2017-06-01 / Front Page

Festival Pairs Leopold With Les Cheneaux

By Debra Petkus

The third annual Les Cheneaux Aldo Leopold Festival is a good place to learn more about the birds and mammals of the area firsthand from noted naturalists, identify and find Eastern Upper Peninsula native flowers, or learn how to tie a basic fly and the fundamentals of flyfishing

The festival Thursday, June 1, through Sunday, June 4, is named after a man many consider to be father of wildlife ecology and conservation. Aldo Leopold grew up in Iowa, but vacationed every August with his family at the Les Cheneaux Islands.

Mr. Leopold’s wildlife management techniques still are used today, and his “land ethic” idea - calling for a “caring, ethical relationship between people and nature” - has been widely adopted. “A Sand County Almanac,” published after his death, has sold more than 2 million copies and is considered a conservationist’s classic.

The festival celebrates Mr. Leopold and is a good fit for the Les Cheneaux area and its natural beauty, said Anne Fleming of the Little Traverse Conservancy. By introducing outsiders to it, “we are capitalizing on the assets in an appropriate way,” Ms. Fleming said.

Last year’s event celebrated the launch of the North Huron Birding Trail, which has become very popular, according to Ms. Fleming. Birding Trail maps are available online at www.northuronbirding.com.

This year’s festival will focus on community outings, such as a wildflower walk, bird sighting, a geology bus tour, and storytelling of Great Lakes mammals by naturalist Wil Reding, in character. The cost is $5 for a wristband to participate.

There will be a paddle-run-bike triathlon, kayak excursions and a “Green Bird” family-friendly birdhouse workshop, all of which have additional fees. There also will be a discussion of Mr. Leopold’s “biological fire,” referring to the loss of rich forestland habitat to the over-grazing of large deer herds.

This year’s events will include two films, shown in the Les Cheneaux Community Schools auditorium, that explore the ecosystems of the Great Lakes. Making Waves: Battle for the Great Lakes is about invasive species, including smelt and lamprey eels. The film discusses the invaders and the efforts being made to control them. The award-winning film Project: Ice views North America’s freshwater inland ocean through prisms of ice.

Children will be invited to the Old Shell Gallery, where local artists will demonstrate and teach advanced papier mache and clay techniques.

A Lion’s Club community picnic will wrap up the festival. Details and a wristband purchases are available at www.aldoleopoldfestival.com. Some events may require advance registration. See schedule of activities, page 13.

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