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Archive | November, 2019

50th Anniversary


WESLEY & LINDA FOSTER

Wesley and Linda Foster, of Rockford, are celebrating 50 years of marriage. Wesley grew up in central New York state, and Linda was raised in northern Michigan. Wes and Linda met at Oakdale Christian High School near Jackson, Ky in 1966. The couple married on December 6, 1969 in Greenville, Mi, where they raised their 5 children, before fulfilling their dream of living in the countryside of NE Cannon Township, where they have spent the last 15 years. They also lived in Cedar Springs in their early years of marriage. The Fosters are grandparents of 10, with their first great-grandchild due in January. Cards of congratulations are welcome at: 9525 Fricke Dr. NE Rockford, MI 49341.

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Memorial Service for PETE CHRISTENSEN


A memorial service and luncheon for Pete Christensen will be held on Friday, December 6th from 2 to 5 p.m. at the American Legion Glen Hill Post, 91 First St., Cedar Springs. Come celebrate Pete’s life with his family and friends.

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BERNARD FISK


Bernard (Bernie) Edward Fisk, 80, has crossed the finish line on Friday, November 22, 2019. He was born January 22, 1939 to Edward and Ada (Hawley) Fisk in his grandfather’s Stone House, near Fisk Knob in Solon Township, Kent County, Michigan. He was blessed to be raised surrounded by an enormous amount of extended family. He was the oldest of 9 children. The family enterprises were farming, lumber and horses. He loved the horses. He jockeyed at the local Rogue River race track until he grew too tall. He graduated in 8th grade. He served in the Army between the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He drove and cooked for the base General who wanted him to reenlist but he chose to return home. While living in a boarding house in downtown Grand Rapids he met his first wife, Theron. They moved to Greater Sacramento, California, got married and started their family. It was in California that he got his Farrier license. After 5 years of marriage and 2 daughters they divorced and 2 years later he moved to Southern California where he worked the California Race Track circuit for over 30 years. Bay Meadows, Hollywood Park, Santa Anita, Del Mar but predominantly Los Alamitos Race Course. He was on a first name basis with many of the great names of racing during the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. At the end of his shoeing career he worked in the Los Alamitos race track receiving barn as the Shoe Inspector. In 1991, he sent his “Famous Race Track Dog,” Heidi, to be buried in the front yard of the Stone House. In 1997 he returned to the Stone House in Solon Township and began breeding American Quarter Horse race horses. As a Trainer/Breeder, he entered horses to race at Great Lake Downs, Mount Pleasant Meadows and Hazel Park. He enjoyed visiting with family and keeping in touch with his many friends throughout the country. He is survived by his daughters and their husbands, Sara Lyn (Tom) Thornton, Emily Ann (Chris) Scott; grandchildren, Tommy (Inge), Austin, Judson (MaryBeth), Daniel, Kristal, and Rayna; great-grandchildren, Carson and Aidyn; siblings, June (Eddie) Ingerson, Ron (Ila) Fisk, Don (Dee) Fisk, Susie Veltkamp, Bucky (Linda) Fisk, Mike (Carol) Fisk; many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. He was preceded in death by his father, beloved mother; little brother, Larry Fisk; brother-in-law, Kenny Veltkamp; sister, Patsy Kroes. Special thanks to his care providers at Metron of Cedar Springs and Metron of Belding. The service was held Tuesday, November 26 at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs. Interment at Solon Cemetery. Memorials may be made to the American Quarterhorse Association.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs.

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In Loving Memory of Patricia Marsh



Feb. 6, 1948 – Nov. 30, 2017

When a loved one passes on,

Their spirit never dies.

And as we journey alone,

They’re always by our side.

Yes I believe this happens

From little things I see.

Each day a little message

An angel reveals to me.

A whisper of the breeze

On a quiet summer’s day

Is a voice from an angel

Who sadly passed away.

The gently falling rain

That lingers upon my face,

Are tears falling from heaven

From a wife I can never replace.

The first snowflakes of winter

Are an angel’s frozen tears.

Are a reminder of the love we shared

Telling me you are near.

A falling leaf in autumn

Is just another sign

To let me know you’re watching me

And I’m still on your mind.

