The Corridor Project

A wildlife corridor concept

OK John, What exactly is a corridor??   A corridor is a tool used by conservation biologists to connect areas of fragmented habitat. It allows wildlife of many different types to move between areas that have been blocked or restrict free movement from one area to another. These blocked or "fragmented" areas are sometimes created by natural events like landslides, flooding, or are the result of storms that alter the natural paths that wildlife follow daily. More often though the fragmented areas are created by us, as we build highways, open new land for farming, or as in this project, we build neighborhoods for places to live. Corridors can be many miles long or as in our case relatively short, much depends on the species that use them . Large mammals, such as Caribou and Elk use corridors, and small insects such as bees and butterflies use them.      

The corridor is created by making a path or trail of habitat where wildlife can move freely between areas cut off by obstacles in their way. Sometimes the corridor goes around the obstacle, sometimes over, and sometimes right through the middle. The corridor provides cover and protection, sources of food, and helps to maintain genetic diversity in species by allowing isolated populations to connect to other members of their species for reproduction. Greater genetic diversity equates to stronger , healthier individuals that can better withstand diseases and environmental changes.

This is a large corridor, the "fragmented" habitat is the large part near the center of the photo. This corridor is allowing wildlife to move through an area of agricultural production.

In this case the corridor is short, allowing wildlife to move across a highway ( which is the obstacle that impedes movement) safely.

The Sunview Corridor

The Sunview corridor is pretty straight forward. The concept is to connect the wooded areas on the west end and beyond on Sunview drive (left end of photo) to the Saginaw Valley Rail Trail (just across M-52 on the right of the photo) , which borders the Shiawassee State Game Refuge. The yellow line you see in the photo is Sunview, the next street behind it is Woodlawn. Both streets are significant to the design of this project. One way scientists assess if their hypothesis is accurate is by comparing one test group where an idea of interest is added , to an identical area where the idea of interest is left out.  By comparing the "normal" to the "test" scientists can gauge if their idea is working.  In the design of this project I selected Sunview as the "test" group and Woodlawn as the neutral or control group.  Although I am not yet a scientist, it is critical that all scientific inquiry follows the same set of rules to determine if the outcome is valid. This project was designed with consideration and respect of those rules.   

Ok, I'm with you so far John, How do I participate?  To participate, it's pretty easy. First you need to identify or plant a few pollinator friendly plants in your yard, be willing to make brief observations twice a week for the summer till the first frost, and log your observations on the "forum" section of this website.

 

All right, but that seems too easy, I thought you said we were trying to save the planet....... Every part of environmental stewardship is important, the effects are cumulative, small positive changes are amplified by nature. I'm in , what are the steps?  I will break it down.......

Hey, wait a minute, you own a greenhouse...Is this a sales pitch?  No, the environmental benefits outweigh selling a few plants. The plant list was designed with common plants available at most garden centers. You should be able to take this list to wherever you normally buy your plants and find them. In fact I have equipped this website with a phone app to make it easy wherever you go.

 

1. First is to assess your yard. Chances are you already have some plants that are attractive to pollinators.  For this project I am looking for yards on Sunview to have at least 3-5 plants from the plant section in this web site ( also, as I mentioned in that section, there are many more. You can just google plants for pollinators in Michigan). If you are on Woodlawn just plant like you would normally.  

 

2. Space between plants: the houses on Sunview  and Woodlawn have an average distance of between 105 feet and 125 feet. Since this is a corridor, ideally we would not want pollinator plants spaced beyond the 125 foot point. In other words we are building a trail of  flowering plants for pollinators to follow between areas of habitat.  I realize that this continuous flow might not be possible, but if a gap becomes apparent, and it is small enough, the data collected will still be useful.

3. Speaking of data, how the information and observations are handled will determine if the project worked. In this area there are several important considerations. You have heard the term "comparing apples to apples". So, for Sunview what I am asking is that twice a week, take a good look at the plants in your yard. If you see any bees, butterflies or hummingbirds, record the number (you don't have to identify them,but if you can, feel free), the time of day, an estimate of the temperature (foraging varies based on temperature), and a general description of the weather ( like cloudy, sunny, raining). Enter your observations in the "forum" section of this site once a week, where I will have an area specified by date and street. You don't have to dedicate a lot of time to searching for the pollinators, it should be more like a 5-10 minute walk through your yard. If you see anything, record it and report it. If you don't see anything, that also is important and should be reported. For Woodlawn, everything is the same except since you haven't specifically added the plants to your yards. Just walk through your yard and look at your landscape.... if you see any bees, butterflies or hummingbirds during your twice weekly observation time, record the number, time of day, an estimate of temperature, and a general description of the weather ( like sunny, cloudy, raining) and report it in the "forum" section of this website. Even if you don't see anything, it is important information, and should be reported.

 

This project focuses of the Sunview /Woodlawn area but can be set up in nearly any of our neighborhoods.  Additionally, a Facebook group has been established named " The Sunview Pollinator Corridor Project" anyone is welcome to join. To participate in this project, please e-mail me and I will give you a house number ( like #1, #2 etc.) to report. We will communicate through e-mail, Facebook and the "forum" section of this website, or as I know most of you I can always be contacted at the greenhouse. If you want to set up a corridor and you are not on Sunview , no problem! I wil be glad to help you get started in your neighborhood!  Contact e-mail : sunviewcorridor@gmail.com 

The Saginaw Valley Rail Trail at the east end of Sunview/ Woodlawn Drives

An overview of Sunview and Woodlawn showing wooded areas of habitat on both ends of the corridor

The west end of Sunview