Herbarium collection manager Beverly Walters served as lead field botanist as part of a two year $150,00 federal grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to locate and assess at-risk plant communities growing on the four botanical properties - Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Nichols Arboretum, Mud Lake Bog, and Horner McLaughlin Woods.
Supervised by our Natural Areas Manager Jeff Plakke, the project, which ran from June 2011 - May 2013 was part old-fashioned fieldwork, part high-tech information-gathering. This project produced detailed botanical inventories of each natural area on the four properties, as well as a Floristic Quality Assessment for each. Natural areas were delineated based upon plant community, and each occurrence of a particular community was typically surveyed individually.
With 16 distinct natural plant communities on the properties, the majority of which are at-risk around the world, in the Nation, and in the State of Michigan, this critically urgent project established a base line for managing these natural communities for long-term conservation.
When asked as to what was the greatest challenge associated with her portion of the project, Walters didn't hesitate to say " navigating Mud Lake Bog. The only thing to hold onto was poisonous Sumac. There was little to hold you up and it took everything you had to stay upright and not fall in".
With the results now complete the next phase is to initiate an institution-wide stewardship planning process—a high priority for the botanical gardens going forward.
For further information regarding the project visit the web page, which includes maps for downloading and spatial data pertaining to the project and properties.