Collaborative Adaptive Management of St. Pierre Wetland: A Model Public-Private Partnership
St. Pierre is a 130-acre wetland property managed by the School for Environment and Sustainability on the northern undeveloped shoreline of Bass Lake in Hamburg Township, 14 miles northwest of Ann Arbor. This site was donated in 1975 by Sam and Angeline St. Pierre to be used for teaching and research in fisheries, wetland ecology, stream biology, and other aquatic ecology topics. There are two communities neighboring the site: One on the east side with a canal between the site and the neighborhood and another on the northwest side. Part of the northern part of the property borders a popular biking and walking trail, the Lakelands Trail, which offers open views of St. Pierre Wetland. The landscape surrounding Bass Lake has additional wetlands and waterways, and includes the Huron River Chain of Lakes, a series of nine connected lakes along the main branch of the Huron River.
In 2017 the Huron River Watershed Council completed an on-site field assessment of the property because it ranked high in ecological value based on watershed-level GIS data. The field assessment found that the parcel includes a pristine prairie fen of very high ecological quality and that overall the wetland scored in the top ten of all wetlands in the watershed. Invasive species are pervasive, however, with cattails, purple loosestrife, and glossy buckthorn encroaching on the north and northwest sides, close to the neighboring developments.
We formed our master’s capstone project team in January 2022 to create a culture of stewardship and trust among stakeholders, uphold the research and education mission of the property, and protect the biodiversity and ecosystem services of the wetland. To inform our recommendations and actions toward these goals, we took three main approaches:
- Conduct an assessment of realistic opportunities for engaging both external stakeholders and UM users with St. Pierre wetland, and implement feasible engagement activities
- Increase understanding and awareness of the site using remote sensing data to assess and analyze plant species distributions
- Design and implement informed and community-engaged experimental invasive species removal in a way that both meets research and education needs and contributes to site restoration.
Alice Colville, Liam Connolly, Laura Gumpper Kimberly Heumann, Rachel Kaufmann, Xu Zhou
Meet the Team
Alice Colville is a Master’s student at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability, pursuing a degree in Geospatial Data Science. She has GIS, Remote Sensing, Natural Resource Management, and Coastal Ecology expertise. Alice’s desire to deeply understand her surrounding environment began at Texas A&M University, where she earned a BS in Ocean and Coastal Resources. She’s interested in how the use of geospatial applications can demonstrate the interconnections between Earth’s systems, anthropogenic forces, and climate change. However, of all Earth’s systems, wetlands are where her heart persists. As a GIS Intern with Ducks Unlimited she is encouraged to explore her interests further in wetland conservation and environmental stewardship. She intends to pursue a career restoring and protecting coastal ecosystems where she may utilize and translate her knowledge of freshwater and marine environments using GIS and Remote Sensing applications.
Liam Connolly is interested in engaging the public in stewardship and restoration efforts. He is preparing to use what he has learned while working with St. Pierre Wetland to inform community-oriented work that cultivates resilience in stakeholder relationships and ecosystem health.
Laura Gumpper is a Master’s student at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability with a focus on Conservation Ecology, Ecosystem Management, and Geospatial Data Science. She worked as an engineering professional for several years after earning her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at Michigan State University and pursued advanced education so that she could transition into an environmental profession. Having grown up in the Metro Detroit area, Laura is passionate about environmental stewardship in Southeast Michigan and currently serves this community through her Master’s Capstone project focused on wetland restoration and as a Jr. Restoration Ecologist/Environmental Consultant for Natural Community Services. She has worked on a variety of projects aimed at restoring the biological function and beauty of Metro Detroit ecosystems, natural resources, and green infrastructure, and plans to continue performing this type of work upon graduation in 2023.
Kimberly Heumann is a student in the University of Michigan’s School of Environment and Sustainability pursuing a Master of Science in Behavior, Education, and Communication. Her work focuses on community engagement within sustainable ecosystem management. Kimberly is involved with the interdisciplinary Collaborative Adaptive Management of St. Pierre Wetland master’s project. Following graduation in April 2023, she is excited to pursue a career in creating connections between groups and individuals and enhancing education and engagement opportunities for the benefit of both people and the planet.
Rachel Kaufmann is a student at the University of Michigan’s School of Environment and Sustainability pursuing a Master of Science in Environmental Science and Management. Experiences in teaching, farming, and trail work motivate her studies as well as her work to mobilize stakeholders around the stewardship of St. Pierre Wetland. Upon graduating, Rachel aims to engage public and private landowners to plan and implement strategies for restoring, monitoring, and managing Michigan’s natural communities.
Zhou is passionate about sustainable design and ecological restoration. With a unique skill set in conveying ideas through visual storytelling, Zhou is also eager to delve into the social impact of landscape design, including community engagement and environmental justice. Following graduation, Zhou hopes to pursue a career in science-based design and explore the human-nature relationship as a landscape designer.
Sheila Schueller, Project Advisor
Academic Program Specialist at the University of Michigan's School for Environment and Sustainability
Sucila Fernandes, Project Client
University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability Building and Facilities Manager