Yes, all these little signs,

They help me to believe

That death is not the end

And you’re still here with me.

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Christmas Coloring Contest 2019

Hurry deadline is MONDAY by 5pm!

Hey kids, 

It’s time for our annual Christmas Coloring Contest and your chance to win one of three $50 gift cards, one for each age group. Winners choose their own prize and get what they really want!

Please click here to download and color the picture above with crayons, markers or colored pencils. Our judges will choose the three winners – one from each age group: 4-5 years, 6-7 years; and 8-10 years.

Good luck and remember to be creative but follow the rules! Please no help from parents or older siblings/helpers.

Rules: 

1. Only one entry per child. 

2. Only one winner per family. 

3. We are not responsible for lost mail. 

4. All entries must be at our office by December 17 5. Use only crayons, markers or colored pencils.

Winners will be announced in the December 19th issue of The Cedar Springs Post. Don’t delay, get your entry in as soon as possible – deadline is Monday, December 16 by 5:00 p.m. but we’d like to display your entry on our windows throughout the month. Our office hours are 10am to 5pm Monday-Thursday, and 10am to 2pm on Fridays. We’re closed this Thursday & Friday for the Thanksgiving Holiday. 

Please deliver entries to: 

36 E. Maple St., Cedar Springs.

Or mail to: Christmas Coloring Contest

P.O. Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319

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Holiday happenings


Check out some of the fun, family activities going on in the area for the holiday season.

CEDAR SPRINGS

Dec.5: Cedar Springs Mingle and Shop Late  (see event on Facebook). Participating businesses will be open until 8 p.m. with added attractions from 5-8 p.m. Specials, refreshments, entertainment, drawings/giveaways, caroling, and more.

Dec.7: A Cedar Springs Christmas “Mingle with Kris Kringle”

9-noon: A day of Christmas in Cedar Springs on December 7 will start with the Cedar Springs Public Library hosting their Annual Holiday Open House: Winter Wonderland A Frozen Adventure on Saturday, December 7, from 9 a.m.-12 p.m.  Join Anna and Elsa for storytime occurring every 20 minutes throughout the event, take pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus, make ornaments/crafts/Christmas cards, decorate cookies, check out the Friends of the Library bake sale and more. All ages are welcome to attend and everything is free. Join us for some great family fun as we enter into the holiday season!  

12-2 p.m.: Christmas Cookie Decorating at The Rustic Roof with the Rustic Roof and City Impact. 

2-3 p.m.: Story Time with Mrs. Claus at Perry’s Placellc for herbs, teas, and more…

3 p.m.: Ornament hanging with High School Cheerleaders at the new Cedar Springs  Christmas Tree in the Heart of Cedar Springs.

4 p.m.: Celebrating Christmas in the Heart of Cedar Springs. Visit the petting barn with Double K Farms, buy some goodies from the Ladies Auxiliary Bake Sale, and sip on some hot chocolate at the Cedar Springs Library, all at 4 p.m.

4 p.m.: Christmas parade line up south end of White Pine Trail Staging Area.

4:30 p.m.: Kris Kringle Parade starting at Cherry Street by the White Pine Trail east to Second Street then North to Maple and west towards staging area 

4:45 p.m.: Nativity Scene Reenactment by Calvary Church in the Heart of Cedar Springs. 

4:50 p.m.: Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.

4:55 p.m.: Mingle with Kris Kringle in the new amphitheater (picture taking and candy canes) directly after tree lighting. There will be Kringle Coloring Activities and Crafts in the Library while waiting to see Santa, directly after tree lighting 

4:55 p.m.: Letters to Santa with the Cedar Springs Post at the Library, directly after tree lighting. 

Dec. 9: A Cedar Springs Christmas Carriage Rides December 9 from 5-8 p.m. Our second year of free carriage rides for the public (first come first served) starting at the White Pine Trail Staging Area. Hot Chocolate and Christmas Caroling/Music.

Dec. 12: Cedar Springs Mingle and Shop Late. Participating businesses will be open until 8 p.m. with added attractions from 5-8 p.m. Specials, Refreshments, Entertainment, Drawings/Giveaways, Caroling, and more.

