Saul Lake Bog – A Hidden Treasure

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Justin Heslinga
Land Conservancy Stewardship Coordinator Justin Heslinga

On May 16th the River City Wild Ones met at Saul Lake Bog for a guided tour by the Land Conservancy of West Michigan’s Stewardship Coordinator Justin Heslinga. ?Justin showed the group many of the fascinating features this preserve has to offer. We?began with a walk past the prairie restoration project that began in 2002 and has grown to nearly eight acres. The restoration is one of the largest and most successful in Kent County, thanks to a group of dedicated volunteers and a little help from the Grattan Township Fire Department.

Next the group visited one of the three kettle ponds, which were formed from glacial melt and are now home to many frogs and turtles, like the rare?Blanding’s turtle. There were plenty of mosquitoes too!

Continuing around the prairie, Justin pointed out the variety of plant life and pollinator activity. The juxtaposition of the old farm fields that have not been restored was evident. The smooth brome planted as cover crop before the preserve was there still offers nothing for wildlife. The prairie side was buzzing with activity, while there was dead silence on the brome side.

On the border woods section, Justin pointed out a rare sedge found in only one other place in Michigan.?Carex typhina or cattail sedge is just another gem to discover in this ecologically significant preserve.

Carex typhina
Carex typhina

Although we were beyond our allotted time due to so many interesting questions from the group, the tour had to visit the bog overlook. It was still early for the pitcher plants and sundews to be blooming, but the sandhill cranes had returned to their favorite nesting site.

After returning to the parking lot the group had their annual plant exchange with plenty of native plant treasures for visitors and?members alike. Truly a magical evening!

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