower Eastside Action Plan (LEAP) process. Residents and technical experts came together to form strategies for improving the large amount of vacant land left behind by demolitions, with green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) as one such strategy. The Hamilton Rainscape Learning Lab, which emerged from those plans, completed construction in June 2019 and now serves as an outdoor classroom to teach students and the community about stormwater, native plants, and other topics. The process for creating that space highlights the importance of community engagement in developing these projects. But there remains tremendous need for similarly impactful projects across Detroit and other urban landscapes. Moving forward, ECN looks to assemble community and technical experts to build policies that promote more equitable, healthier neighborhoods in preparation for the encroaching threats of climate change.
Richard Ackerman, Eastside Community Network
OPTIMIZING YOUR LAND’S RELATIONSHIP TO WATER: A 3-PART WORKSHOP SERIES
Where do you begin with transitioning degraded lands into sustainable ecological systems? It all starts with water. Learn from certified permaculture designer and author of the book, Restoration Agriculture, Mark Shepard, about his NRCS-compatible adaptations to keyline design and practical ways for you to apply them to your land. This 3-part series will expand your understanding of how water behaves within landscapes, teach you terminology to identify the contours on your land as well as to communicate these water management concepts more clearly and effectively between government agency officials and farmers.
Mark Shepard, Restoration Agriculture Development
- Session 1: Mark will go beyond simply discussing erosion control and into how these water management systems function to improve the local watershed, soil quality, biodiversity, crop health and finances, thereby speeding the healing of the entire landscape as a whole.
- Session 2: Mark will dive into the water management system principles, explain the terminology and take you through strategies for which to help you identify key features on your land.
- Session 3: Mark will discuss the implementation and ongoing care one may expect with water management systems. Mark will also equip you with strategies for for communicating to other farmers, family or the local NRCS office about your plans for your own water management system.
Growing-season vs Dormant-season prescribed fire: implications for prairie management
Fire seasonality is thought to influence plant species distribution and abundance in native and constructed prairies. A 40 acre constructed prairie with heavy stands of native warm-season grasses has been burned every-other-year, exclusively in either the growing-season or in the dormant-season since 2013. In late July 2019 species cover was recorded for 96 2x2m plots to compare cover between growing-season and dormant-season burn areas. Statistical analysis and anecdotal observations will be presented, along with management plans for coming years.
John Taylor, Ball State University Field Station
Restoration Agriculture Tree & Shrub Nursery: Models For Future Success
This presentation will provide a brief update on Brines Farm’s continuing understanding and integration of restoration agriculture techniques; describe our experiences over the last few years beginning a State of Michigan licensed and inspected tree & shrub nursery; and open up for discussion among attendees regarding their experiences, the need for other local native plant nurseries across the region, and models that might lead to that outcome. Are there cooperative or other models that might work for local genotype seed saving and gathering, seed starting, plant propogation and beyond? Brines Farm expanded to 80 acres of historical farmland in 2012. Previous use of the land had abused the soil and sped water off site. We began trying keyline techniques to keep water on site longer, and we began to plant perennials. With five seasons of thousands of plantings done, we decided it was time to start our own nursery but that was easier said than done.
Shannon Brines, Brines Farm LLC
Native landscapes over septic fields
This presentation describes how to safely replace lawn grasses with native plants and grasses that will not only help to naturalize your property without interfering with the mechanics of your onsite wastewater treatment system (a.k.a. your septic system), they can also enhance its performance.
Beth Clawson, Michigan State University Extension
Technology & Biology
Creating a Biological Inventory App with Survey123
Survey123, part of the ArcGIS package of geospatial software, is a powerful tool for creating smart surveys and web forms that can be used to collect information in the field. Natural Area Preservation staff at the City of Ann Arbor used this software to create a reptile and amphibian survey app, which can be used by staff members and volunteers alike to record observations of snakes, turtles, salamanders, and frogs in city parks. Gone are the days of fumbling with paper data sheets, as surveyors can quickly and easily submit sightings on the web or via mobile devices, even when they aren’t connected to the internet! Location information, pictures, audio, and a variety of customized information can be submitted with the observations, which are then stored in ArcGIS Online. Learn how NAP designed their survey app and how you can use Survey123 to design your own!
