The Little Brown Bat Struggles to Survive

The Little Brown Bat Struggles to Survive

White-nose Syndrome (WNS) continues to advance across the country, killing at least a million bats each year. It was first detected in New York in February 2006 and reached the Straits Area during the winter of 2013-14. By the winter of 2014-15 it was found throughout the Upper Peninsula. As of this year, WNS has killed bats in 29 states and 5 Canadian Provinces.

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Invasive Species Want to Come to Mackinac, too!

Invasive Species Want to Come to Mackinac, too!

Things are always changing in the natural world. At any one location, some species become rarer as time passes, while other species become more common. In a mature northern Michigan forest these changes in species composition usually take a long time to occur and are rarely noticed by a casual observer.

Over the years many species of plants and animals have been intentionally or accidentally introduced to Mackinac Island and its forests. A small percentage of those non-native species have become Invasive. (more…)

Episode 1 Mackinac: An Island Famous in These Regions

Episode 1 Mackinac: An Island Famous in These Regions

“Mackinac: And Island Famous in These Regions” was written by Mackinac State Historic Parks Director Phil Porter and first published in 1998. The book covers the history of the Straits of Mackinac, its people, and its impact on the region and the world.

These first two chapters, narrated by Phil Porter, cover the origins of the region and the people who first called it home.

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The thawing ice forming on the Great Lakes helps increase water levels with the peak usually somewhere in July.

What is with these Rising Lake Levels?

The Great Lakes water levels have both seasonal changes and long term changes.

In a normal year the water level of Lakes Michigan and Huron rise and fall about 11 inches. The high usually occurs in July and the low in February. The melting snow and spring rains cause the levels to rise until mid-summer. Then the water levels slowly drop as the water warms and evaporation takes place. When fall and winter arrive, the rate of evaporation increases, because the water is warmer than the cold dry winds from the northwest. The quicker the ice forms and the more lake it covers, the sooner the drop in water level is reversed. By February the lake level usually stabilizes before it rises again in the spring. (more…)

Wawashkamo Red Oak Witnessed Island Battle

A enormous red oak at the Wawashkamo golf course on Mackinac Island fell after strong winds in July and has proven to have a history that far pre-dates that of the golf course.

A cross-section of the 200 year old oak tree. A Michigan driver’s license is inserted to give scale to the image.

In one of the first actions of the War of 1812, British troops surprised and captured Fort Mackinac on July 17, 1812. Two years later, 750 American troops attempted to recapture Mackinac Island. To counter the American attack, British, Canadian, and Native American troops took up positions on the fields of Michael Dousman’s farm. Here, on the afternoon of August 4, 1814, the two forces met and fought the Battle of Mackinac Island. An American defeat, the battle left Mackinac in British hands until the end of the war.  

In the center of the battlefield/golf course is a steep hill and stand of trees. In that grove sits the remaining stump of the red oak that Mackinac Associates Vice President Peter Pellerito, among others, believed could have been a “witness” to that American defeat. Pellerito arranged for a large cross-section of the tree to be examined by Dean Reid, a forester. Meticulously counting each ring and allowing for the height at which the section was cut, Reid determined the age of the tree to be 207 years old. Though very small at the time, there’s no doubt that this red oak was present during the battle.