Natural Areas Management Planning for Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Nichols Arboretum, Horner-McLaughlin Woods, and Mud Lake Bog

Client Organization: 
Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum, University of Michigan
Project Location : 
Ann Arbor, MI
Summary of Project Idea: 

Goals & Objectives:

The goal of this project is to produce natural areas management plans and accompanying user-friendly interpretation for the four properties we manage, which include Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Nichols Arboretum, Horner-McLaughlin Woods, and Mud Lake Bog. These management plans will serve to guide natural areas management for these properties. The interpretation will provide a brief synopsis of each management plan and help the general public understand the importance of managing natural areas.
 
Theoretical Justification, Social Benefit, or Significance:  

The natural area management plans will serve to guide our natural areas management. The user-friendly interpretive materials (signage, brochures or pamphlets, website information, etc.) will help the general public understand the importance of natural areas management.

Specific Activities & Duration:

MBGNA staff will provide a general template and background information for the management plans that the student team can use in developing management plans. Each of the management plans will be accompanied by a user-friendly interpretation that summarizes the overall plan for the general public and explains why and how we manage our natural areas.
The team will assess the data needed for each of the management plans and gather this information from existing datasets and collect new information as needed. Some of the needed datasets (plant lists, management records, historic aerial photos, property boundaries, etc.) will be supplied by MBGNA.
The scale of the project is reasonable for a 16-month project.

Integrative Approach:

The project will benefit from involvement of students with a diverse set of knowledge and skills who can integrate the natural history of these properties with their present management needs.  Some the disparate types of information needing integration into a coherent natural areas management plan include the following: glacial geology, soils, botany, zoology, ecology, natural areas management, wetlands, ecosystem/natural community classification, rare species, ecological restoration, stakeholder engagement, aesthetics, planning and design, environmental psychology, and regulations/permitting, etc.

SEAS Program Areas: 
Conservation Ecology (Aquatic Sciences, Terrestrial Ecosystems, and Conservation Biology)
Environmental Policy and Planning
Behavior, Education, and Communication
Environmental Informatics
Landscape Architecture
Role for each program area: 

Conservation Ecology: Students would describe the natural features of each of the properties, including the landforms, soils, natural communities/terrestrial ecosystems, plants, and rare species. These students would work with the landscape architecture and other student team members to describe the management needs for each of the sites within each property.  Key knowledge, skills, and/or expertise include the following: Glacial history and landforms; soils; terrestrial ecosystems/natural communities; habitats and life histories of rare species; plant identification/botany; zoology; ecology; natural areas management; wetlands; ecological restoration techniques; ecological monitoring; ability to work as part of a team.

Environmental Policy and Planning: Students would develop and guide the planning process and describe the broader context of the site, including the watershed and adjacent land use. Key knowledge, skills, and/or expertise include the following: Planning; watersheds; land use impacts; applicable regulations and/or laws for wetlands, rare species, and use of herbicides and prescribed fire for ecological restoration; ability to work as part of a team.

Behavior, Education, and Communication: Students would synthesis the overall management plans into user-friendly brochures or pamphlets for the general public that explain why this work is important today. Students may interact with property neighbors, users, and other stakeholders by organizing surveys, public meetings, volunteer stewardship events, and so forth, to create a network of community support for implementing the management plans. Key knowledge, skills, and/or expertise include the following: Ability to summarize a complex technical document into a clear and concise user-friendly pamphlet for a general audience; ability to explain the methods and outcomes of ecological restoration and the reasons for its importance today; ability to work as part of a team.

Environmental Informatics: Students would assess and produce maps for the project, which may include historic and current aerial photography, glacial geology, soils, management zones, natural communities, roads, trails, natural features, landscape context, etc. Key knowledge, skills, and/or expertise include the following: GIS; relevant imagery and data layers; ability to work as part of a team.

Landscape Architecture: Students would guide the development of the natural areas management and ecological restoration planning, and assess the impacts of roads, trails, and incompatible land use and propose alternative design solutions. Key knowledge, skills, and/or expertise include the following: Planning; ability to synthesize information from multiple disciplines; natural areas management; ecological restoration techniques; assessment of trails, roads, and land use; issues associated with site access; GIS and other mapmaking and landscape assessment tools; ability to work as part of a team.

Professional Career Development Benefits: 

Students will gain experience in compiling and summarizing site-specific natural history data and producing a natural areas management plan. This experience is directly transferable to natural areas management planning and conservation planning for government and non-profit conservation agencies or for work for consulting firms doing such planning.

Funding Sources: 

There may be limited funding available to this project through Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum. Costs of the project should be minimized by being local.

Identify expected products/deliverables: 

Deliverables: 

Natural areas management plans and accompanying user-friendly pamphlets or brochures for the following four UM properties: Nichols Arboretum, Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Horner-McLaughlin Woods, and Mud Lake Bog.

Implementation: 

The management plans will be used to guide the natural areas management of our four properties. The management plans will be available through our web site. The user-friendly brochures will be available to the general public through our web site and gift shops.

Additional Faculty Advisor(s) and Department(s): 
Bob Grese
Contact full name: 
Mike Kost
Job title: 
Assistant Curator
City: 
Ann Arbor
State or Country: 
MI, Washtenaw
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
Bob Grese
Contact Phone: 
734-647-7704
Contact e-mail: 
Contact information: 
U-M faculty member
Our Organization has been an SNRE master's project client in a previous year
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Cody Bruder
  • Alexis Heinz
  • Rachael Kluba
  • Liwan Zhang
Project Status: 
In Progress