ENVIRONMENT

"The Fragile Envrionment of Whitefish Point..."

Official Responses to Environmental Issues at Whitefish Point


“If you could travel in time, you would find that change is slow at Whitefish Point. Trees and shrubs grow at an incredibly slow pace, often a fraction on an inch a year. In fact, the Point, with the exception of changes people have introduced in the last few decades, probably looks much like it did thousands of years ago when the last glacier departed from Michigan. … Although protected from nature, [the plants] are not adapted to human disturbances. People often damage beach plants with recreation vehicles or even by continuous walking in an area. Once lost, these plants may not return for years, perhaps even decades. With the plants gone, the wildlife which depends upon them will also disappear, and the beach ecosystem will be gone.”

- From a sign at Whitefish Point funded by Michigan Wildlife Fund.

See Whitefish Point sign: The Fragile Environment at Whitefish Point: Part 1

Raptor, waterbird, & songbird migration at Whitefish Point...

Whitefish Point is one of the most important spring flight corridors for raptors in North America. … Whitefish Point is the most important spot for monitoring and documenting waterbird movements in the Upper Great Lakes.” (Human Use/Natural Resource Management Plan for Whitefish Point, pages 7 - 8)

“Although not as well known as the hawk and waterbird migrations, Whitefish Point also supports a sizeable migration of songbirds or passerines. These concentrations are caused by the geographical shape of the Point and its proximity to Lake Superior. … Sometimes their progress is impeded by weather and a “fallout” occurs. During a “fallout”, hundreds of birds can be found in the trees and on the beach at the Point. … Some [birds] … outside their normal range … have made navigational errors during migration and have become trapped at the Point by Lake Superior. Some of these species … have been seen nowhere else in Michigan. This group of birds attracts birdwatchers from across the state, looking for another new species for their Michigan Bird List.”

- From a sign at Whitefish Point funded by the Michigan Wildlife Fund.

See Whitefish Point sign: Hawk, waterbird, & songbird migration at Whitefish Point

 

Jack Pine Ecosystem at Whitefish Point
Whitefish Point is a barren landscape. Only very hardy plants can grow on its sandy soil and survive its harsh climate. … Although simple, this habitat serves two important functions for birds at the Point. First, migrating birds use the trees as protection from predators. Jack Pines also provide breeding habitat for a few birds. One of the Observatory’s research projects was to investigate which birds use this ecosystem for breeding … it was determined that the Jack Pine habitat supports 17 different kinds of nesting birds.”

- From a sign at Whitefish Point funded by the Michigan Wildlife Fund

See Whitefish Point sign: Jack Pine Ecosystem at Whitefish Point

 

Piping Plover Habitat at Whitefish Point

Piping plover are endangered and are in immediate danger of becoming extinct. The Human Use/Natural Resource Management Plan for Whitefish Point specifies:

“In the event piping plovers nest within the boundaries of Whitefish Point, the Joint Committee will be responsible for additional monitoring to ensure the protection of the nesting plovers and young chicks. Monitoring and protection will be conducted in accordance with the current plover recovery program coordinated by the USFWS in the East Lansing Field Office. Protective measures may include additional restrictions on human use, construction of nest predator enclosures and daily monitoring of nesting pairs. Monitoring and protection will continue until 30 days after eggs have hatched, or until all young plovers have fledged. Additional, temporary signs regarding plover conservation may also be placed at appropriate beach areas (page 43).

Piping plover and endangered species sign at Whitefish Point

Conservation Values for Whitefish Point

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service declared Whitefish Point “a nationally significant conservation area due to its geographic location.” U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service established the following conservation values for Whitefish Point:

1. A migration funnel both for raptor and passerine birds;

2. The habitat that provides resting and feeding habitat for migrating birds both upland and wetland;

3. Open beach nesting habitat for the endangered piping plovers;

4. Sensitive dune habitat; and

5. The historic character of the site.

- From Human Use/Natural Resource Management Plan for Whitefish Point, page 11

Official Responses to Environmental Issues at Whitefish Point
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