Dec.14: Annual Kent Theatre Christmas Concert December 3-5 p.m. An annual tradition at the historic Kent Theatre showcasing local musicians live on stage for $3 a person.

Dec.14: Kent Theatre Christmas Karaoke 6-8 p.m. A new event at the historic Kent Theatre set up for a family-friendly time singing Karaoke with friends and family. $5 gets you a ticket in the door with a small drink (with one free refill) and small popcorn (with one free refill) 

Dec.15: Annual Kent Theatre Christmas Dance Extravaganza 3-5 p.m. An annual tradition at the historic Kent Theatre showcasing local dancers live on stage as a family-friendly holiday event for $3 a person.

Dec. 19: Cedar Springs Mingle and Shop Late. Participating businesses will be open until 8 p.m. with added attractions from 5-8 p.m. Specials, Refreshments, Entertainment, Drawings/Giveaways, Caroling, and more.

GREENVILLE

Dec. 6: Come join the fun in downtown Greenville on Friday, December 7. The Santa park party will take place from 4-5:30 p.m. at Lafayette park (210 S. Lafayette). Enjoy holiday treats, games, activities & holiday merriment, then watch while Santa magically lights the Christmas Tree at 5:45 p.m. The parade will start at 6:00 p.m. on Lafayette Street. You won’t want to miss out on all the fun!

Dec. 7: Make a gift. All ages are invited to stop by the Flat River Library anytime between 10 a,m, and 12 p.m. to make some thoughtful and simple gifts this holiday season. There will be several gift ideas for you to make and we’ll even wrap them up for you! 

HOWARD CITY

Dec. 14: Santa and activities 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Timothy C. Hauenstein Reynolds Township Library. Santa will be there so take pictures with him, decorate a cookie and do Christmas Crafts.

2-4 p.m.: Annual Tree Lighting and parade. Come enjoy the festive time of year and enjoy the Village of Howard City’s Annual Tree Lighting ceremony at the Depot by the library. There will be a parade at 2 p.m. down Edgerton Street with Santa Claus making his annual appearance. Join the many downtown businesses who are hosting crafts, enjoy the festive lights, and find out which business will win the decorating contest! There will be something for everyone!

ROCKFORD

Discover a Rockford Christmas 2019. 

Dec. 6: Holiday Lighting Ceremony – Peppler Park on the Dam Overlook, from 5:30-7:00 p.m. Free carriage rides from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Rotary Pavilion.

Dec. 7: Santa Parade – Downtown Rockford from 10:45 am until noon. 

Noon to 2 p.m.: Santa Visits – Rotary Pavilion immediately following the parade. Enjoy free hot cocoa and cookies!

Noon to 2 p.m.: Carriage Rides (FREE) – Rotary Pavilion immediately following the parade.

Dec. 11: Santa Visits and Free Cocoa & Cookies at the Rotary Pavilion from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

6-8 p.m.: Santa’s LIVE Reindeer at the Rotary Pavilion. 

Dec. 12-13: Carriage Rides (FREE) from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Rotary Pavilion.

Dec. 18: Santa Visits and Free Cocoa & Cookies at the Rotary Pavilion from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

6-8 p.m.: Santa’s LIVE Reindeer at the Rotary Pavilion. 

Dec. 19-20: Carriage Rides (FREE) from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Rotary Pavilion.

Dec. 20: Live Nativity – corner of Bridge and Main Streets (Speed Merchants) from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Also enjoy Christmas caroling strolling from Rockford Baptist Church down Bridge Street to Live Nativity.

SAND LAKE

Sand Lake Christmas events 2019.

Dec. 1: Tree lighting and caroling at the SE Corner of the Park (5th & Lake) from 5:30-6:00 p.m. Resurrection Lutheran Preschool will sing some of their Christmas songs and we can all join in with our favorite carols. 

4:30p.m. to 7 p.m.: Come early to Mary Queen of Apostles Hall (5th & Maple) for Children’s Activities & Dinner Fund Raiser. Games, Face Painting, and Sloppy Joe Fund Raiser proceeds to Alpha Center. 

