Art Sytek was a pioneer in local preservation

Reading the recent feature article in The Alpena News about the local sinkholes and seeing the sign boards that the late Art Sytek built, brought back the time when he was very involved in pioneering the resurrection the sinkholes in this area. Art was all about helping his community and promoting its beautiful natural resources. He was good at raising money and getting folks to help. He hooked up with the Michigan Karst Conservancy at a time when a sinkhole in Northeast Michigan was somewhere to dump your garbage.

  • With their help, Rane Curl in particular, Art proceeded to research and identify sinkholes,faults and cracks. He made trails, parking areas and put up signs so people could visit these formations. ?He also organized two extensive operations that involved cranes to remove the years of accumulated trash: cars, refrigerators, etc. Later biologist Bob Preston would study the unique flora and fauna of the sinkhole habitat.

For those of you who never met Art, he was a very active member of the Thunder Bay River Watershed Council. He worked with the DNR Fisheries to establish the James Farm Walleye rearing pond, and raised money and organized the canoe races for many years. The once eroding access to the river on Bagley St. became a pleasant park, boat launch and fishing site through his efforts.

Thanks to Art Sytek and the Michigan Karst Conservancy, the preservation and promotion of one of the natural features of interest in our area happened. Educating the public about karst and how it is important in land use planning not just a tourist attraction, also came about at this time.

Thunder Bay River

Watershed Council members

Jim Zavislak, Barb and Jerry Meek, Blanch MacNall, Elizabeth Littler