Monarch butterflies continue their decline

The Detroit News:

Brenda Dziedzic caught the bug, or butterfly, early on.

She has fond memories of the fields near where she grew up in Waterford Township teeming with butterflies at a time in her life when she didn’t know a black swallowtail from a pearl crescent.

“They always just seemed so beautiful and peaceful,” said Dziedzic, 62, who now operates a butterfly habitat in Westland. “When you see them, it just brings a smile to your face.”

Smiles have been in shorter supply recently as the population of monarch butterflies, one of the most popular species in the United States, has been in a steep decline in Michigan and across the country. It’s a pattern experts believe was caused by a combination of factors and put the future of Danaus plexippus in question.

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New DTE Energy tree trimming program faces homeowner backlash

If you have trees on your property that grow near power lines, pay close attention to this developing story…

Hometown Life:

Faced with the threat of an emergency injunction, DTE Energy has agreed to temporarily stop an aggressive tree-trimming program in the Bloomfield area.

“We voluntarily agreed to put the work on hold,” DTE spokesman Scott Simons said Wednesday. “We will be meeting Friday with Bloomfield Hills City Manager Jay Cravens and Bloomfield Township Supervisor Leo Savoie to continue building on a series of meeting we’ve had with both communities.”

Following a directive from the Michigan Public Service Commission, DTE Energy and Consumers Energy are implementing an aggressive tree trimming program to help alleviate future power outages.

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Additional Information:

DTE Launches new tree trimming program

Aggressive DTW Energy tree trimming occurring in Livonia

The Michigan Gardener bookstore is OPEN for business

mg-bookstoreOur bookstore is now open. You can now browse all the titles we feature in the “Books for the Michigan Gardener” feature. Best of all, the bookstore is powered by Amazon so there is no need to setup any new accounts or input payment information. There is no better time than now to purchase some reading or reference material for the gardener on your gift list. Happy shopping!

Take me to the bookstore…

Cherry trees planted on Belle Isle, marking first phase of replanting project

Volunteers helped replant 120 flowering cherry trees around Belle Isle’s Scott Memorial Fountain in mid-November. Overseen by the Department of Natural Resources, the project was organized by The Greening of Detroit, a nonprofit organization established to guide and inspire the reforestation of the city.

“We are very excited to contribute to the ongoing beautification of Belle Isle park with the cherry tree planting,” said Rebecca Salminen Witt, president of The Greening of Detroit. “We have planted hundreds of trees there in recognition of the important role it plays in enhancing the quality of life in our city.”

In 1994, Toyota (Detroit’s sister city from Japan) donated flowering cherry trees to the city. Many were planted on Belle Isle near Sunset Point and around the Scott Memorial Fountain. Due to disease and damage from insects, many of these trees have since died or had to be removed because of poor condition. “The tree replantings of a disease-resistant species will serve to further beautify Belle Isle by filling these gaps,” said Kevin Sayers, coordinator of the DNR’s Urban Forestry program.

“This planting was the first phase in a multiphase project to replant trees in maintained (and other high-use) areas of the park.” Sayers also noted that the multiphase plan may be implemented over several years, with the next phase starting next spring. The cherry tree replanting project was funded as part of a $150,000 U.S. Forest Service grant. This grant is also funding hazard-tree removal and creation of a tree inventory and management plan for Belle Isle.

Since December 2013, the DNR has worked to rid the island of hazard trees in heavily used areas that posed a risk to public safety. DNR staff first inspected the trees. The majority of trees marked and felled showed obvious signs of hazard conditions. More than 200 hazard trees were felled, with additional trees lost during summer and early fall storms.

“(This cherry tree project) was a great start to replanting some of the trees lost on the island to storms, disease and human activity, and those just coming to the end of their natural life cycle,” Sayers said. “We had a successful volunteer turnout and fantastic cooperation between multiple agencies, and I look forward to continuing this momentum into the spring.”

300-year-old Auburn Hills walnut tree threatened by road expansion

The Detroit News:

The walnut tree on North Squirrel Road is older than just about anything you can think of to compare it to when you try to show how old it is.

When the Civil War started, the sprawling black walnut was 152. When quill pens scratched the first signatures onto the Declaration of Independence, it was 67. When George Washington was born in 1732, it was already old enough to vote.

Five years ago, an expert from the Michigan Botanical Club estimated that the tree was 300 years old.

Now some of its admirers are hoping it can survive 2015.

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