Walking through Michigan’s forests, one may experience many mysterious sightings: humps, bumps, pits, and valleys are all common features. If you look closely, you might also see crooked trees, or random boulders, or old fence posts in the middle of nowhere. But what do all these features mean?
The art and science of reading the clues in the forested landscape to decipher its history is referred to as forest forensics; the concept was developed by Tom Wessels of Antioch University and author of the book Forest Forensics: A Field Guide to Reading the Forested Landscape.
In Michigan, glaciers created most of the landforms we see today, and our forested landscape is fraught with evidence of human influence. From plants grown on old homesteads to fires that burned across the state, the clues remain and tell the story of what once occurred in our Michigan forests.
Join us to learn more!
The 2022 Michigan Forest Forensics program will begin with an introduction of forest forensics in a webinar format, which will also feature a sneak peek at each of the featured history hike locations throughout the state. The schedule, including partner organizations, is listed below.
Thursday, November 3rd from 6:30 – 7:30pm
Forest Forensic Exploration Hikes
Friday, November 4th from 1:00 – 3:00pm in Gladwin County
Hosted by the Clare and Gladwin Conservation Districts in partnership with the Little Forks Conservancy at the George and Sue Lane Preserve
Saturday, November 5th from 12:30 – 3:00pm in Eaton County
Hosted by the Michigan Forest Association in partnership with MSU Extension at the Oak Ridge Park Woods
Saturday, November 5th from 12:00 – 2:00pm in Crawford County
Hosted by MSU Extension in partnership with the Michigan DNR and the Michigan History Center at the site of the CCC Camp Higgins Lake (not the museum location)
Saturday, November 12th from 1:00 – 3:00pm in Marquette County
Hosted by the U.P. Land Conservancy at the Chocolay Bayou Nature Preserve
Saturday, December 3rd from 1:00 – 3:00pm in Barry County
Hosted by Pierce Cedar Creek Institute at an old homestead location on the property
Come prepared by watching recorded webinars
In 2020, MSU Extension partnered with the U.P. Land Conservancy to host a three-part webinar series, Forest Forensics: Ghosts on the Landscape, focused on the history of Michigan’s Landscape. The recordings are available on the U.P. Land Conservancy’s website: https://www.uplandconservancy.org/webinars
You may also watch Tom Wessels himself describe key forest forensic concepts in his You Tube videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcLQz-oR6sw
Details for each history hike location will be provided to registered participants.
Special accommodation requests required two weeks in advance of any history hike.
For more information or to request special accommodations, please contact Julie Crick at email@example.com.
For the first time, the DNR is piloting a new CWD sampling program for hunters. For faster CWD test results (2-3 weeks), these self-sample collection kits will be available to hunters harvesting dear in Eaton County. Hunters will extract the lymph nodes from the deer and will use the self-sample collection kit to submit the nodes via free overnight UPS shipping to Michigan State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory to receive no-cost CWD testing. Please call the Eaton Conservation District office prior to your visit to ensure that someone is available to assist you.
As in previous years, the DNR has also placed a collection box for deer heads in our parking lot. Instructions are included with the supplies and results for heads left in the box may take up to 8 weeks to receive.
The Eaton Conservation District (ECD) is seeking a dynamic Executive Director who will promote responsible natural resource and land use management in Eaton County. This individual should have proven managerial skills, strong communication skills, and the ability to develop and administer budgets. Qualified applicants should possess a bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience in natural resources, business, education or a related field, and must pass a background check. JOB STATUS: Eaton Conservation District employee. Full-time position.
JOB DESCRIPTION: The Executive Director reports to the Board of Directors and is responsible for the district’s consistent achievement of its mission and financial goals, as well as the day-to-day operations of the district. The primary workplace is at the USDA Service Center, 551 Courthouse Dr., Charlotte, Eaton County, Michigan. The ECD office is co-located with NRCS and this strong organizational relationship generates a fun and busy workplace. Schedule will typically be Monday through Friday, 8 am to 4:30 pm, but events may require flexibility, including the occasional need to work evenings or weekends, and overnights for MACD conferences.
