Lakeview High School senior applies for, receives DNR grant

By Meghan Nelson • Last Updated 11:35 am on Friday, February 03, 2017

Lakeview Community Schools owns 80 acres of woods in Altona, which school staff and students haven’t used much in the past. They are planning on taking more field trips to the property thanks to a Wheels-to-Woods grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. — Daily News/Meghan Nelson

LAKEVIEW — Harley Kahl, 17,  has been interested in the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) from a young age.

The Lakeview High School senior has participated and continues to participate in DNR programs, and he plans on attending Lake Superior State University to double major in criminal justice law enforcement and criminal justice homeland security with the possibility of becoming a DNR officer.

Lakeview High School senior Harley Kahl, 17, points to the location of Lakeview Community Schools property in Altona. Kahl applied for a grant through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to fund school visits to the property. — Daily News/Meghan Nelson

But while he’s still in high school, Kahl is working with the DNR to improve an 80-acre property near Altona, just south of Canadian Lakes, for Lakeview Community Schools to utilize.

Kahl signed up for Dan Willison’s high school leadership class, which requires students to complete an initiative.

“Mr. Willison said the school has 80 acres that’s not being utilized, and he said something about Wheels-to-Woods as a possible grant. I was like, ‘Wow, I could do that,’” Kahl said. “I went up to the property, saw what could be done and applied.”

The land, which includes pine woods, a swamp wood and a creek, was deeded to the school around 1950. According to Willison, an initial planting was done on the property around 30 or 40 years ago, but not much had been done since then.

Last fall, Doyle Forest Products, a logging company from Paris, Michigan, did a managed cut of the property. The cut took out a portion of the trees to create a healthier forest for the remaining trees.

Kahl looked at the property with Doyle Forest Products owner Joe Doyle, Lakeview High School Principal Tom Wilcox, Facilities Director Daniel Kain and the Maintenance Department’s Jason Waite to consider potential management and utilization options for the property.

Last fall, Doyle Forest Products, a logging company from Paris, Michigan, completed a managed cut at Lakeview Community Schools’ 80-acre property in Altona. In the spring, the school is planning to replant 4,000 red pines. — Daily News/Meghan Nelson

“What we’re hoping is it becomes much more vigorously utilized for education purposes and for forestry,” Willison said. “We want to make it economically viable and continue to replenish what we take. It is possible to have good economics and good environment. They’re not mutually exclusive.”

Seeing the property and having a vision for how it could be used, Kahl decided to apply for a Wheels-to-Woods grant. He sent out questionnaires to Lakeview teachers asking if they would be interested in taking a trip to the property.

“Most of the teachers said yes,” Kahl said. “The only people that really said no were those who taught a subject that wasn’t involved, and even some of those said yes it would be cool and they could work it in.”

All the school district’s science teachers said they would be interested, as well as art teachers and seventh grade wood shop teacher Trevor Morgan. Kahl added up the costs of taking five trips with 300 students and asked for the amount necessary to accomplish that.

The Wheels-to-Woods grant pays for busing, chaperones and additional costs like food and instructors. Kahl and the school district were awarded the grant, and the DNR offered additional funding if they went over.

Kahl, Doyle and school officials are also working on a stewardship program to create a plan to maintain the property over the next 40 to 50 years. Part of that stewardship will be planting 4,000 red pines, which the DNR donated, this spring.

“(The program) is not just for getting the kids up there,” Willison said, “it’s also to help develop the stewardship of the property, which is the maintenance of a healthy forest that will benefit all the animals that live there, all the plants that live there, and will become a viable, useful economic source for the school district as well.”

Kahl hopes to have the replanting field trip become an annual event, and even though he will leave for Lake Superior State University in August, he hopes the event continues and he can come back to be a part of it.

“I’d like to be part of the planning as much as possible in coming years,” Kahl said. “I won’t be here to work on it myself, so someone will have to take it up, whether that be a student or a teacher.”

Willson commended Kahl on a job well done and said his initiative, along with others students, did a great job with their initiatives.

“Hopefully, a lot of other schools who have property and see this story will have students who want to spearhead something similar,” Willison said. “I’m sure it will pay dividends for (Kahl), and I’m sure it will pay dividends for the school in the future.”

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