Protecting hidden wonders

Wood frog eggs beneath the water surface

Dear Friends,

Each spring when the wildflowers awaken and begin their annual reach toward the sky, something wondrous is also happening within ephemeral pools of water hidden among the forests at some of Legacy’s preserves.

Dip your hand, or a jar, beneath the water surface and you’ll find an entire universe bustling with life–oscillating fairy shrimp, undulating tadpoles, and mucusy salamander eggs thriving in these temporary waters.

Easily overlooked by the untrained eye, the ephemeral wetland waters known as vernal pools may shrink or completely disappear after a few months. But, it’s their short-lived nature that make these habitats so diverse and vital to forest ecosystems.

A fleeting nursery, these special pools protect and nurture the species that rely on them. Eggs of amphibious species such as wood frogs and blue spotted salamanders have a much higher chance of reaching adulthood because there are no fish to eat them. And, a species of crustacean known as fairy shrimp survive because their eggs go through an important dormancy stage when a pool dries up.

Ally Audia, Huron Pines AmeriCorps member, holds a wood frog

Ally Audia, Huron Pines AmeriCorps member, admires a wood frog

It is a unique relationship dependent on a delicate ecosystem. And unfortunately, it is in danger of collapsing. Due to the small size and disappearing act of vernal pools, they are not mapped, recorded, and protected like other wetland types. Without proper surveying, they can be easily destroyed and built over.

Just as the animals depend on the vernal pools for protection, the vernal pools–like the ones found at Shatter, Creekshead, and Johnson Preserves–depend on us to protect them. Join Legacy with a gift of $250, $100, $50 or whatever you can afford and help ensure these vulnerable ecosystems are protected. [DONATE]

This year Legacy proudly joined Michigan Natural Features Inventory (MNFI) as a partner in the Michigan Vernal Pool Patrol (MVPP). It is a state-wide citizen science program that gathers information on the distribution and status of vernal pools to help conserve them and protect the life they support. Read more about our MVPP partnership with MNFI.

We are inspired by the dedicated network of volunteers coming together to help an ecosystem and the animals who call it home. We are humbled by the interdependence we witness every day in the natural world. And, we are reminded that strong relationships are the backbone of a thriving community.

To protect the species who depend on the vernal pools, we must protect the vernal pools. To protect the vernal pools, we must protect the land. And to protect the land, we must depend on the people.

At Legacy, it’s you–the people–who hold us up, who allow us to accomplish our work and deepen our impact. We rely on the strength of our relationships and partnerships to form a powerful community of supporters who have, and always will, make Legacy successful.

Donate $250, $100, $50 or whatever feels meaningful to you, as we work to build, strengthen, and empower the relationships that ensure we have a future with cleaner water, fresher food, increased pollinator habitat, less carbon release, and more wildlife corridors. [DONATE]

Thanks to you, our community is growing stronger. This year we look forward to deepening long-standing relationships and starting new relationships in places we are just getting to know. By working together, we can make sure that future generations have the chance to experience the beauty of southern Michigan’s natural ecosystems like our enchanting vernal pools.

Yours in conservation,