Dec.6-7: Live indoor nativity at United Methodist Church (6th & Maple) from 6-8 p.m. on Dec. 6, and from 1-3 p.m. on Dec. 7. Live animals will greet you. Come inside to see and talk to Shepherds, Soldiers, Town Merchants, Angles, Wise men, Mary Joseph and the Christ child. Enjoy the refreshments and stay a while! 

Dec. 7: Christmas Craft Show at Resurrection Lutheran (180 South 3rd –Northland Dr) from 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. 

Dec. 12: Advent by Candlelight (dinner included) at Mary Queen of Apostles Church from 6-9 p.m. RSVP by Dec. 7 to 616-636-5671 for dinner.

Dec. 13: Christmas bake sale at Independent Bank from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Homemade goodies for your Christmas gatherings or just for your sweet tooth. Offered by United Methodist Women. 

Dec.14: Santa’s coming to town! At the VFW (5th & Lake) 9:30-11:30 a.m. Fun for the whole family. Bring your cameras. Hot Chocolate & Cookies, Crafts, & Prizes. Then from 10 a.m. to noon there will be free Horse Drawn Carriage Ridesat Salisbury Park.

Dec. 21: Gingerbread Lane – Jump into the holiday spirit with some family-friendly festivities starting at 10 a.m. at the Nelson Twp/Sand Lake Branch of KDL (88 Eighth St.). Listen to seasonal music while each child builds their own simple gingerbread house. Pre-registration required.

Dec. 28: Holiday Craft Extravaganza at 10:30 a.m. Create fun, festive holiday crafts! A variety of crafts will allow children of all ages to make something wonderful. Drop in and get creative at the Nelson Twp/Sand Lake Branch of KDL (88 Eighth St., Sand Lake).

Dec. 31: Countdown to Happy Noon-Year starting at 11:30 a.m. We’re giving kids an exciting way to ring in 2020 with a countdown, noisemakers, crafts and fun – at an hour that won’t keep them up way past their bedtimes, at the Nelson Twp/Sand Lake Branch of KDL (88 Eighth St., Sand Lake).

SPARTA

Sparta Christmas Schedule 2019.

Nov. 28: Sparta Turkey Trot at 9:00 a.m. 5K walk/run starts at Sparta Civic Center, 75 N. Union.

Dec. 3: Santa Party – 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. Crafts, snacks, & Santa at Maddy Laroue’s, 126 Division, Sparta.

Dec. 7: Pancake Breakfast $5, 8:30-11:00 a.m. in Sparta Civic Center.

10 a.m.: Christmas Candy Hunt at Rogers Park 

3-5 p.m.: Pet Night with Santa at 80 N. Union. Bring your own camera, pet donations welcome.

Dec. 14: Santa & Mrs. Claus Visit the Library from 10-11 a.m. Cookie decorating & take your photo with Santa at 80 N. Union St.

1-2:30 p.m.: Santa in Santa House – bring your own camera to 80 N. Union.

Dec. 19: Santa in Santa House – bring your own camera to 80 N. Union. 6-7:30 p.m.

Dec. 21: Santa in Santa House – bring your own camera to 80 N. Union. 10:30 to noon. 

Dec. 21, 22, 23: The Living Nativity at Ballard Church of Christ, 6:30-8 p.m.

SPENCER TOWNSHIP

The following events take place at the Kent District Library, Spencer Township Branch at 14960 Meddler Ave NE, Gowen, MI 49326

Dec. 12: Gingerbread Lane – Jump into the holiday spirit with some family-friendly festivities starting at 6:30 p.m. Listen to seasonal music while each child builds their own simple gingerbread house. Pre-registration required.

Dec. 19: Ready for Reindeer and Royal Arrivals – 6:30 p.m. Traveling all the way from the North Pole (via Rooftop Landing Reindeer Farms), live reindeer will be visiting the library. Royal Arrivals princesses Anna and Elsa will also make a guest appearance. Dress warmly and don’t forget your camera!

Jan. 11: Snowflake Studio – Explore winter with your creative side! Drop in between 11:00 AM and noon for snowflake-themed arts and crafts for the whole family.

TYRONE TOWNSHIP

The following events take place at the Kent District Library, Tyrone Township Branch at 43 S. Main St., Kent City, MI 49330 

Dec. 10: Ready for Reindeer! Traveling all the way from the North Pole (via Rooftop Landing Reindeer Farms), live reindeer will be visiting the library at 3:00 p.m. Dress warmly and don’t forget your camera!

