Gallery: Planting for Healthy Water in East Tawas

A dozen volunteers joined Huron Pines staff in installing 1,000 native plants near East Tawas State Dock the morning of Sept 17. These water-loving wildflowers and grasses will help filter stormwater runoff at one of Michigan’s most popular state harbors.

This project followed treatments by our Stewardship Team to remove invasive species like phragmites and purple loosestrife from the site and make space for shoreline plants to get a foothold. Among the species planted that morning were foxglove beard tongue, bulrush, horsemint, blue iris, butterfly weed, beach grass, harebell, sand coreopsis and pearly everlasting.

“Huron Pines has been really successful in treating invasive species here, and we wanted to replace them with a diverse mix of native flowering plants,” said Water Program Director Samantha Nellis. “This is the last line of defense for filtering stormwater before it enters Tawas Bay, and this area will be a great example of the benefits of having a natural shoreline.”

Stormwater carries pollutants like road salt, bacteria, sediment and motor oils from roads and other hardened surfaces. Once they enter rivers and lakes, these contaminants can result in beach closures and degraded fish and wildlife habitat, all of which impacts recreation, tourism and the environmental health of a community. Deep-rooted shoreline plants can help filter this runoff.

East Tawas State Harbor has undergone $7 million in upgrades since 2017 and was the top-performing harbor for fuel sales in 2021, according to supervisor Micah Jordan, who was there with his family planting that morning.

“I appreciate everyone helping out and contributing to the native habitat here,” he told the crowd of volunteers. “Hopefully this is one of many projects to come.”

Support for this project was provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Sustain Our Great Lakes program and the Consumers Energy Foundation.

See photos from that day in the gallery below.

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