On behalf of Clark Township, our Chamber of Commerce & Tourist Association and many community organizations, we welcome you to the Les Cheneaux Aldo Leopold Festival.

This year, join us again in exploring our local connection to one of America’s most influential naturalists through a variety of activities, excursions and featured presentations taking place in Les Cheneaux and the eastern Upper Peninsula May 31–June 1.

In 2018, we are celebrating a newly-updated public access point in the islands at Duck Bay on Marquette Island. Now known as Leopold Landing, the access point includes new docking, a kayak launching and landing pad, and information and maps leading to the trails of the 1,683-acre Aldo Leopold Preserve. Leopold Landing has been a joint project of Clark Township, the Department of Natural Resources, the Les Cheneaux Community Foundation, and the Eastern Upper Peninsula Regional Planning group. Boat rides will be offered from the Hessel dock to Leopold Landing at various times throughout the weekend. Those wishing to travel on their own can use a public access point for a short kayak trip to the landing.

For those who are adventure-minded, each day Woods & Water Ecotours will be offering a guided paddle through clear blue waters and forested shoreline once traveled by Aldo Leopold. Additionally, the third annual paddle-bike-run triathlon will be held on Saturday morning in Hessel.

For those who want to learn about the region’s natural features, naturalist Moira “Pat” Wilson will be leading wildflower walks. Birding trips for grassland and marsh birds, warblers and boreal breeding birds will be led by MI Sea Grant Extension Educator, Elliot Nelson, and Darrell Lawson of Petoskey Audubon.

Hands-on workshops are available for children and adults. Stop by Pickle Point in Hessel to construct your own birdhouses and nesting boxes at the “Green Bird” family workshop. And don’t forget to stop by the Les Cheneaux Lion’s Club community picnic to round out the weekend’s festivities.

Here is a sample of the 2018 Leopold Festival tours and presentations:

Explore the Alvar EcoSystem on Drummond Island. Alvars are rare ecosystems that occur in only a few regions of the world. The Maxton Plains Alvar is one of the largest in the United States. Tour the area with Julie Covert, nature photographer and Drummond resident. She’ll speak to its unusual habitat for plants, animals, and birds on the all-day trip.

Birding the Boreal Forest around Whitefish Point. Spend the day birding Whitefish Point and the surrounding area with Elliot Nelson. We’ll start the morning viewing waterfowl and warbler movement at the point and head south to the Tahquamenon River mouth. Lunch is at a local restaurant in Paradise. You’ll spend the second half of the day searching for boreal specialties in the areas of Trout Lake and Raco.

Photographing Wild Birds. Paul Rossi will explain how he approaches bird photography, technically and aesthetically. He will cover opportunities found along and near the North Huron Birding Trail, especially those related to season and weather conditions, flight photography of raptors, songbird photography, water bird photography, and more.

Exploring for Wildflowers. Naturalist Steve Baker will take you to the Gerstacker Preserve located east of Cedarville. In addition to showing you wildflowers, Steve will share photography tips.

Dragonflies: From the Permian to Today. Michael Kielb of Eastern Michigan University will share everything you ever wanted to know about dragonflies, including the difference between dragonflies and damselflies.

This year we are again offering online registration system for festival activities.  Visit www.aldoleopoldfestival.com to purchase your $5 wristband for participation in a number of festival activities. Exceptions include the triathlon, “Green Bird” birdhouse workshop, kayak excursions, and the all-day trips, all of which have additional fees. Wristbands purchased online may be picked up at the Hessel School House (Avery Arts & Nature Learning Center), as well as at the Les Cheneaux Community Schools auditorium before the feature films.

Some events require advanced registration. Please visit www.aldoleopoldfestival.com and follow registration directions for each event.

For general information on lodging, restaurants, and taverns, and other services available in our area, visit www.lescheneaux.org or www.lescheneaux.net. To learn more about the North Huron Birding Trail, please visit www.northhuronbirding.com. Bicycle and kayak rentals are available at Woods & Water Ecotours (www.woodswaterecotours.com) or by phone at 906.484.4157.

For all other festival-related questions and information, please contact the Hessel School at hesselschoolhouse@gmail.com or by phone at 906.484.1333.

—Press release provided by Little Traverse Conservancy

Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There:

Acts of creation are ordinarily reserved for gods and poets, but humbler folk may circumvent this restriction if they know how. To plant a pine, for example, one need be neither god nor poet; one need only own a shovel. By virtue of this curious loophole in the rules, any clodhopper may say: Let there be a tree—and there will be one.                                             

More Environmental Preservation Efforts

Photo(s) by Aldo Leopold Festival