Dec. 14: Gingerbread Lane – Jump into the holiday spirit with some family-friendly festivities starting at 11:00 a.m. Listen to seasonal music while each child builds their own simple gingerbread house. Seating is limited; first come, first served. 

Dec. 18: Jingle Mingle Holiday Storytime at 10 a.m. Visit the library for a special holiday storytime. Mingle and make new friends while listening to stories and creating art together.

Dec. 31: Countdown to Happy Noon-Year from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. We’re giving kids an exciting way to ring in 2020 with a countdown, noisemakers, crafts and fun – at an hour that won’t keep them up way past their bedtimes.

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Ask City to opt out of marijuana businesses


Under the leadership of Manager Mike Womack, and invaluable input from City Planner Tim Johnson, Cedar Springs has made great progress in becoming business friendly. We’ve seen old restrictive ordinances changed to encourage business and Main Street filled with new restaurants and beautiful shops as a result. The CBDT has been instrumental in building a library, an amphitheater and parks, creating beautiful spaces for people to enjoy. Homes have been renovated, yards cleaned up and new people are excited to move here. 

It’s taken a lot of hard work to make Cedar Springs a family friendly place to live, work and play. Our City Council holds the power to keep it family friendly, a place where people want to raise a family, to retire and to live in peace and safety. That brings us to a decision they will be asked to make in the near future, whether or not to allow recreational marijuana businesses.

Current rules on recreational marijuana are emergency rules; they are in flux. A popular misconception is that millions of dollars would flow into our city; there is no data supporting that. Will enforcement or medical costs increase for taxpayers to bear? Will more easily accessible product have an impact on safety, on noxious odors, on family relationships, on children? How would it impact the character of our community? Plenty of cities are getting on board, will they live to regret it? Let’s move slowly and see how those cities are affected before taking the “everybody is doing it” attitude.

At the November 15 public forum we were given options on what types of businesses, in which zoning districts, and how many types of each business the City should consider allowing.  The option of completely opting out was missing, therefore, it appeared that allowing marijuana businesses in our fair city was a done deal. It is not. The decision to allow or disallow any such facilities lies with the City Council.

Ask the Council to opt out of allowing recreational marijuana facilities in Cedar Springs by e-mailing City Manager Mike Womack at: manager@cityofcedarsprings.org  

The next public forum will be held on December 12 from 5:30 to 7 p,m, at the Cedar Springs Public Library.

Kathy A. Bremmer

City of Cedar Springs

Post Scripts NOTICE: The Cedar Springs Post welcomes letters of up to 350 words. The subject should be relevant to local readers, and the editor reserves the right to reject letters or edit for clarity, length, good taste, accuracy, and liability concerns. All submissions MUST be accompanied by full name, mailing address and daytime phone number. We use this information to verify the letter’s authenticity. We do not print anonymous letters, or acknowledge letters we do not use. Writers are limited to one letter per month. Email to news@cedarspringspost.com, or send to Post Scripts, Cedar Springs Post, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

* We only print positive letters about candidates one week prior to the election. 

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How do we keep our democracy healthy?


By Lee H. Hamilton, former U.S. Representative

Representative democracy is based on a simple premise. It’s that ordinary citizens can make satisfactory judgments on complex public policy and political issues—or at least grasp them well enough to decide who should be dealing with them.

But the significance of that premise isn’t simple at all. It means that our country’s future depends on the quality of democratic participation by its citizens. Collectively, we have to make discriminating judgments about politicians, policies, and issues. Not just once, but repeatedly and consistently. Moreover, when it comes to improving our own corner of the world, it means there’s no one to depend upon but ourselves.

So, in an era when our democracy appears to be under great stress, what must we do to keep it healthy? Because there are certainly alternatives out there—from out-and-out authoritarianism to the Chinese and Russian models to just plain anarchy—here are some steps I think we need to take.