Click on the file below to see the full description.
Olivet College, in partnership with the Eaton Conservation District (ECD), has received a $16,391 Stream Monitoring Implementation Grant from the Michigan Clean Water Corps (MiCorps). The grant will support the newly established Eaton County Collaborative Stream Monitoring Program.
The monitoring program consists of stream sites throughout Eaton County within the Upper Thornapple River watershed, part of the large Grand River watershed that eventually flows to Lake Michigan. Erin Pavloski, assistant professor of environmental science at Olivet College, is excited about the program's future. “Water connects us all – we need clean water and healthy streams to support life. This program helps us collect important data each year and helps raise awareness about water quality. We just held the program's pilot this spring, and being able to host community members as community scientists in the program has been wonderful. Working together at the stream sites has been a great learning experience for all involved.”
Sue Spagnuolo, executive director of ECD, is inspired by the outcome of the pilot program. “This partnership is a wonderful example of ECD’s mission. Bringing together community members and college students is a shining example of ‘promoting and encouraging cooperation with individuals, groups organizations, or agencies in an organized effort to conserve and improve the natural resources in Eaton County.’ I am proud of the students and community scientists who participated in the pilot program and I look forward to seeing this unique partnership grow.”
The annual program samples sites for macroinvertebrates (aquatic larval stage insects and other species) in the Thornapple watershed across Eaton County each spring and fall. The number and variety of macroinvertebrates collected at each site can indicate overall stream health and water quality. The program contributes data to a statewide database that provides important information to conservation districts and other natural resource organizations in watershed planning and management efforts.
The design of the monitoring program focuses on cooperative learning and building relationships between community scientists and students. Through this collaborative structure, the program is designed for ongoing engagement of community scientists and longevity in collecting macroinvertebrate and habitat data throughout the county, and aims to achieve the following goals:
Since 1844, Olivet College continues to strive to provide its students with rewarding educational experiences that will gain them the knowledge and skills for success in their future careers. The college and the natural sciences and mathematics department value cooperative learning experiences, volunteerism, and building partnerships within local communities. offers biology and environmental science majors and minors, and students will greatly benefit from participation in this collaborative stream monitoring program.
Since 1946, the Eaton Conservation District has been a unique local unit of government that provides natural resource management services, utilizing state, federal and private sector resources to solve today’s conservation challenges. Its services include protecting groundwater, watershed planning, woodland and wildlife improvements, agricultural programming, soil health information, stream bank stabilization, conserving and restoring wetlands, and providing tree seedlings, conservation books and information workshops.
MiCorps was established by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy and is administered by Michigan State University, in partnership with the Michigan Lakes and Streams Association and Huron River Watershed Council. To learn more about Olivet College, contact the Office of Admission at 800-456-7189 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Eaton Conservation District is currently seeking an individual to fill the 'Arbor Day and Environmental Outreach Coordinator' position, which is based in the Charlotte USDA Field Office located in Eaton County, Michigan. This position administers the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) Michigan Water Stewardship Program (MWSP) and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) grant funded program the Michigan Arbor Day Alliance (MADA). The Coordinator will be responsible for educating youth and the general public on a range of issues pertaining to our natural resources as well as plan the annual Arbor Day celebration and help with District workshops and events.
