Need a shovel-ready vacation?
MARQUETTE — There’s something to be said for lounging by a pool surrounded by palm trees during a well-deserved vacation.
Some people, though, might want to mix in a little environmental stewardship with their time off.
The Lake Superior Volunteer Corps, a new program offered by the Superior Watershed Partnership, allows visitors to Lake Superior to get in a day of restoration work while on vacation.
While that’s not everyone’s idea of unplugging from work, other people might find environmental restoration stimulating, especially if it’s only for a day — and particularly if it’s helping Lake Superior and its watershed.
Emily Goodman, coordinator of the SWP’s Great Lakes Conservation Corps, supervised a crew who planted native beach grass on We Energies’ property along Lakeshore Boulevard in Marquette across from the Presque Isle Power Plant.
Goodman said the SWP has a grant through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to plant thousands of trees along the Dead River, and the beach grass plantings were part of that project.
The SWP, she said, has multiple agreements for such work with the different property owners, including We Energies, the city of Marquette and the Marquette Board of Light and Power.
At the We Energies site, the SWP has planted trees like white and red pines of varying sizes, and has been rehabilitating the dune by planting grass since there are many bare spots, Goodman said.
Crews also have been removing invasive plants like common tansy, spotted knapweed and St. John’s wort.
That’s the kind of work that should benefit the Lake Superior watershed, and it’s the kind of work with which volunteers can get involved. In fact, Goodman noted one of the upcoming volunteer events is shoreline restoration at the M-28 turnouts in Chocolay Township.
“We’re going to see how it goes,” Goodman said. “We’re just boosting it off now.”
The goal is to conduct restoration sessions every Friday, she said, which are intended for tourists, local residents and businesses.
If you go:
• Anyone interested in volunteering with the Lake Superior Volunteer Corps can sign up at www.superiorwatersheds.org, where there is a calendar on the main page with Fridays highlighted in blue. People can click on the Friday that interests them to sign up for a session
• They also can contact Emily Goodman, coordinator of the SWP’s Great Lakes Conservation Corps, at 906-228-6095 ext. 15.
Currently the program is limited to 10 people per session with no end date determined, but Goodman said the SWP wants to expand the volunteer program beyond Lake Superior, once it gets underway, with Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.
The question is: Will people want to volunteer during their vacations?
“That’s the hope,” Goodman said. “We’ll see.”
Already a crew has worked with a church group from Indiana — although it was on a Monday — which helped the SWP with its pollinator gardens by the Marquette Welcome Center along U.S. 41, she said.
“They had a blast,” Goodman said.
Anyone interested in volunteering can sign up at www.superiorwatersheds.org, where there is a calendar on the main page with Fridays highlighted in blue. People can click on the Friday that interests them to sign up for a session.
They also can contact Goodman directly at 906-228-6095 ext. 15.
In the meantime, people can witness what the GLCC has accomplished so far in the way of location restoration.
Goodman said the beach grass planted at the We Energies location was harvested from city beaches, such as McCarty’s Cove and at Presque Isle, where the plants were healthier, and replanted in the bare spots.
Jacob Coe, a Northern Michigan University graduate in biology and a GLCC member, was one of the crew members who planted beach grass Thursday.
Although the project was geared to improve the site, Coe acknowledged having a few guilty thoughts.
“You kind of feel a little remorse every so often, pulling beach grass. It’s kind of a love-hate relationship. I’d much rather be pulling invasive plants,” said Coe, who already has removed some non-native plants that, if left unchecked, could have taken over the spot.
Another GLCC member, Camila Dul, has an environmental science degree from NMU.
Planting beach grass gave her experience in her field as well as opportunity to meet new people.
“This is basically what I want to be doing,” Dul said.
Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.