Welcome our new Conservation Specialist

Welcome our new Conservation Specialist

By Marilyn Shy


Do you have a question about the management of your forest? Want to know how to stop the erosion on your riverbank? Is there a bug eating your trees that you’d like to control?

All these questions and more can be answered by the Kalkaska Conservation District’s new Conservation Specialist, Renee Penny. Renee comes to Kalkaska with a B.A. Degree in Conservation Leadership from Lake Superior State University. Her past experience includes work as a utility arborist with Environmental Consultants, Inc., and as a restoration technician with Cardno JFNew. She also has had a variety of experiences conducting ecological restoration while working for The Nature Conservancy in Swanson, Ohio. She has participated in prescribed burns and has knowledge of many techniques used to control invasive plants, such as herbicide application, mowing and hand pulling. In addition, she assisted in bird banding and Piping Plover research at Whitefish Point in the Upper Peninsula.

Renee’s responsibilities include working with landowners in Kalkaska County to manage forest and wildlife resources. She can provide on-site assistance and is very knowledgeable in plant and tree identification, both native and invasive species. She can help landowners develop plans for attracting wildlife to their property, including planting trees, shrubs and wildlife food plots. She can make recommendations regarding erosion control methods and techniques. Renee is currently working on a project to map invasive plant species in the area, with an emphasis on Phragmites, Knotweed, and Swallow-wort, which are all plants that displace native plants and animals.

The Conservation Specialist position is a result of the passage of a conservation millage last summer. The millage will also provide for a Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day that will take place in the County during the month of September.

Renee tells us that her perfect job, “…would be one in which I can utilize my experience to manage natural resources and foster a sense of place with individuals that visit [our area].” We are pleased to have Renee on board at the District office to provide conservation information and assistance to the residents of Kalkaska County. Welcome, Renee!

To schedule an appointment for Renee to visit your property, please contact the Kalkaska Conservation District at (231) 258-3307, or visit the office at 406 South Cedar St, Suite A, located between the Post Office and the stoplight on 3rd Street in downtown Kalkaska.