Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Recent planting of 1,000 native trees part of Manitou Passage Golf Club's “wild renewal” initiative on the Leelanau Peninsula

As a designated wilderness area, the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is hardly lacking when it comes to deep forest scenery. So what’s behind the recent planting of 1,000 semi-mature trees at the Manitou Passage Golf Club—the only 18-hole course located within a long iron or two of the Most Beautiful Place in America?

“You could say not all trees are created equal,” says Jamie Jewell, Marketing & Public Relations for Manitou Passage Golf Club. According to Jewell, invasive plant species had basically taken over the course purchased by a group of Leelanau County investors and reopened as Manitou Passage Golf Club in 2009. “Trying to return a native edge to the landscape has been the club’s mission ever since.”

Big Trees, Big Goal
The semi-mature trees — purchased from Komrska Tree Farm, in Interlochen— represent a diverse cross-section of northern hardwoods: cedar, maple, Norway spruce, birch, white pine and more. Ranging in size anywhere from 11- to 16-feet (depending on the species), the new trees will provide immediate shade, nesting habitat and cover for songbirds and wildlife as well as adding to the scenic enjoyment of clubhouse guests and golfers playing the exclusive Arnold Palmer course.

Komrska Tree Farm also provided a four-man labor team and the heavy machinery necessary for the planting, which owner Ben Komrska says will take about two weeks.

“This is a big job that requires a lot of specialized equipment. The smallest tree we’ve planted weights 400 pounds; the largest weighs in upwards of 2,500 pounds.”

Natural By Design
The coastal views, sprawling forests and farmland of the Sleeping Bear Dunes make it the scenic jewel of Leelanau County. But balancing modern development and creating a more enjoyable experience for golfers all while trying to preserve the integrity of the surrounding landscape is a job that requires a tremendous amount of foresight and planning.

The scope of the current project taking place along the fairway of the 18th hole required the expertise of Jerry Pearson of the California-based Peridian International, a landscape architecture and design firm. A Midwest native who has worked on various projects for The Homestead for over 30 years, Pearson understands that guests of the club come not only come for the challenging level of play at MPGC but also for the beautifully wild experience that makes this region one of the most scenic places in America.

“Protecting the relationship of the course to the natural environment was the first priority,” says Pearson. “But we managed to go beyond that by using native trees that have wonderful bark and leaf textures along with contrasting color—especially in the fall.”

Once the tree planting along the 18th hole is complete, Manitou Passage Golf Club is already eyeing plans for the next phase of its wild renewal plans, says Jamie Jewell.

“Our next goal is to improve the landscape surrounding holes 4 and 5 over the coming months and years,” she says. “We are hopeful that those areas can be further restored to a more natural landscape over the coming months. The club invites anyone interested in seeing the photos and progress updates of this and other projects to check MPGC’s Facebook page.”

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