Becky Gajewski, City of Ann Arbor Natural Area Preservation
Integrating Sustainability and Conservation in Illinois Rural Electrical Grids Through Pollinator Habitat
Increasingly environmental initiatives are pushed to an industry level. However, many businesses operate with the environment as a compliance after-thought, and upper level employees can have a negative view towards environmental regulation. An example is the impending listing decision for the monarch butterfly. Under this pressure the energy sector of the lower 48 states has been petitioned to help address the issues facing this species. In a collaboration between industry leaders, U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, and the University of Illinois Chicago, a candidate conservation agreement has been extended to address key monarch stressors. I worked with Prairie Power Inc., a Central Illinois power cooperative, to evaluate power-line right-of-ways for pollinator habitat upgrading. A positive environment was created through conversations with managers and staff and gentle advocacy of sustainability and conservation principles. Creating such bridges can foster opportunities for la[sic]
Grant Luckhart, University of Illinois Springfield
Pollinator-friendly solar arrays: design, policy, and performance
Solar panels and pollinators, they just go together! But does the performance match all the buzz? In the Midwest, proposed utility-scale solar arrays would span hundreds of acres or larger, generating concern about land impacts. We will review the expanding practice of pairing native wildflower plantings with ground-mounted photovoltaic solar arrays. Standards, permitting and policy, project design, maintenance, and evaluations will be discussed in this broad overview. The early results of a 2018 wildflower-friendly solar installation in northern Indiana will be highlighted, as well as planting plans for a second array installed in late 2019 and frost-seeded in winter 2019-2020.
Adam Thada, The Center at Donaldson
Stewardship, Gardening, and Restoration: Metaphors and Ethics in the Anthropocene
Wilderness and gardening are both contested metaphors in conservation and restoration. We explore the garden metaphor’s use over the past 25 years by Pollan, Janzen, Jordan, Marris, and other writers. Unlike a wilderness metaphor, human inclusion is explicit in a gardening metaphor. Several questions arise when humans are part of conservation including who has authority, expertise, and claims to territory. In addition, some writers question whether a gardening perspective puts certain groups of species at risk. We suggest a gardening metaphor works best if it is linked to the pragmatic, stewardship ethic articulated in Leopold’s land ethic. We define wild gardening as approaches that preserve global biodiversity while acknowledging humanity’s ever increasing role in that task. Ideally, wild gardening would help us address conservation’s colonial history while encouraging approaches that blend biodiversity preservation with community-specific cultural outcomes that enhance engagement.
Amy B McEuen and Megan Styles, University of Illinois Springfield
Plan your way out of Unplanned Events: managing landscapes with Safety in mind
Land stewardship is a hands-on activity, executed in all kinds of weather across widely varying terrain. Participants come and go; they bring different backgrounds and a range of experience. The task list seems endless, but safety must remain atop the pile.
This presentation lays out basic safety preparations that land stewards should practice in leading groups and empowering communities. Safety reaches beyond the individual realm when volunteers and those less familiar with the outdoors seek to engage; leaders must learn to appreciate their startpoints and the nuances of project sites. This perspective, applied in planning stages and implemented on landscapes, ensures that known risks are properly mitigated and all participants are well prepared. The desired outcome is positive outdoor experiences, and the first step on that path is safety.
Michael Bald, Got Weeds?
Recovering America’s Wildlife Act
One-third of the fish and wildlife species in the United States are at risk of becoming threatened or endangered. The crisis facing our nation’s fish and wildlife is daunting, but this legislation provides a solution. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will provide state fish and wildlife agencies and Indian Tribes with dedicated resources to address more than 12,000 species in need of proactive, voluntary conservation. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act will help recover and conserve species at risk by dedicating $1.3 billion annually for state-led conservation and $97.5 million to Indian Tribes for on-the-ground conservation projects. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will provide a legislative update and would like to discuss with participants high priority projects.
Dan Kennedy, Michigan Department of Natural Resources
A Green Revival / Cultivating Gardens for People, Place & Plants
A positive shift and a new way of thinking about our gardens, neighborhoods, and community green spaces has taken shape and is now a reality. Shrinking property boundaries, life in the digital age, and tightly packed schedules is provoking a yearning for a deeper relationship with the natural world. People are taking charge of their home environments by consciously choosing to create gardens and outdoor spaces inspired with a focus on place-making, homemaking, and regional ecology. The best outdoor spaces and gardens are planned in harmony with nature demonstrate respect for the web- of life and honor three essential relationships, plants to place, plants to people and plants to other plants.