First, we have to protect our elections. It’s clear that malign actors want to hack them or at least use every means they can to influence them. In the past we tended to assume that our elections were free, fair, and accurate, but we can’t take that for granted any more. This also means ensuring the independence of the judicial branch, which is critical to protecting the integrity of elections against the encroachment of authoritarian-minded leaders and manipulative politicians. We also must protect the media and sources of fair, unbiased information that citizens require when making their judgements about politicians and their policies.

Second, we need to work on expanding our democracy in appropriate ways and on fighting off efforts to restrict the vote. There are all sorts of tools states and localities can use to make voting easier and more convenient; many of these—voting hours, for instance, or the location of polling places—can also be used to make voting more difficult. Plenty of politicians want to handicap or exclude voters they don’t like, and this sort of manipulation of our system is as big a threat to its integrity as outsiders’ attempts to hack it.

Third, keeping money’s role in elections within bounds is crucial. The issue is less top-of-mind than it used to be, perhaps because we’ve become inured to record amounts being spent each election cycle. Money will always have a place in elections, but we need to find ways to keep it from disproportionately affecting voting outcomes and impeding those who don’t have the same access to funds as well-heeled candidates and causes.

This is where organizations that urge their members to turn out to vote come in. They have an important role to play, both in boosting turnout and in building networks focused on democratic participation. They’re all “special interests,” of course, with their own agendas, but that’s what it means to live in a pluralistic society. The more different groups are active, the more diversity you get in office and the better the representation you get for the entire population.

Individual participation also matters, which is why civic education is vital. I don’t think we talk about the achievements of representative democracy enough, or celebrate its heritage, or remind ourselves not to become complacent about what it takes to sustain it. In essence, I think we need always to be mindful about how we teach and encourage people to participate—through efforts to educate and register voters, through citizen-led advocacy, through neighbors getting together to change the speed limit on their road or fight groundwater contamination…It all matters. 

And, of course, we need a robust and independent media, using every available platform, that pushes the idea of democracy and promotes free speech, public dialogue, voting, and all the rest of it. 

When Lincoln wondered at Gettysburg whether a “nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure,” it wasn’t just a rhetorical question. It’s an undecided one, and each generation has to answer it. We are being tested to an unusual degree today, and just because we’ve come through the challenges of days past doesn’t mean we’re destined to now. We need to pay attention and do our part to keep our democracy healthy.

Lee Hamilton is a Senior Advisor for the Indiana University Center on Representative Government; a Distinguished Scholar at the IU Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies; and a Professor of Practice at the IU O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years.

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Opt Outside this Black Friday


These visitors enjoy an outdoor excursion at Island Lake State Recreation Area in Livingston County.

By Emma Kukuk, Michigan Department of Natural Resources

For a lot of people, the day after Thanksgiving often is devoted to laying around on the couch recovering after the big feast, watching college football all day or hunting for the best Black Friday shopping deals.

With the November holiday just days away, the time is right to consider another option, one started by Recreation Equipment, Inc. – the Kent, Washington-based retail and outdoor recreation services company known more commonly as REI.

The company’s #OptOutside campaign launched in 2015 has grown in popularity since. 

The outdoors-focused movement encourages people to spend more time outside, and highlights the benefits of immersing yourself in nature, on Black Friday and all year long.

For the fourth year in a row, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is participating alongside REI in encouraging others to join the #OptOutside movement. 

On Friday, Nov. 29, the DNR will waive the regular Recreation Passport vehicle entry fee providing access to Michigan’s 103 state parks and recreation areas, 138 state forest campgrounds, and state trailheads and boat launches. 

“For anyone who’s been itching to get outdoors or someone who might need a nudge, Black Friday is the perfect day for residents and visitors to explore Michigan’s natural resources,” Ron Olson, chief of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. “From quiet trails to picturesque waterfalls, breathtaking vistas and more, state parks are full of opportunities for fun and reflection.”

While no Recreation Passport is needed, all camping, permit and license fees still apply.

Relax after the holiday

These visitors enjoy an outdoor excursion at Island Lake State Recreation Area in Livingston County.

Deciding to get outside after Thanksgiving Day is about getting some fresh air in the great outdoors, spending valuable time with family and friends and, perhaps most importantly, relaxing. 

