Monday, October 10, 2011

Enjoy Our Archive

Chippewa Nature Center launched this blog on March 4, 2009 to share tips for a greener lifestyle in a world where such information was scattered and hard to come by. Over the past two and a half years, access to such information has exploded across the web and many excellent resources are now available for easy access to information. A few choices include The Daily Green, The Queen of Green and National Geographic's Green Guide.  

Instead of continually trying to "reinvent the wheel", we've decided to let this blog sit in "archive mode" for a while as we assess how we can best use this format to connect with our readers. We've found that a huge majority of our online friends prefer our Facebook page, where daily program updates, trail conditions, photographs, and more are shared not only by CNC staff, but by YOU as well. That, we feel, is the best of all circumstances, when you are asking questions, sharing discoveries and interacting with us and each other. 

In that spirit, we hope you enjoy perusing the archive of articles and links on live green...naturally and check out our trail map and other information here. For up-to-date information, trail conditions, photo sharing, and to ask a question of CNC staff, please visit our Facebook page at

For the most complete source of information about Chippewa Nature Center, visit our Home Page at Here, you'll find a  yearly program calendar, information about  facilities, hours, directions, newsletters, checklists, affiliate groups, and MUCH more! 

As always, if you have a question, comment or concern, please feel free to give us a call at 989.631.0830 or stop by the Visitor Center and chat with us in person. Our facilities are open year round, seven days a week and are free to the public. 

Visitor Center Hours: 8am-5pm (M-F), 9am-5pm (Sat), 1-5pm (Sun) 
Building closed Thanksgiving & Christmas Day.

Trails open dawn-to-dark every day
No pets, please

Many thanks to all of you who make Chippewa Nature Center a part of your lives. We hope to see you on the trail, on the river, and in the Visitor Center as you Venture Out into the wonderful world of nature!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fun Fall Fungi

Autumn is here and the woods are alive with migrating birds, squirrels fattening up and the changing leaves of trees. It's also the season on amazing fungi, which fruit this time of year, spurred on by rain showers. As you take your next fall color walk at Chippewa Nature Center, don't forget to look down and enjoy these amazing residents of the forest floor. To learn more about amazing fungi, sign up for our weekend workshop, scheduled for October 7-9. For more details, visit Don't delay, the registration deadline is September 30th! 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Chicory Coffee Capitol of America

Take a drive through the Michigan countryside in August and you're likely to see pretty blue flowers in full bloom growing in the gravel alonside the road. As you might imagine, this "weed" was first brought to the U.S. on purpose, like many other common flowers we now find in our yards, fields and ditches (i.e. dandelion, mullein, purple loosestrife, etc.)

This lovely lavender blossom is of a plant known as Chicory, originally a native of Europe, which was brought to the United States as a coffee substitute and medicinal potherb. Chicory coffee? Down at the local coffee shop today, you'll have to choose between coffee beans grown in Columbia or Costa Rica, Kenya or Guatamala, Mexico or Peru. Ask for a cup of chicory root and you'll probably have a pretty confused waiter!

But once Midland, Michigan was known as the "Center of America's Chicory Field." Roasted and ground chicory roots were first used as a coffee substitute in Germany in the 1770s, though it has been grown as a medicinal herb for roughly 5,000 years. The Coffee Book, by Dawn Campbell and Judith Smith states: "Kaffee Ersatz was much in use during WWI and II when coffee was hard to come by and not affordable. Chicory's ability to blend well with coffee, tea leaves, or herbs has long been known."

In 1926, a local newspaper bragged about Midland County's place in the chicory-growing industry in its book, The Midland Sun, Second Development Edition. It said: "Few people, even in Midland, realize that all the chicory used in the entire United States is raised in Michigan, in fact, in Midland county and tributary territory. Formerly vast quantities of this root, which is used so an addition to coffee, was not grown profitably anywhere in the United States, and practically all imported from Europe. Then somebody discovered that the soil in Midland and nearby counties was peculiarly adapted to the raising of this root. In fact, nowhere else in the whole country are conditions so favorable..."

Chicory coffee was grown, processed and sold in Midland by the Franck Chicory Company, who owned kilns to roast the root in Bay City, Pinconning, Midland and Kawkawlin. In fact, a 1922 edition of The Midland Sun, stated that it wasn't unusual for area farmers to earn $100 per acre when growing chicory in their fields. The root was harvested in a similar fashion to sugar beets.

In spite of its success, producing chicory coffee in mid-Michigan came to an end after World War II as affordable coffee beans were shipped from Central and South America. Today, most cultivated chicory is grown in France and South Africa. In the United States, the French culture of New Orleans and rural Louisiana stubbornly stuck with the tradition and it lives on with companies such as the Orleans Coffee Exchange.

So as you fill up your morning cup of coffee, pause for a moment to consider where it comes from. What environmental price do we pay for those beans that are grown in the tropics and shipped halfway across the world? What other habits do we cling to that may have more sustainable, home-grown alternatives? As you drive those country roads, take a moment to consider those pretty blue flowers and the amazing story they have to tell.

Monday, August 1, 2011

ladybug, ladybug -- get out!

Just because you enjoy going outside to look for wildlife, doesn’t mean you want to share your home with critters! But how can you remove common home invaders without spraying stuff that comes in a can with a huge “WARNING” label? Here are some tips.

ANTS: Stir boric acid powder into two different types of bait – canned pet food, and jelly (some ants seek sugar, others protein). Set the bait in a shallow lid in areas you are finding ants. Foraging ants will carry the loaded bait back to the nest and feed it to other members of the colony. The boric acid will do the rest (it hits the nervous system, and is also abrasive to their digestive system).

EARWIGS: Place a dozen or so layers of newspaper in the areas earwigs are found (they love to hide in such shelters). Roll up the papers and take them outside periodically, well away from the house, and either 'release’ the earwigs or stomp them, depending on your mood. :-)

LADYBUGS/BOX ELDER BUGS: Use a shop vacuum to suck them up, then blow them into a plastic garbage bag and put the bag in the freezer for a few days. (Like most insects, they can survive the cold of the freezer, but not the dryness.)

Just remember, when you do choose to use poison insect control it often harms many beneficial insects as well as the pesky ones. So if you do choose a more chemically-based approach, please follow all instructions and warnings carefully and use sparingly. When you think of it, people are WAY outnumbered by our insect friends. We live in a bugs' world, not the other way around!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Emerald Ash Borer Control

Check out this excellent video about Emerald Ash Borer infestations by the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State University. We unfortunately have a large infestation in Midland County, including ash trees at Chippewa Nature Center. For more information about the City of Midland's recent efforts to fight this invasive parasite, visit their website here.