South Lake. Photo: Glenn R. Hieber,

An enthusiastic group of HRWC field assessors, who have been volunteering with HRWC’s Bioreserve Project over the summer, were rewarded Saturday, August 18, with a guided walk through one of the watershed’s many high quality ecosystems, the wet-mesic prairie on the north side of South Lake, in the Pinckney Recreation Area.

One of some 27 different ecosystems found in the watershed, a wet-mesic prairie occurs on moist, low lying areas that frequently experience flooding.  The South Lake prairie (and South Lake itself) is part of a kettle depression created as the glaciers retreated around 10,000 years ago.

Sally Rutzky, HRWC volunteer and Michigan Botanical Club member, led the group and identified over 30 different plant species.  The group also encountered a number of wildlife, including praying mantii and a large, very cool looking spider.  Any ideas on the species?

What is this spider? Photo: Glenn R. Hieber,

This area is considered a very high quality natural area because of the diversity of plant species and the lack of invasive species, partly due to the hard work of Sally and her fellow volunteer stewards, who participate in work days coordinated by the DNR stewardship program to remove invasive species like autumn olive and multiflora rose.