By Sakiya Duncan
Old Town Lansing Times Staff Reporter
Without places such as The Nature Conservancy or the Fenner Nature Center, our environment could be on a steady decline and natural resources, and our wildlife and land would be suffering.
The Nature Conservancy is located at 101 E. Grand River Ave. The mission of The Nature Conservancy is to help preserve and protect natural resources.
Melissa Molenda is the associate director of marketing for the Central U.S Division of The Nature Conservancy.
The Nature Conservancy is a global organization composed of nearly 70 countries world wide, and in all 50 states. “Our mission is to protect the lands and waters that all life depends on,” said Molenda.
At the Fenner Nature Center their mission is more so surrounded by education. Jenny Mensch is the program manager at the center. “It’s very important to provide a conservation message and connecting our participants to nature. We try to link it back to what people can do in their every day life.
“We try to give them knowledge of things they can do in their everyday life and at other park.”
“We work for sustainable solutions for people and nature, we protect habitats both on land and in water for species and we look for compatible solutions for our natural resources,” said Molenda.
“We teach people how to safely and respect the wildlife like observing them in their habitat and not disturbing them also ways to track them,” said Mensch.
The Nature Conservancy is involved in a number of project worldwide. They have just finished a project where they helped protect the head waters for the Grand River which are located by Jackson, MI. They have protected about 400 acres that comprise part of the head waters that lead into the Grand River that goes through Lansing said Molenda.
What does it mean to protect?
“Protecting meaning purchasing it so that it cannot be developed in the future, or there cannot be incompatible practices upon that land,” said Molenda.
According to Molenda, It is not open to the public due to restoration work The Nature Conservancy does along with many species still present. The main obstacle is removing beaver dams from the head waters every once in a while, or restoring the fire regime because many species rely on fire for their habitat. Also by getting rid of invasive species that choke out the nature flow of water.
The Nature Conservancy also purchases land for migratory birds, or rebuilding a reef for fish.
Savannah Guinyard is a student at Michigan State University studying Environmental Sustainability Studies. Guinyard was present on the riverwalk for this interview.
“People don’t realize how much of what we do effects the environment, and people should start voting for laws that help he environment and talking to politicians,” said Guinyard.
“Wildlife are affected a lot, the pesticides we use to manipulate and destroy nature all have negative impact.”
What does The Nature Conservancy fight for?
“We are pretty specific about what we do, you will not see our names fighting for things in public controversially we are behind the scenes,” said Molenda. “We are more policy and science based and we will to do anything unless its based on science, but science its slow and it is frustrating but we want to get it right.”
The Nature Conservancy studies to see how everything will be affected from animals to humans.
Though while science takes its time to develop, Michigan State University students took time to volunteer and clean up the Grand River and even tidy up Old Town among other places.