Saugatuck replanting Mount Baldhead after trees killed

Allegan County

SAUGATUCK, Mich. (WOOD) — The city of Saugatuck is working to restore a forested area of Mount Baldhead years after an accident wiped out trees.

In 2014, the city partnered with a local conservation group to attempt to rid the forest of an invasive species called Oriental/Asian Bittersweet. The plant is known to wind around trees, suffocate and eventually kill them. 

“The product that was used, which was authorized by the Department of Natural Resources, ended up having some adverse effects,” City Manager Kirk Harrier said.

The effort led to a massive accidental tree kill. Some naturalists estimate the treatment reduced the canopy by 75% to 90%. 

“It’s obvious when you look at it that something happened, you see the fallen trees,” local naturalist Jon VanderBeek said as he glanced at the north slope, where most of the damage is.

The city is now working to remedy the accident. It recently received a $1,000 grant from the Allegan County Community Fund to replant trees.

“The goal is to get that section of Mount Baldhead back to or above the condition it was in before the Oriental Bittersweet treatment,” Harrier said.

The city hopes to buy about 500 trees. It says this will it bring the hillside back to life and help to prevent something similar from happening again.

“We’re starting with trees and bushes that grow in disturbed areas … and we’re going to plant larger trees that grow fast, that can quickly overcome the obstacles to grow here,” said Vanderbeek, who is heading up the replanting effort.

Some of the species they plan to add to the area include sumac and pawpaw trees.

Volunteer groups working to replant the trees will start the project in the next few weeks. The operation will take place Monday through Friday.

Volunteers are still needed. If you’d like to help, you can help to email with “Mount Baldhead” in the subject line.

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