Annual Hartwick Pines State Park event dedicated to raising awareness of northern Michigan natural resources
Carlie Wilson | Staff Writer
On August 12, families pining for a unique kind of forest experience took the opportunity to participate in the Hartwick Pines Forest Festival, an event dedicated to raising awareness of the special and unique natural resources in northern Michigan.
The event also worked to highlight the connections between the history of the forest and the bright future ahead for the park. During the celebration, families were invited to come and celebrate the beauty and serenity of Michigan’s forests, and kids had the opportunity to meet Smokey the Bear.
Joan Charlevois, who’s been with the Department of Natural Resources for 15 years, ran a booth at the event on Saturday. Her favorite part of working in the parks?
“I get to be in the woods. A bad day in the woods is better than any day in an office. I get all of the fresh air and exercise I could possibly use, and even though I’m working, I’m still exploring. You get to meet and see all types of plants and animals all over the place. Sure I’m collecting data and giving treatments to unhealthy life; it’s still awesome. I love being in the woods,” said Charlevois.
Charlevois ran the “tools of the forest booth” at Forest Fest.
“I introduce people to some of the tools that I get to use throughout the course of my day as I manage and take care of the forest,” said Charlevois.
Charlevois uses many tools throughout her average day at Hartwick Pines.
“One of the tools that I use is an increment core. An increment core is used to take samples of living trees to discover how old they are. This is done by removing a small sample of the tree and counting the rings,” she said.
At the booth, Charlevois demonstrated different ways of tracking a location while in the woods.
“Some of the other tools I use include GPS technology, which is used for mapping and navigating. I also use a variety of different maps and aerials to determine my placement in the woods,” she said.
“One of the coolest parts of my job is the fact that I get to use a paint gun, which, believe it or not, is a form of communication. We use it to communicate, for example, when we’re going to a logging harvest, it tells the logging company what trees they can and cannot take. It tells them that these are the trees you can take, these are the trees that must be left, and more. Each paint color signifies something different,” said Charlevois.
Charlevois’s booth wasn’t the only booth present at the festival. Other booths included a make your own animal track casting, tree identification, forest health and management, animal identification, logging history, and log cutting.
Throughout the day, scavenger hunts and a meet-and-greet for Smokey Bear were held.