November 11 Joint AuSable Valley and Thunder Bay Audubon meeting

Guest Speaker Richard Castle, Consumers Energy

Richard Castle, Consumers Energy, Natural Resource Manager for Hydro Generation

Richard Castle, Consumers Energy, Natural Resource Manager for Hydro Generation

Our speaker was Richard Castle of Consumers Energy. Richard is the Natural Resource Manager for Hydro Generation. He spoke about what Consumers Energy does and what their Hydro Operation does.

All Consumers Hydro operations are managed under land and water management plans approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The land management plan covers three main areas: recreational development, forestry, and wildlife management.

Consumers Hydro Operations managers 13 river hydros in Michigan, located on the Manistee, Muskegon, Ausable, Grand, and Kalamazoo rivers. All operations are regulated by FERC.

CE-slide-riverhydro-webJoint management teams are in place for each of these areas, with representatives from Consumers, the USFS, Michigan DNR, USF&WS, and the Michigan hydro re-licensing coalition. These groups meet regularly to perform consultation on operations and land management for each area.

Each land management plan has five sub-plans: buffer zone management; wildlife, threatened-endangered species, and forestry; bald eagle management; recreational development; and lease/license facilities.

Consumers manages over 12,000 acres. These areas are open to the public with the following rules: hunting is allowed; snowmobiles allowed on trails; no ATV’s or UTV’s; no camping or fires, take out what you bring in; and Leave No Trace. Enforcement is by CE Hydro Patrol in cooperation with the DNR, US Forestry Service, and local law enforcement agencies.

Consumers places a strong emphasis on wildlife management. Within their managed properties, they have programs for the endangered Indiana bat, the Karner Blue Butterfly, Bald Eagles, Trumpeter Swans, etc. They also have programs for nest-box placement, milkweed planting, warm season grass planting, timber cuts, and a bat box program.

Thunder Bay Audubon news

Linda Klemens, TBAS President

Linda Klemens, TBAS President

Linda Klemens, TBAS President announced that next year (2015) is the fiftieth anniversary of TBAS.

Sunrise Coast Birding Trail

The birding trail is getting closer to a reality, with sign design selected and areas selected for sign placement. Keep an eye out on the US-23 Heritage Route site for more information.

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AVA October Field Trip notes


“Well, that was fun, and we were doing something very different” was the comment and general consensus following our Wednesday, October 29, 10:00 a.m. geocaching field trip. After the field trip we stopped for lunch at Augie’s-by-the-Bay, which gave us more time to discuss GPS units and the sport of geocaching.

If you weren’t at the October 14th meeting of the AuSable Valley Audubon you missed GeoCaching 101, which was prepared and presented by Gary and Donette Spiekerman.   If you missed it, you might be asking, ‘what on earth is geocaching?”

Geocaching is a fun sport that is growing in popularity. The website states, “Geocaching is a real-world treasure hunt that is happening right now, all around you. It is a treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. There are 2,522,392 active geocaches and over 6 million geocachers worldwide.”

Geocaching will take you to amazing and beautiful places or places in your own town that you’ve never seen. You will be amazed at all the locations where geocaches are located. To start finding geocaches, go to; create your free account. (You can read all about it there.) From there you can pick the geocache that you wish to find and navigate to its location using your GPS unit. Some are hard to find and you’ll be excited with each find. After finding the geocache, sign the logbook and put the geocache container back in the same spot as you found it. Then log your find on the website. It’s that easy!!!…and fun.

For today’s field trip we searched for five East Tawas caches and found each one. After signing each logbook we added one of our AuSable Valley Audubon Emergency Rain Ponchos to the cache. Each member got a chance to use a GPS unit and follow the directions to the five cache sites. Our AVA participant members had a very good geocaching morning.

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Season ending M-55 Roadside Cleanup a success


Pre-cleanup organization provided by Sue Duncan

Pre-cleanup organization provided by Sue Duncan

AVA’s September M-55 Highway clean up took place on Monday, 9/22. The volunteers had wonderful weather. Special thanks to David and Ruth Golm for providing  the cider and donuts  for our ‘tailgate party’.

Fourteen people helped to make easy and rapid work of our assigned 2 mile route. We collected a total of 14 bags of trash which included a house roof ventilator and the detached enameled stove top of a 4 burner kitchen gas range.

Bob K. suggested we begin saving the found parts and assemble a car from the many vehicle parts we’ve collected. We certainly have found lots of vehicle front end plastic parts that have fallen from cars after collisions with deer.

Our volunteers - Thank you for all you do.

Our volunteers – Thank you for all you do.

Thanks to our M-55 Road Cleanup coordinators Sue and Larry for all they do. (And for the photos!)

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2014 Piping Plover Report is available

George and chick, from our successful nest of 2014.

George and chick, from our successful nest of 2014.