“The holiday season can be hectic,” said Maia Turek, DNR Parks and Recreation Division resource development specialist. “This is a good way to stretch your legs, unwind and appreciate the gift of plentiful, scenic outdoor spaces. Michigan has some of the most beautiful destinations and getting outside in the fall and winter creates a completely different recreational experience for all of your senses.”

No matter the season, Michigan’s public lands are treasures to be discovered.

“Give your New Year’s resolutions a head-start by starting over the Thanksgiving holiday,” said Sherry Krause, a certified personal trainer at the Grand Traverse Athletic Club in Traverse City. “After all the extra food and often sedentary visiting, the day after the big feast is a perfect time to start moving.

“An outside walk can help with depression and anxiety, set your circadian rhythm, focus your attention in a quiet way, and of course, give you a big dose of vitamin D. And the big holiday present you receive with all those things – they all promote weight loss.”

Make new traditions, explore the outdoors

Ami Van Antwerp, DNR Parks and Recreation Division communications coordinator, said opting outside is a unique opportunity to explore Michigan’s natural assets.

“Spend a day under one roof, then spend a day under the sky,” she said. “When you think of all the different ways you can enjoy these green spaces, state parks are really like one big outdoor gym with 100-plus locations.”

Once you get outside, there are plenty of activities to choose from:

Hike, run, fat-tire or mountain bike, snowshoe and more on over 13,000 miles of state-designated trails and pathways.

Watch for birds and other wildlife on acres and acres of public lands.

Snowy owls, like this young bird, often arrive in Michigan from northern areas around Thanksgiving, giving birdwatchers a thrill. This bird was photographed in Schoolcraft County.

Discover Michigan’s fascinating backstories by visiting historic sites.

Enjoy some late-season fishing (double-check to be sure your favorite boat launch is open).

Hunt in Michigan’s state parks and recreation areas, state game areas or state forest lands.

Soak in the peace and quiet of Michigan’s natural areas.

Search for a variety of hidden geocaches as part of the State Park Centennial GeoTour.

Capture some gorgeous nature photos with your camera or phone. 

See our Things to Do webpage to learn more about all the different activities you can enjoy when you #OptOutside.

Opting for the outdoors is about more than simply getting outdoors – it’s also a chance to create new traditions. 

“Thanksgiving is all about family gathering around the dinner table,” Turek said. “Adding an #OptOutside component is a simple way to introduce a new activity that can become a tradition with a healthy outcome, too, and one that can create lifelong memories.

“When you have several generations together, there’s nothing like doing something fun outside.”

#OptOutside is one way to extend the Thanksgiving experience and create some magnificent memories.

Quick tips on enjoying, and supporting, the outdoors:

Those who do head outdoors on Black Friday should remember that Michigan’s firearm deer hunting season is in full swing. Keep yourself and your family, friends and pets safe when you’re in the woods by wearing bright colors, being mindful of others outdoors, and remember that dogs at state parks must always be kept on 6-foot leashes.

Want to enjoy and support Michigan’s state parks and recreation areas year-round? The $11 Recreation Passport gives you unlimited vehicle access to state parks, boat launches, state forest campgrounds, trailheads and other attractions. Plus, each purchase helps fund needed maintenance and improvements at state and local parks.

If you’re interested in lending a hand to ensure state parks remain beautiful for future generations, there are plenty of volunteer stewardship workdays throughout the year. Volunteers help with everything from collecting native seeds to pulling invasive weeds to insect monitoring.

This year consider making the Thanksgiving weekend more memorable with an outing in Michigan’s spectacular outdoors. Take a break from holiday shopping and opt outdoors this Black Friday. You’ll likely learn more about yourself and your loved ones and maybe even create a new holiday tradition that will inspire all of you to continue for decades to come.

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Give thanks for environmental protections

Ranger Steve’s Nature Niche

By Ranger Steve Mueller

Environmental protections are insurance for people, our economy, and a sustainable healthy future for present and coming generations. Michigan Audubon’s mission is dedicated to connecting birds and people for the benefit of both. They do this through conservation, education, and research. Their work is not done in a vacuum. When I was a board member, we realized ecosystem nature niches depend on living and nonliving environmental components.