The position is open until filled with a tentative start date of February 15, 2022. Please read full position description and benefits summary below. Please direct all questions to Sue Spagnuolo at email@example.com
Eaton Conservation District's Annual Meeting will be held Thursday, February 10, 2022, and we will be holding elections to fill two vacancies on the Eaton Conservation District's Board of Directors. The Eaton Conservation District is a local unit of state government as set forth in Public Act 463. This organization is run by a five-member board whose mission is to be your local resource for natural resource management, helping people conserve, maintain, and improve our natural resources and environment for future generations in Eaton County. Any individual wishing to run for office must complete and submit a nominating petition by Monday, December 13, 2021. Candidates must be at least 18 years old and an Eaton County resident. The position description and nominating petition forms (for both 2 year and 4 year terms) can be found below. Please note that elected board members will be required to attend one board meeting a month, which is held on the last Tuesday of every month at 6 PM in the basement conference room at 551 Courthouse Dr., Suite 3. Charlotte, MI. For more information, you can contact Sue Spagnuolo at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 517-543-1512 x5.
Board Member Position Description
now hiring - Michigan agricultural environmental assurance program (MAEAP) technician
The Eaton Conservation District is seeking an applicant for an open MAEAP Technician position in the Charlotte USDA Field Office located in Eaton County, Michigan. This position administers the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) MAEAP program in Eaton and Ingham Counties. MAEAP is an innovative, proactive program that helps farms of all sizes and all commodities voluntarily prevent and minimize agricultural pollution risks. This position will be responsible for the delivery of on-farm technical assistance including risk-assessments, coordination of local, state and federal resources to help reduce on-farm risks and assisting producers in making progress towards MAEAP verification.
The MAEAP Technician position is funded by an annually-renewed statewide grant program through MDARD. A degree in agriculture-related sciences or natural resources is required and familiarity with Eaton County agricultural practices is very helpful. The candidate should have a good aptitude for customer service, the ability to multitask and be willing to do site visits on farms and woodlots. Ideally, the candidate will be available to begin work in mid-December. Please see full position description below.
To apply, provide a cover letter, resume, copy of transcripts (unofficial is okay) and three references by November 19, 2021. Email your application packet to email@example.com with ‘MAEAP Technician application in the subject line. Direct any questions to Eaton Conservation District Executive Director, Sue Spagnuolo, at (517) 543-1512 x 5 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you live or own property in the Thornapple River Watershed (see green area on map below)? If so, then you may be eligible to apply for funding to assist in improvements to your property or agricultural operation. The USDA-NRCS recently announced a sign up for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) in the Thornapple River Watershed area, which covers a large portion of Eaton County. If you are interested in soil health practices, grazing practices, wildlife practices or even forestry related practices then this might be the right time to apply and take advantage of this limited funding only available to this watershed. Some of the many practices that are available include: cover crops, nutrient management, no-till, filter strips, grassed waterways, fence, prescribed grazing, livestock waterline, stream crossings, tree plantings, forest management plans, invasive species treatment and many others. If you are interested or have questions about whether your property or farm may qualify, give the Charlotte NRCS office a call at (517) 543-1512 x 3. Applications are currently being accepted from now until November 1st, so don’t wait!
Please join us for our annual fall field day. This year, we will have nationally recognized speaker, Dave Brandt, to share his insights into the value of soil health practices on the farm. Dave is one of the early adopters of no-till and cover crops farming in Carroll, OH. You can learn a little more about him and his soil health profile here. Along with Dave, we will have other industry experts and local farmers on-hand to offer their experiences and perspectives on the importance of soil health.
We will have two separate sessions: a morning session (10am-12:30pm) for landowners and an afternoon session (3pm-6:30pm) for farmers/producers. You can register online or call us at (517) 543-1512 x5. You can view the Field Day Agenda below.
ECD's resource assessment survey
The Eaton Conservation District (ECD) was founded July 7, 1946 . Upon formation, the District set forth goals to remediate soil erosion because of the catastrophic effects of the dust bowl. Today, ECD continues to meet foundational agriculture goals while also expanding services related to other forms of natural resource conservation.
Every five years, ECD asks for your feedback about natural resources and conservation in our county. This survey helps us prioritize resources for the most important needs identified by our residents, helping us to educate, promote, and implement voluntary conservation. All responses will be anonymous. Please complete the survey by June 30, 2021. Contact us at the office at 517-543-1512 x5 with any questions.