Saturday, February 28 dawned clear and cold, at about 8 below zero. But by the 10 a.m. start time, a hardy group was raring to explore the reaches of Sylvan Solace Preserve to practice tree identification. Central Michigan University student intern Jonathan Breithaupt took the group around the preserve to look at and identify many of the coniferous and deciduous species found there. Armed with his conifer handout, the group began by looking at conifers, paying attention to such details as length and number of needles in a cluster. Bark color and relative smoothness also helped to reveal identities. While most of the deciduous trees had long ago dropped their leaves, some of the younger ones still retained a few. Do you know the medicinal benefits provided by some trees and shrubs?
It has been a particularly cold couple of weeks and it was surprising to discover that much of the Chippewa River along the southern boundary of the preserve is frozen all the way across. A recent snowfall left ample evidence of the wildlife activity throughout the preserve. Large areas under the red oaks had been scraped out by wintering deer to get at the acorns lying beneath the leaves. Tracks of squirrels, rabbits, mice, voles, and what appeared to be river otters were easy to observe.