The successes and heartbreaks of this year’s Piping Plovers in the AuSable/Oscoda/Tawas area is now available.

The report has been added to our Piping Plover Advocacy page. Click the link to view it.

Many thanks to Peggy Ridgway, our local Piping Plover volunteer coordinator and the many volunteers and workers who spent countless hours this summer at tasks related to helping this very threatened species through their very challenging nesting cycle.

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Invasive Species Resources from the September 9 AVA Meeting

Jennifer Muladore, Huron Pines Communications Manager, was our guest speaker at our first fall meeting. The topic was Invasive Species in the Northeast Michigan area and the status of current control and inventory projects in Northeast Michigan. Ms. Muladore provided many resources to assist the individual to recognize and identify a potential invasive species infestation. Huron Pines stands ready to assist in infestation assessments and providing treatment recommendations.

See the Huron Pines Invasive Species page for additional details and resources.

Additional links:
Huron Pines –
DEQ’s Phragmites page:
Midwest Invasive Species Information Network –
Michigan Invasive Species Coalition –

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AVA receives Award during August 26th picnic outing at Tawas Point

Certificate of Appreciation for Invasive Species Removal at Tawas Point State Park

Certificate of Appreciation for Invasive Species Removal at Tawas Point State Park

The AVA members and guests had a great time at the end-of-summer potluck picnic at the Tawas Point State Park on Tuesday, August 26, 2014. The weather was very warm and humid, and the breeze off the big lake made it perfect. Before filling our plates and eating inside the pavilion, we gathered outside on the deck. Lee shared about what he is planning with his study of wild rice in the area and Peggy Ridgway shared her report on this summer’s Piping Plover success. State park director, Chuck Allen, and his wife Peggy were present. All of us were surprised when he awarded the AuSable Valley Audubon with a DNR Certificate of Appreciation Award for Invasive Species Removal. Donette Spiekerman accepted the award on behalf of the AVA and those members who have worked to remove invasive species plants from the state park. Continue reading

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Upcoming September Meeting – new program schedule available

Our first meeting of the 2014-2015 schedule will be Tuesday, September 9, at 7 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Tawas High School Library. The speaker will be Jennifer Muladore, biologist and Communications Manager for the Huron Pines organization. The topic will be Invasive Species in the Northeast Michigan area.

This will be a great meeting topic as the AuSable Valley Audubon is active in a number of areas of community service and activism. Invasive species removal is just one of those areas. See our Invasive Plants Removal project page.

The 2014-2015 AuSable Valley Audubon schedule of programs, meetings and events is now available. You can download a copy here: 2014-2015 AVA Program Schedule

Get your copy now so that you know when and where the meetings and field trips will be held over the next year.

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USFS Lumberman’s Monument and AVA Birdhouse Workshop

AVA member Bob Kemnitz

AVA member Bob K.

On Saturday, August 9, 2014, the AuSable Valley Audubon (AVA) conducted a bluebird house build on behalf of the USFS as a part of their summer educational program. This program, titled the Lumberman’s Monument Birdhouse workshop was attended by approximately 20 children and their parents participated in the workshop. We had a beautiful summer afternoon for the workshop. Continue reading

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Tuttle Marsh Video – new just released

Cardinal Flowers at Tuttle Marsh - photo by Ed Cole

Cardinal Flowers at Tuttle Marsh – photo by Ed Cole

Several AVA members provided comments within this video on YouTube, which talks about one of our great area birding sites and nature areas, the Tuttle Marsh National Wildlife Area. More information on Tuttle Marsh is available on the DNR’s site at this link: DNR – Tuttle Marsh. The video was posted by Heritage Route 23.

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Removing Invasive Spotted Knapweed at Tawas Point St. Park

Volunteers from the AVA have been working for the last 5 Tuesdays at Tawas Point State Park working at removing invasive Spotted Knapweed from various high traffic areas. This event is a regular weekly volunteer opportunity to remove invasive plant material from the park. Sixty-six garbage bags full have been removed from the park during these last pulls.

Bag of noxious Spotted Knapweed ready for disposal

Bag of noxious Spotted Knapweed ready for disposal

Sue with a giant plant (and root) removed during our pull

Sue with a giant plant (and root) removed during our pull

The crew with the day's harvest

The crew with the day’s harvest

removing Spotted Knapweed near the Pavilion parking lot

Removing Spotted Knapweed near the Pavilion parking lot

We will be working in any weather other than thunder storms each Tuesday beginning at 9 AM and working for about 2 hours. These pulling events will be scheduled until the Spotted Knapweed reaches a growth point where it can no longer be pulled because of the risk of spreading seeds. At the present time, Spotted Knapweed at the park is just starting to flower. Because of the urgency of removing the plant at this stage of growth, two pulls (Monday and Tuesday) are scheduled for the week of 7/28.

Pitch in and help improve your park. Hiking clothes with a good pair of gloves are recommended.

See you there!

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