Removal of Invasive Black Locust Trees at Sleeping Bear Dunes, a Win-Win Proposition

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Date: May 1, 2007
Contact: Steve Yancho, 231-326-5134

For years Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has been struggling to stop the spread of non-native black locust trees which threaten native plant communities and cultural landscapes by aggressively replacing beech and maple hardwood forests and sprouting in historic farm fields.  That is until now.  The Delta Conservation District in Gladstone, Michigan needs black locust logs to shore up the banks of the Ford River to preserve an historic grave site where some Native American and early settler’s graves have been lost to erosion.  “This project is a delightful collaboration between several agencies and partner groups,” said Dusty Shultz, Lakeshore Superintendent.  “It not only preserves the resources of the Lakeshore, it also keeps an historic graveyard from being lost.”

According to National Park Service Biologist Ken Hyde, a few small plantings of black locust trees by residents of Port Oneida and elsewhere in the Lakeshore have now spread to about 250 acres at the Lakeshore and pose a growing threat to the native hardwoods.  Benzie and Leelanau Conservation District foresters familiar with this problem made the connection, and brought Lakeshore staff together with the Delta Conservation District for the project.  After careful review of environmental conditions and project research, it appears the black locust trees invading the Lakeshore are ideal for constructing the log cribs needed to protect the banks of the Ford River, because of their strength and rot-resistance. 

Specialized logging equipment will be used to prevent damage to the landscape during removal of the trees, and Lakeshore staff members will chip and stack the remaining tops and branches.  Superintendent Shultz noted that, “Visitors can expect to see crews working in the park near the intersections of M-22 and M-109, and M-22 and Port Oneida Road.   Other than a brief closure of a small stretch of the Bayview Trail while equipment is active, there will be no effect on visitor activities.”  The project areas will be restored and planted with native grasses and forbs for erosion control, and native tree saplings will be planted as necessary in 2008. 

This project is scheduled to begin on May 7th.  The partnership between Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the Delta Conservation District, and the Hannah Indian Community will allow us to make great progress toward controlling the spread of black locust trees and will save the Lakeshore thousands of dollars and many hours of staff time, freeing them up for other projects.  Project work to remove black locusts will continue throughout the summer, aided by a donation and volunteers from one of the park’s partners, Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear.  For more information, please call (231) 326-5134.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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