During mid 1800’s and 1900’s, many human activities imperiled the health of US ecosystems supporting our livelihood and imposed life-threatening community conditions. By the 1970’s hard gained protections were implemented. As we close the year, many of those protections are being eliminated by the current US president.

Significant recovery actions for Canada Geese headed for extinction in the early 1900’s resulted in recovery. Bald Eagle recovery is a great success story on two fronts. The Bald Eagle Protection Act established in 1940 prevented indiscriminate shooting of the species. Later protections were established for hawks and other species that eat meat. Laws already protected people from indiscriminate shooting but of course some people ignore the law. People are still shot and eagles are still shot like the recent shooting of a Bald Eagle with the excuse they thought they were shooting a Canada Goose. 

The second event allowing eagle recovery was banning use of DDT and other chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides in the US. Most eagles stay in the US and recovery of nesting pairs increased from 40 to 800. 

The President has removed restrictions on lead shot. Chocolay Raptor Center near Marquette reported lead poisoning cases have doubled. Environmental protection elimination puts eagles at risk and endangers our families. 

Lead has been a known toxin for 2000 years and historians conclude that lead-lined water ducts contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire. President Trump overturned the US lead ban in 2017. People have told me the Flint lead issue is political to benefit nonwhite races and it should not be the responsibility of the community that switched the water source to save money. The result increased community costs and human health decreased. The idea has its supporters and some think it should include eliminating protections from PFAS, air and water pollution. The president is gutting environmental laws that protect people and wildlife despite more than 80 percent of Americans thinking his environmental directives are moving in the wrong direction.

He has overturned protections preventing the dumping of mined mountain tops directly into rivers to make coal mining more economically competitive with alternative energy sources and ignores the dire climate change threat. He is ignoring the drinking water treatment costs, lost fishing opportunities and aquatic life needs.

Removing pollution protection by gutting Air and Water pollution Acts might result in short term financial savings for home heating but will increase long term economic and health costs for people, wildlife, and plants similar to switching the water sources in Flint. I wrote about my first job as an urban forester assigned to revegetate Midland after Dow Chemical killed trees with air pollution. 1970’s air pollution laws required smokestacks have pollution controls. I was commissioned to select trees on Dow property for transfer to replace killed trees. The law reduced air related human health problems, extended lives, and reduced medical expenses.

300 million plus tons of heavy metals, solvents, and toxic sludge are dumped in waters annually. 75% of the planet’s land area has been severely altered by human activity. Ten times more plastic floats in oceans than did in 1980. An estimate states 1 in 8 species are threatened by extinction. 500,000 species do not have adequate land-based habitat for sustainable survival. An important cause is the increase in human population and excessive resource consumption resulting from 3.7 billion people in 1970 increasing to 7.6 billion in 2019. The human population is expected to double rapidly again. Solutions depend on voluntary population control and continued air and water protections from being gutted by the Trump administration.

An oil spill resulted in 11 people being killed and three months of uncontrolled oil release into the Gulf of Mexico with devastating costs to coastal businesses plus untold damage to aquatic life that continues. Public outcry demanded better safety valves to prevent similar events. The decades old Exxon oil spill in Alaska is still killing aquatic life and harming the fishing industry. Trump appointed a former oil industry lobbyist to head interior department environment protection. The result is a plan to roll back oil drilling safety requirements. Trump is committed to erasing Obama presidency protections. 

Our collective memory of past pollution devastation will be relived unless Americans demand staying engaged in the Climate Accord, continued strong bipartisan Air and Water Protection Acts, protection of Federal lands that the current administration wants to sell to private interests with different missions that do not include sustainable protection for national parks, BLM lands or national forests. He does not think US citizens should collectively own public lands and opposes Teddy Roosevelt’s establishment of such. 

Our future and that of children depends on us demanding representatives, senators, and the president work for public benefit. Your actions are important to support your views regarding your future, that of coming human generations and that of wildlife ecosystems we all share. Wildlife survival is a reflection on our own future. We can live like bacteria in a Petri dish consuming food and natural resources in a boom and bust or maintain a sustainable environment and ecosystems that we depend on for survival. 

Today is Thanksgiving. Give thanks for the foresight of bipartisan environmental protections during the last century and expect the same from all current political parties.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

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