Map guide produced to promote AuSable Birding Trail
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
Three organizations aimed at bringing visitors and economic development to the region have teamed up to provide a treasure trove of bird watching possibilities for visitors.
The AuSable Birding Trail features 22 hotspots for bird watching sites in Crawford and Roscommon Counties. The map guide includes a description of the birding sites as well as maps of the individual trails.
“The individual sites that are on here have always existed,” said Illene Geiss-Wilson, the executive director for the Grayling Visitors Bureau. “It’s just never been put together as a birding trail before.”
The map guide includes sites as far south as St. Helen and as far north as Frederic. The Deward Watchable Wildlife Site is the site on the western portion of the trail, while the Mason Tract extends out to the east.
The Roscommon County Economic Development Corporation Marketing Committee learned that grant funds were available through the Northern Michigan Prosperity Initiative.
A $5,000 grant was obtained, which was matched by the Houghton Lake Area Tourism Bureau and the Grayling Visitors Bureau with $500 coming from each organization.
The funds were used to develop the map guide, which was produced by the Northeast Michigan County of Governments. Signage was also erected at the bird watching destinations. The signs feature a QR code, which can provide bird watchers with maps of the destinations on their mobile devices. The trail also has its own website and Facebook page and is linked with Michigan Audubon Society website.
With an emphasis on education and preservation, the local communities worked with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Huron Pines and other environmental organizations to make the area a premier birding destination.
“We get a lot of bird watchers up here, but it’s never been a comprehensive trail that we’ve been able to offer,” Geiss-Wilson said.
Birders, novice to expert, are invited to bring their eyes, ears, binoculars, and cameras to the trails, woods, and waters on the AuSable Birding Trail for a rewarding birding experience.
Eventually, donations will be sought from organizations and bird watchers when the map guide needs to be reprinted and to maintain the signage at birding destinations.
“The standard is take nothing but photographs and leave nothing but footprints,” Geiss-Wilson said. “Bird watchers tend to be more environmentally aware.”
The AuSable Birding Trail map guide will be officially unveiled at The Kirtland’s Warbler Festival on Saturday, June 2, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the CRAF Center, 606 Lake Street, Roscommon.
The festival, which is being organized by the Kirtland’s Warbler Alliance, will include vendors, family activities, guest speakers, and Kirtland’s Warbler tours.
Kirtland’s Warbler tours, based out of the Hartwick Pines State Park, began this week and will run through June 30. The cost is $10 and participants must have a Michigan Recreation Passport in order to enter the state park.
Experienced guides will head up the tours, giving participants a chance at a rare glimpse of a Kirtland’s Warbler.
“They listen for the call,” Geiss-Wilson said. “It’s the males that are singing and they’re singing to attract females. You can never guarantee anything, but they’re pretty good at what they do.”
Map guides for the AuSable Birding Trail are available at the Grayling Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Houghton Lake Area Tourism Bureau. Copies can also be obtained by contacting the Grayling Visitors Bureau by e-mail at email@example.com or by calling (989) 348-4945 or toll free at 1-800-937-8837.