Staff, board members and close friends of Huron Pines gathered at Emily Min Hunt Preserve on Tuesday afternoon for a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the newly installed parking area and signage there.
The 428-acre nature preserve is located 15 miles north of Alpena on Shubert Highway and was donated to Huron Pines in March 2019 by the Thunder Bay Audubon Society. It features two miles of down-and-back hiking trail through mixed hardwoods and an old apple orchard.
A grant from the Community Foundation of Northeast Michigan paid for the installation of a gravel driveway and small parking lot, as well as a new sign identifying the preserve at the entrance. These improvements are intended to provide better and safer access to the preserve. Funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Wildlife Program will help aid in restoration of the preserve’s grasslands and alvar, a limestone bedrock plain that’s unique to the local geography.
Heather Huffstutler, Land Protection Director for Huron Pines, encourages visitors to the preserve this time of year.
“There are some great colors through the beech and maple forest, goldenrod and aster in the fields, and some really good tasting apples in the old apple orchard,” she said. “Chickadees, sparrows and finches are flitting all around and feeding on the seeds of all the plants out there.”
Brad Jensen, Executive Director of Huron Pines, spoke briefly during the event before turning the ceremonial scissors over to Judy Kalmanek, a board member of both Huron Pines and Thunder Bay Audubon Society, who cut the ribbon.
“I want to thank Thunder Bay Audubon Society for taking care of this land for a good many years and working with our organization to transfer ownership,” Jensen remarked. “We’re excited to continue to work with Audubon and many other community partners and to have this available for public use, for hiking and nature study. It’s very much worth protecting forever.”
The preserve is located 2 miles west of US-23, off of Shubert Highway. The new Emily Min Hunt Preserve sign marks the entrance which leads to the parking lot and direct access to the main trail. The preserve is open daily from dawn to dusk.