Guided snowshoe hike provides educational opportunity

The Benzie Conservation District is organizing a snowshoe hike through the woods to help educate local residents about forest management and wildlife habitat.

For $5, attendees are treated to a 90-minute guided tour of Michigan’s Legacy Art Park in Thompsonville, led by Benzie Conservation District Outreach Coordinator Aimé Merizon (pictured above at left) and Regional Forester Kama Ross (above, right). Michigan Legacy Art Park is a sculpture park that houses more than 40 works of art. The 30-acre preserve woodland is ‘dedicated to sharing the stories of the people, events and natural resources that continue to shape the legacy of Michigan.’

“We’ve partnered with Legacy Art Park for a couple years to entice people out into the woods,” said regional forester Kama Ross. “It’s a delightful day in the snow.”

Last year’s event attracted more than 20 people, including “Families with young kids and senior citizens,” said Ross. “We had one group of three older women who had a great time in the woods.” Merizon and Ross demonstrate tree identification and discuss how various wildlife rely on the woods for a home. Attendees can rent snowshoes from Crystal Mountain Park or bring their own equipment.

“It’s a great opportunity to reach people and talk about forestry and our natural resources,” said Ross.

Ross was hired in fall 2012 to assist the Wexford and Missaukee Conservation Districts through a Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development grant, known as the Forestry Assistance Program. A year later she transferred to a new position covering three conservation districts: Benzie, Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties. Through the shared position Ross is able to help private forest landowners assess their woodlands and explore eligible cost-share programs.

USDA invests in wildfire mitigation and water quality through 2018 Joint Chiefs’ Partnership

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will invest nearly $32 million this year to mitigate wildfire risk, improve water quality, and restore healthy forest ecosystems in 24 states and Puerto Rico, according to a recent USDA press release. Since 2014, USDA has invested $176 million in 56 Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership Projects, which focus on areas where public forests and grasslands intersect with privately-owned lands.

Conservation districts have been among the partners involved in numerous projects since the inception of the program. This year, districts are part of two projects: the Louisiana Native Pine Partnership Project and the Sublette County Forest Collaborative in Wyoming.

“Through these Joint Chief’s projects, USDA will be working with local partners in high-risk project areas to control invasive species, install fire breaks and implement other targeted forest management practices to help mitigate the risk of wide-spread wildfires,” said Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke. Read more>>>

NACD Forestry Notes is interested in your conservation district forestry videos

Forestry Notes plans to launch a YouTube channel in 2018 dedicated to content relevant to conservation district forestry professionals. The channel will house forestry videos made by conservation districts and state associations and other content suited for this audience. If you have content to share, please email the video file and description to NACD Forestry Specialist Mike Beacom at

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