Our focus on protecting the water health of Lake Huron makes the harbor town of Rogers City and its conservation-minded community a natural partner for our organization.
Our relationship with Rogers City spans two decades and four mayors. In 2021, we finalized plans to work with an urban forester to expand the city’s tree canopy to support water quality and enhance aesthetics with natural elements as Rogers City begins a downtown revitalization project starting in 2022.
Mayor Scott McLennan is deeply involved in our partnership efforts in his community and is an active volunteer with Huron Pines.
“Rogers City is known for its vast beach fronts and visitors are drawn to the area to take a swim, search for stones, launch a kayak or soak in the beauty that open access to the lake provides,” McLennan said. “Keeping our water resources clean is critical to the city and Huron Pines is a great ally in efforts to protect all the natural resources that we so enjoy.”
A May volunteer workday in 2021 marked a return to hosting public events and engaging community members in natural resource protection.
“That day was a great way for people to get back out in the field with us and was a radical success from that standpoint,” said Brittany VanderWall, District Forester for Presque Isle Conservation District.
Two dozen volunteers joined Huron Pines and Presque Isle Conservation District to plant 55 trees at Roger City’s Herman Vogler Conservation Area. That event was one of many planned projects supported by the conservation district, the city and local volunteers to help keep the Trout River and Lake Huron healthy and protected. The trees were planted to absorb and filter excess stormwater that flows into the nearby bodies of water. The project was supported by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Sustain Our Great Lakes Program.
“Natural resource conservation is part of the community’s identity in Rogers City,” said Samantha Nellis, Water Program Director for Huron Pines. “They are eager to take action, and planting trees is just one step in our restoration goals for the area.”
In addition to supporting water quality, the trees were part of a plan to incorporate climate resilient species into the 270-acre recreation area. A mix of species were chosen, including bur oak and red cedar, specifically to see how they fare beyond the northern extent of their typical range.
“Trees adapt to changes in water and temperature over long periods of time. As conditions change, they can survive and change along with them. The rapid rate of climate change means that trees have a limited timeframe to adapt,” Nellis said. “We’re planting species that increase genetic diversity to give the trees a head start and improve their chances of sustaining themselves. We are trying to build resilience in Rogers City forests to retain clean air, clean water, flood control, recreation and tourism appeal.”
Huron Pines partnered with the conservation district again in the fall to remove invasive honeysuckle at the conservation area and are planning a volunteer tree planting event near a shoreline park in Rogers City in May 2022 with 500 trees.
“As a conservation district we serve the public,” VanderWall said. “Huron Pines has the ability to fund projects and has experts in facilitating them. Partnering with Huron Pines is the perfect marriage.”
When Michigan Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist toured Rogers City in August, Mayor McLennan welcomed him as a guest to our Huron Pines retreat. From the steps of a historic pavilion at P.H. Hoeft State Park overlooking the shore of Lake Huron, Gilchrist gestured with open palms as he thanked Huron Pines for our work.
“The mayor was telling me about the work you do on invasive species and stewardship more broadly,” Gilchrist said. “You share how important it is for everyone to be good stewards in a way that is accessible to them, in a way so that everybody knows they have a role to play today so we can protect what we need for tomorrow. This is the front line of how we respond to climate change as a people.”
Toasting Healthy Water
Our business partners help us reach new audiences, present us with new fundraising opportunities and often have a personal passion for the outdoors. Cheboygan Brewing Company is no exception.
They recently released a special Pigeon River Pilsner that celebrates Pigeon River Country and bears our logo in tribute to our work to protect and restore the waterways of Northern Michigan.
“This easy drinking pilsner is pure and refreshing like the Pigeon River in Northern Michigan,” reads the label. “To continue our stewardship of the outdoors, we pledge our support as a Sustaining Member to Huron Pines, whose mission is to conserve and enhance Northern Michigan’s natural resources to ensure healthy water, protected places and vibrant communities.”
Brewery owner Tony Pitts said his staff and patrons enjoy fishing, hiking and playing outdoors in the Pigeon River Country State Forest south of town.
“It has a special place in our hearts,” Pitts said. “Huron Pines plays a very important role in protecting the places our staff and customers spend much of our time so it felt like a fitting partnership. The Pigeon River symbolizes what is great about this area, and honoring the river seemed natural to us.”
Brewmaster Brian Lindsay is one staff member with a tie to both the Pigeon River and Huron Pines. Before brewing beer for Cheboygan Brewing Company, Lindsay served as a Huron Pines AmeriCorps member in 2013. He served with the Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited where he focused on river improvement projects that took him to the Pigeon, Sturgeon and Black rivers.
Thanks to businesses like Cheboygan Brewing Company, Evil Queen Candles, M&M Excavating and Michigan Overboard, Huron Pines is building connections to new supporters across industries and across the state.
If you are a business interested in exploring a partnership opportunity with Huron Pines, contact Marketing and Development Director Colby Chilcote at email@example.com.
This piece originally appeared in our 2021 Annual Report, published April 2022.