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Problems with the Sand

In 1898 a large portion of Lake Michiganshore, including most of what is now Saugatuck's Oval Beach, was purchased bythe Forward Movement Association of Chicago. In 1918 Selden C. Adams, themanager of the Forward Movement Camp (later Camp Gray, now Presbyterian Camps)consulted with the Department of Forestry at Michigan Agricultural College(later Michigan State University) about management of the camp's property tolimit erosion and maintain what was left of the natural forest. This was thereply, written by a Professor Sanford and printed to the June 27, 1918,Commercial Record.


Back of MtBaldhead ca 1890


Michigan Agricultural College
Department of Forestry
East Lansing, Michigan


June 17, 1918

Seldon C. Adams

ForwardMovement, Saugatuck Dear Mr. Adams:

In regard to the report on the Forward Movement forests. It wouldprobably be well to class these reports as A and B.

Report A- The examination of thetimbered area of the Forward Movement revealed very splendid forest conditions.Understanding that the object of management was the maintenance of an estheticforest, the writer considered the same in splendid state of care andsupervision. The present superintendent seems to be very thorough and thecaretaker is looking after the cutting upkeep in good shape.

There is aconsiderable number of dead and dying tees throughout the forest, which aredoing no particular damage but which may be cut when necessity requires withoutin any way depleting the forest stock. There is nothing in the decay of thesetrees which in any way imperils the life of the stronger and more vigoroustimber ... As it is desired to keep the natural effect wholly there is only onesystem of management, and that is the removal of dead and down timber as itoccurs and this the writer thinks is being done in good shape.


Thinning in Places Advised

In many places thinning may be started atany time advantageously. The direct results of thinning are increased growth ofthe remaining timber and opening up of the forest floor temporarily. I do notadvise the opening up of the forest floor can this forest over any largecontiguous area, but rather in small spots of one-half to one acre in extent.

Throughout theforest there were found to be large and remarkably well shaped, almost naturaltrees. It has been found by the writer that the clearing up around these treesfor two or three rods, forming a circular area, about equal to the crown of thetree furnishes a very interesting and beautiful effect, the first effect beingto enable the visitor to gain a view of the entire tree form.


Asto Sand Problems

Report B -- This report is designed tocover the sand problems of the Forward Movement. Along the lake shore side ofthis forest are several blows caused by shifting sand. Some of these are lyingquiet and require direct planting only to make them properly safe. Other blowsare more or less serious and if allowed to remain as they are, or even to becontinuously disturbed by camps, may form very serious damage in the course ofthe next few years.

On Minister's Path is one prominent dunepoint upon which camps have been maintained previously, which is in seriousdanger of being carried away. Not only would the sand carry away the point, butit would destroy a large amount of beautiful timber on the slope in its path.It is recommended that camping on this point be discontinued and that steps toprevent further erosion be taken.

In another extremity of the forest thewriter found the most serious blow, which is a double-header, resulting finallyin a vast mound known as Old Baldhead, which dune is historical, and anotherlying closer still to the forest, known as Little Bald Head.


Dunes Traveling Rapidly

I believe allthese dunes are traveling at a very rapid rate, as evidenced by the removal ofdunes at the shores and the blowing out of old ground covering, and otherproofs which are numerous.

It is recommended that if possibleco-operative steps be taken to begin systematic control of Little Bald head andit is urged that this co-operation include the Forward Movement, the county ofAllegan through its agricultural agent, and the M. A. C. department offorestry.

Such a co-operation will demand aconsiderable amount of money, which should be forthcoming from many sources,owing to the fact that Old Baldhead rapidly approaches the mouth of the river,and is covering up valuable river shore property as well. Little Bald Head istraveling directly upon Forward Movement forest and is covering it up atconsiderable speed.

It is recommended that the proper procedurein an effort to establish this , dune would call forextensive sand catching, temporary barrier and planting work at the extremesource of the blow, which is not far from the lake shore. A series of barriersand protective cover plantings would be required until the top of the dune wasreached. In general the outlines of procedure ispretty well set forth in bulletin No. 79.

The writeralso wishes to add that little or no damage is done by tourists or othersplaying on the sliding sand on the east face of the dune. However, veryextensive damage is done wherever sand cover is being destroyed on the westernslope, and it is urged upon the Forward Movement to prohibit or discourage asfar as possible the maintaining of open paths which may in any way encouragethe starting of blows from the lake shore to the forest.


Specialsection of historical letters, recollections and reprints concerning theSaugatuck area.