By Neil Sauter
ROSCOMMON – Northern Lower Michigan has good reason to celebrate the Kirtland’ warbler and the conservation efforts which have helped it recover.
In the 1960′ the Kirtland’ warbler, a songbird which winters in the Bahamas and spends the spring and summer in Northern Lower Michigan, was nearly extinct; primarily due to loss of breeding grounds. Through effective forest management, including prescribed burns and planting of jack pine seedlings after harvesting mature stands, conservation workers have been able to provide the breeding grounds the species has needed to recover.
Huron Pines, a Gaylord-based non-profit organization with a stated mission to ‘protect the Great Lakes by conserving the forests, lakes, and streams of Northeast Michigan’ invites you to join the celebration. With a group of dedicated local volunteers, the organization assumed leadership of the festival last year, and has planned fun and educational activities to commemorate the Kirtland’ warbler.
On Friday, June 3rd, from 6:30pm-9:00pm the Kirtland’ Warbler Alliance will host the event opener at the Ralph A. McMullan Conference center in Roscommon. The opener will feature a silent auction, beer and wine served by Roscommon’ Fifth Street Market and a presentation on Kirtland’ Warblers migration routes by Dr. Nathan Cooper of the Smithsonian institute. Tickets are $25 and proceeds support conservation programs.
Saturday, June 4th the festivities continue at the Roscommon C.R.A.F. Center, starting with a 5k and continuing with nature activities planned around the theme of ‘Healthy habitats, healthy communities.’ Tours of Kirtland’ Warbler habitat areas will be provided via vehicle or while on a kayaking trip. There will be presentation about bird feeders and rare wildlife of Northeast Michigan.
This year’ festival theme is ‘Healthy Habitats, Healthy Communities.’ The Kirtland’ Warbler Festival Planning Committee, a group of 10 local residents and community leaders, presents a program that highlights the important link between conservation of our natural resources and the health and happiness of our region’ citizens.
‘Northeast Michigan is a region that is defined by the forests, waters and wildlife that our residents and visitors are drawn to,’ Abigail Ertel said. Ertel is the Community Program Lead for Huron Pines and member of the Festival Planning Committee. ‘An event like the Kirtland’ Warbler Festival is a great venue for raising awareness around how conservation and active management of our area’ natural resources protects opportunities to be physically active, as well as increase investment in our local communities,’ she said.
For more information about the Kirtland’ Warbler Festival or conservation efforts visit huronpines.org, or email festival coordinator Abby Ertel, email@example.com.