Defining Stewardship and a Look at Our Role in Nature
Debate within the conservation community is to be expected. Students in conservation programs are introduced to the foundations of conservation through the lens of an early debate, Muir’s preservation vs. Pinchot’s wise-use. Today, our National Parks surrounded by National Forests attest to these two contrasting value systems working together, right? The current debate framed as ecocentric motivations vs. anthropocentric motivations is still animating a divide. Our values and motivations underpin what we do and don’t do in our conservation spaces; should we unite behind a single philosophy? As a stewardship professional, how would you respond to the suggestion that the word “stewardship” signals that the conservation movement is off track? Maybe you would point to Aldo Leopold’s seeming capacity to balance contradictions. This talk, told from a “how I see it” view of a local land conservancy manager, will examine definitions, philosophical underpinnings, and practical implications.
Derek Shiels, Little Traverse Conservancy
A free ranging discussion about the variable nature of time and the accelerating time-scape we live in. We look at how our temperamental short term competes with our stabilizing long view; how the drama of the moment obfuscates the wisdom of the ages. I hope to slow the 50 allotted minutes and consider what other time frames can offer us.
Creating Place when you are out of Place
Genesee County Parks For-Mar Nature Preserve and Arboretum aims to connect every neighbor, visitor and community member to nature and after all is our duty as a County Park. Join For-Mar Educators to explore nature-based programs and activities designed to connect the active older generations to the environment as a sense of “Place” both at the Preserve and as they take their programs on the road. There will be a chance to get some hands-on experience as we reimagine a common activity and help create an inclusive sense of belonging that sometimes is lost, especially when separated from familiar faces or possessions or places.
Courtney Prout and Nicole Ferguson, For-Mar Nature Preserve and Arboretum, Genesee County Parks
Why Water Matters: Water Walkers—Guardians of Earth and Water
Native People were the first environmentalists. It is time to hear their story and learn about their efforts to safeguard the waters of the Great Lakes, rivers, and waterways across the United States and Canada. Since their first walk around Lake Superior in 2003, the Ojibway have circumnavigated on foot, the Great Lakes, rivers, and waterways—walking over 19,600 miles. The water walkers’ message is timely and illustrates the ongoing concern of Indigenous people to draw attention to the condition of water. In the past, Native people have been shut out of the conversation regarding water equity and inclusion. They are now coming forward with strong leadership to promote environmental sustainability and social justice. It is time for the history of the Mother Earth Water Walkers’ to be told, along with excerpts from the Water Walkers Trilogy. A Hopi proverb says, “One finger cannot lift a pebble.”
Carol Trembath, Lakeside Publishing MI
Making Environmental/Land Stewardship Relevant and Inclusive – From being an ‘Outsider’ to becoming an ‘Insider’ and what I have learned along the way
The definition of environmental/land stewardship and conversations about taking care of our lands are being re-framed and re-envisioned. In this workshop, you will first hear about my journey of being an outsider who migrated from India, to feeling like an insider in the Golden Gate National Parks. Through facilitated dialogue and discussion, participants will then have an opportunity to share their own stories with the group. At the end of this session, I hope that participants will walk away with ideas and tools to create new ways of engaging communities in environmental/land stewardship, and inspiration to challenge the stewardship narrative.
Yakuta Poonawalla, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy
Environmental Entrepreneurship: Challenges and Rewards of Operating Your Own Conservation Business
A panel of speakers will discuss their paths in starting and running their own conservation companies, followed by a roundtable discussion about issues involved in operating an environmental business, and what role the Stewardship Network could play in supporting cooperation and collaboration. Panelists will discuss what motivated them to start their own businesses, what the biggest challenges and rewards have been, and what opportunities they see for emerging businesses and for mentoring.
David Mindell , PlantWise LLC
David Borneman, Restoring Nature With Fire/David Borneman LLC
Bill Schneider, WildType Native Plant Nursery
Jacqueline Courteau, NatureWrite LLC