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  • New Community Vision

High Quality Lakeshore Habitat, and more…Findings from a forest biologist. Part 2: Plants and Trees

Updated: Jun 19

A natural community summary of the Timber Shores property has found incredible conservation value and potential for restoration for this keystone lakeshore property in Leelanau Township.

 

Forest biologist and botanist Liana May of Borealis Consulting  assessed property in summer 2023.  For her report, May toured the target property with NCV Vice President Beth Linnea Verhey and also examined available ecological historical data and information on the property and this very rich area of the Leelanau Peninsula. 

 

Her report outlines the landscape’s historical and current natural communities as well as providing an abbreviated list of native plant species. Overall, May found the property to be of “significant conservation value, particularly for protections and restoration of Great Lakes shoreline communities.”

 

The Timber Shores property is 214 acres, including a sandy beach shoreline on Grand Traverse Bay, giving it a scale and ecological variety that is rich with plant life. Borealis Consulting identified many current native plant communities and several quality remnant habitat areas prime for restoration and worthy of protection. 

 

Baltic rush, silverweed, purple false foxglove, Kalm’s lobelia (Lobelia kalmia) and Little Green Sedge (Carex viridula), a small flowering plant, have long been associated with Great Lakes shoreline and dune-swale communities. Borealis’ findings suggest the presence of historic open-canopy conditions such as interdunal wetlands and/or wooded dune and swale community with open swales in the interior of the parcel in addition to rich conifer swamp areas. 


Joshua Mayer from Madison, WI, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

 


Rob Routledge, Sault College, Bugwood.org, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons


Two key native plants on the property are: Kalm’s lobelia, which is a high-conservation value plant that is dependent on high-quality open, calcareous wetlands such as interdunal hollows, fens, marshes and American brooklime (Veronica americana) that is found growing along the shoreline of the property. In addition to these specialized plants, a significant number of other native species were discovered:


o   Flowering Plants

§  Primrose (Oenothera spp.) -  

§  Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) - flowers July/Aug

§  Silverweed (Potentilla anserina) - flowers in summer/autumn

§  Purple false foxglove (Agalinis purpurea) - 

§  Kalm’s lobelia (Lobelia kalmia) - flowers July through September

§  Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) - flowers aug/sept

§  Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium maculatum) - flowers June through October

§  Tall goldenrod (Solidago altissima) -

§  Lanceleaf aster (Symphyotrichum lanceolatum) - flowers Summer/fall 

§  American brooklime (Veronica americana) - flowers May-October

§  Grey-stemmed goldenrod (Solidago nemoralis)

§  Frost aster (Symphyotrichum pilosum) - flowers August-Nov

§  Calico aster (S. lateriflorum) - flowers August-Frost

§  Northern heart-leaved aster (S. ciliolatum) - flowers Aug - Sept

§  Horse-mint (Monarda punctata) - flowers July through Aug

o   Edible Plants: 

§  Blackberries (Rubus alleghaniensis)

§  Raspberries (R. strigosus

§  Horsetail (Equisetum arvense), - edible when young

§  Riverbank grape (Vitis riparia) - edible leaves and fruit

 

The property has a number of small unconnected wetland depressions - sometimes referred to as swales- between the former campground pads- which are not surprisingly vegetated with early successional aspen (Populus tremuloides), balsam poplar (P. balsamifera), white ash (Fraxinus americana), paper birch (Betula papyrifera), American basswood (Tilia americana), northern white-cedar (Thuja occidentalis), willows (Salix spp.) and riverbank grape (Vitis riparia). Herbaceous vegetation includes bulrushes (Scirpus atrovirens, S. cyperinus), swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis), and sedges and grasses. 

 

Below is a list of trees currently identified on the property.

o   Native Trees: § Early successional aspen (Populus tremuloides)

§ Balsam poplar (P. balsamifera)

§ White ash (Fraxinus americana)

§ Paper birch (Betula papyrifera)

§ American basswood (Tilia americana)

§ Northern white-cedar (Thuja occidentalis)

§ Willows (Salix spp.)




 

The Borealis report states: “Current vegetation reflects patterns created by past disturbances.” Given that the former Timbers Shores property has been idle for several decades, the native plants and their seedbeds are fighting to naturally restore the landscape. This natural restoration can be greatly expedited with focused conservation and volunteer stewardship. However, further  development will disrupt the natural processes of these emergent forests and natural communities that are trying to again reclaim the property as their home. 

 

When plant communities thrive at such a large scale, it supports more species and greater biodiversity. For example, the former Timber Shores property already has a robust bird and butterfly community, especially during migration season. Over 250 bird species have been found in Leelanau County. Many of these visit the idle Timber Shores parcel.

 

Last summer, the milkweed found on the site was covered in monarch butterflies and other fluttering friends. The monarch butterfly is considered a threatened population in the U.S. due to pesticides, habitat loss (development) and a changing climate. This highly vulnerable species – among many other species of concern such as butterfly and pollinators such as bees and moths – need the protection of large open spaces to call home as the County develops further.  We want to be part of the controlled growth of the Peninsula where communities – both natural and human alike – thrive together.

 

We encourage you to support conserving and restoring this signature property. 


NCV appreciates May’s work on the property.  In the next blogpost, we look into the shoreline on Grand Traverse Bay that makes this parcel so special. Read the first blog post about Wetlands here.

 

Borealis Consulting works for many conservation groups including federal and state agencies, municipalities and non-profits, including The Leelanau Conservancy.  Owner-operator Lianna May does natural resource management planning, floristic inventories and quality assessments, wetland delineations, threatened and endangered species surveys, invasive species surveys and management and is certified to write Michigan Forest Stewardship Plans, NRCS Fish and Wildlife Conservation Activity Plans, and NRCS Forestry Plans. For more see  Borealis Consulting




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