The Midwest and Great Lakes Chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) had its chapter meeting at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor earlier this month. These conferences are wonderful mix of presentations - by students, professors, lay-people, not-for-profit leaders and business representatives.
I have been to conferences and meetings of all kinds. It always impresses me how lively, open and welcoming these SER chapter meetings are. Student presentations and posters draw the same attention (and hard questions) as given to presentations of established experts.
One of the highlights of the conference was a visit to the Matthaei Botanical Gardens.
A major part of the Gardens have been restored to provide habitat for the eastern massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus catanatus catenatus), a protected species in Michigan. This restoration effort is a complex undertaking. Restoration techniques have to be adjusted and customized. For example, in many areas the snake uses habitat that includes non-native bluegrasses (Poa compressa, P. pratensis). Only after sufficient area of more mature native prairie habitat has been created can the bluegrass dominated areas also be converted to native prairie. In fact, the area where we saw the snake was dominated by bluegrasses.
The Annual Meeting Committee deserves enormous credit for putting on a great meeting and recruiting those eastern massasauga rattlesnakes that made their appearances! The Committee members include:
- Young D. Choi, Purdue University Calmulet (chairperson)
- David Benson, Director of Environmental Studies and Assistant Professor of Biology, Marian College
- Hua Chen, Associate Professor of Biology, University of Illinois, Springfield
- Cody Fleece, Stantec Consulting Services
- Robert Grese, Professor and Director of the Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum. University of Michigan
- Jennifer Lyndall, ENVIRON International Corporation
- Pamela Rice, PR Environmental Consulting
- Rocky Smiley of the USDA ARS Soil Drainage Research Unit
- Donald Tilton, Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc.