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DNR marks progress in pheasant restoration

A male, in the background, and female ring-necked pheasants are shown. The species was introduced to the United States from Asia in the late 19th century.

A male, in the background, and female ring-necked pheasants are shown. The species was introduced to the United States from Asia in the late 19th century.

A few years ago, when the Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced it was putting together a coalition to rehabilitate pheasant hunting in Michigan, it assembled an impressive array of partners to address many of the problems that led to the declining fortunes of “ringnecks.”

Now, halfway through the 10-year project, those involved in the Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative say the program has made significant headway.

“We are seeing enhanced partnerships, excellent teamwork, habitat improvements and increased enthusiasm for pheasants and pheasant hunting,” said Al Stewart, the DNR’s upland game bird specialist.

About a dozen volunteers from the Lenawee County chapter of Pheasants Forever recently showed up to work with Michigan Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation Division staff to take out an overgrown fence row between two grassy fields at the Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The goal is to create a large block of land that will be more hospitable to not only pheasants, but other grasslands residents as well. Pheasants Forever member Ken Parts helps clear a fence line in between two large grass fields.

About a dozen volunteers from the Lenawee County chapter of Pheasants Forever recently showed up to work with Michigan Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation Division staff to take out an overgrown fence row between two grassy fields at the Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The goal is to create a large block of land that will be more hospitable to not only pheasants, but other grasslands residents as well. Pheasants Forever member Ken Parts helps clear a fence line in between two large grass fields.

The coalition began the pheasant initiative by establishing three pilot focus areas, concentrating efforts in areas that offer some of the best remaining pheasant habitat in the state.

These priority Pheasant Recovery Areas each have three counties and are situated in the “Thumb Area” (Huron, Tuscola and Sanilac counties), central Michigan (Gratiot, Saginaw and Clinton counties) and southeastern Michigan (Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties).

Since the “golden days” of Michigan pheasant hunting in the 1950s, changes in agricultural practices and land use have contributed to pheasant habitat loss, declining food sources and lower production of chicks.

Over the first five years of the Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative, the DNR has enhanced or restored roughly 7,400 acres of grasslands on state game, wildlife and recreation areas and established 3,160 acres of food plots.

Another 556 acres of enhanced grasslands and 203 acres of food plots have been cultivated around the Sharonville State Game Area, just to the north of the Hillsdale-Lenawee-Monroe focus area.

In addition, the DNR has acquired 742 acres to add to existing game areas within the Pheasant Recovery Areas. There have also been 765 acres of grasslands and 2,000 acres of food plots established at the Allegan State Game Area, which is located outside the existing focus areas.

“Things are really starting to happen,” Stewart said.

However, those significant improvements on state-managed land represent only one small part of the equation, as most of the state’s prime pheasant range—located in southern Michigan—is privately owned.

To address this, the initiative has helped establish cooperatives and hired a co-ops coordinator in the focus areas so private landowners can meet with other like-minded individuals to help improve habitat for pheasants across the landscape.

The DNR has funded five conservation district Farm Bill biologists, with more to come, to assist private landowners in habitat improvement projects. The money for the biologists was raised from the DNR’s recent license restructuring.

Jason Myers, a Farm Bill biologist who covers four counties working out of the Tuscola Conservation District, says 80 percent of his efforts are directed toward pheasant restoration projects.

He said much of his work involves finding cost-share programs for landowners and providing technical assistance for managing Conservation Reserve Program and Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program lands.

Under these two federal Farm Bill programs, farmland is removed from production in exchange for annual rental payments with the lands improved for conservation or environmental quality enhancements.

“I do a lot of habitat plans for guys,” Myers said. “We’re kind of like therapists in a way—kind of hold their hands through the process and make sure they do it right. I spend a lot of time visiting CRP and CREP lands to help landowners maintain them in the shape their supposed to be in.”

The work is paying off, he said.

“A couple of guys in the pheasant cooperatives have said they wouldn’t have done what they’ve done in the last few years if it wasn’t for the initiative,” Myers said. “Tuscola County had about 200 CRP and CREP contracts when I started. About 190 of them have re-enrolled and about half of those have added acreage.”

Bill Vander Zouwen is the Michigan Region representative for Pheasants Forever, a group dedicated to conservation of pheasants, quail and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public awareness, education and land management policies and programs.

Vander Zouwen was a biologist and chief of the wildlife ecology section of the Wisconsin DNR for more than 30 years before returning to Michigan.

He praised the cooperation between agencies and hunters under the pheasant initiative.

“I’m impressed with the attention pheasants are getting and I’m happy to see it,” he said. “Pheasants are a priority of the DNR, a focus of the More Bang for Your Buck program. The DNR has really stepped up.”

Pheasants Forever has 30 active chapters in Michigan and focuses most of its attention on private land, dispensing seed for food plots to its members, though Vander Zouwen said “about 15 chapters put their money up for matching grants from the DNR to improve habitat on public land where anyone can hunt.”

The DNR has awarded State Wildlife Grants totaling more than $850,000 to benefit 49 projects that include almost 3,000 acres of grassland complexes.

Beyond the DNR and Pheasants Forever, other members of the Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative coalition include the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the National Wild Turkey Federation, the Quality Deer Management Association, Ducks Unlimited, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

These additional government and nongovernmental entities often focus on other priorities, but they value grasslands for everything from biodiversity to improving water quality.

“Doing work for pheasants is central for wildlife on the ground,” Myers said. “It helps everything from songbirds to white-tailed deer.”

And, of course, it helps pheasants.

Cooperative landowners say they’re hearing more crowing pheasant roosters in recent years, and some hunters report seeing more pheasants on state-managed land.

Despite these advances, much of the effort of the pheasant initiative has yet to bear fruit, but members say the seeds have been sown for the future.

“The coalition is committed to an even more productive next five years,” Vander Zouwen said.

To learn more about upland game bird hunting in Michigan, visit the DNR’s Web page www.michigan.gov/dnr.

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Girls Talk program gives back to school, younger students

7th Graders (left to right) Willow Sidlauskas, Sophyna Ross help clean and change out seasonal clothes at the Alpha Women’s Center in Cedar Springs.

7th Graders (left to right) Willow Sidlauskas, Sophyna Ross help clean and change out seasonal clothes at the Alpha Women’s Center in Cedar Springs.

Creative Technologies Academy’s Girl Talk is an after school mentoring program in which high school girls mentor middle school girls.

The group meets 2-3 times per month after school and have activities that foster discussion of topics that impact the everyday lives of these girls – all of which is coached and moderated by the middle school math teacher, Ms. Liscombe.

Some topics covered include: being a good friend, being true to yourself, “Downplay the Drama”, positive body image, and many more!

Autumn Shelagowski (11th grade), Destiny Batchelder (8th grade), Ashley Shelagowski (8th grade) work in library.

Autumn Shelagowski (11th grade), Destiny Batchelder (8th grade), Ashley Shelagowski (8th grade) work in library.

They also participate in various service projects throughout the school year to give back to the local community.

For the past two years, they have participated in service projects for the Alpha Family Center and the Cedar Springs Library. At Alpha, they have done a variety of activities including: changing out seasonal clothing, cleaning and organizing, and stuffing envelopes.

At the Library, the group has helped clean and reorganize book shelves.

Cleaning and reorganizing aren’t always the most exciting tasks for teenagers, but the girls are able to build teamwork and cooperation skills in a fun way by giving back to their own community.

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Winter wonderland

Post photo by L. Allen.

Post photo by L. Allen.

The unusually warm weather we had in December left some feeling (or hoping) that winter would never come. But now that it’s January, winter weather warnings and advisories, with blowing snow and windchills below zero, have shown us that we are firmly in the grip of winter. No matter how cold it is, it can still be beautiful, as you can see in this photo.

Do you have photos of winter nature scenes or winter fun you can send us? We’d like to see your landscapes, snowmen and other fun activities. Email them to news@cedarspringspost.com.

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Former Johnson Lumber property to be site of community building

This map shows the land dedicated to developing the heart of Cedar Springs. The parcels outlined in green belong to the CBDT, and the parcel outlined in blue belongs to the city, but will be developed by the CBDT. The area in red is the White Pine Trail.

This map shows the land dedicated to developing the heart of Cedar Springs. The parcels outlined in green belong to the CBDT, and the parcel outlined in blue belongs to the city, but will be developed by the CBDT. The area in red is the White Pine Trail.

Plans by the Community Building Development Team to build up “the heart of Cedar Springs” in the area of Main and Maple Streets are coming together, and the latest involves a new community building.

“Over the last three years, an enormous amount of discussion and collaboration between the City Council, Planning Commission, Library Board, Solon Township, Chamber of Commerce, North County Trail and White Pine Trail Boards, and the Community Building Development Team (CBDT) members have taken place,” according to CBDT Chairman Kurt Mabie. “The focus thus far has been on gathering input and guidance from all supporting governmental units, community groups, businesses, and residents so that a comprehensive plan could be developed that will best serve our community residents for years to come. Our new year begins with some significant announcements.”

CS Manufacturing has made the final transfer of ownership for the property to the west of the White Pine Trail at the end of Maple Street, to the CBDT. The property was purchased by CS Manufacturing a year ago with the express purpose of transferring ownership of a large portion of it to the CBDT for use in construction of a new Community Building.

Plans for a new Community Building nestled up next to the Creek, are in the works for this perfect piece of property. Between the new Library, Amphitheater, Boardwalk, and Community Building, a vibrant “Heart” of Cedar Springs is becoming a reality.

To complement this beautiful gift from CS Manufacturing to our wonderful city through the CBDT, the CBDT has purchased two more lots at a reduced price through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Sommer, along with assistance from realtor Leon Stout. This additional property will be used to fulfill the CBDT mission to, “incorporate natural features and enhance characteristics that already define our community while assisting in the construction of buildings and spaces where the greater Cedar Springs community can gather for cultural, educational, recreational, commercial and family/community events.”  These lots are both to the north of Cedar Creek, one with frontage on Pine Street and bordering the White Pine Trail to the Creek, and the second behind the most recent purchase, 157 Main Street, up to the White Pine Trail.

Approximately 6 acres of land has now been donated and/or purchased by the CBDT. These pieces are adjoining to the city owned property on the northwest corner of Main and Maple Streets. All properties will be used to serve and benefit the citizens of the greater Cedar Springs community.

“On behalf of the CBDT, I would like to particularly thank our city council and staff for their countless hours of hard work in bringing this community together and leading the way in making our community the best it can be!” continued Mabie. “The council’s leadership in promoting unity and providing quality services continues to pave the path for significant growth and improvements within our community.”

The CBDT is a non-profit 501c3 organization comprised of community volunteers. “All community members’ ideas and input are needed. Please help shape the future of Cedar Springs by attending meetings and getting involved,” said Mabie. The group meets on the third Tuesday of each month in the Board Room of Hilltop School at 6 pm. The next meeting is January 19 and everyone is welcome.

More information can be found at www.cscommunitycenter.org or like Cedar Springs Community Building Development Team on Facebook.

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Kent County offering free radon test kits

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You can’t see, smell or taste radon but the radioactive gas can kill. Next to smoking, radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, claiming the lives of more than 20,000 Americans every year, according to the U.S. Surgeon General.

The Kent County Health Department (KCHD) recommends that all homes should be tested for radon every few years. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated January as national Radon Action Month, a perfect time for you to protect your family by testing your home. Testing is the only way to know if radon is present in your home.

N-Radon2While supplies last, KCHD is offering free radon test kits to Kent County residents. “Testing for radon is an easy and important step in protecting the health of your family,” says Sara Simmonds, supervising sanitarian with the Kent County Health Department. “The kit is easy to use. Simply hang a filter inside your house for a few days, then send it in a self-addressed, pre-stamped envelope for testing.”

Residents using the kits and the State of Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality will both receive the results. Residents can use the information when deciding on how best to pursue remediation, and the state gains a better understanding of the locations and prevalence of radon in Michigan. For help understanding the test results, please contact the KCHD Environmental Health Division at 616-632-6900.

Radon occurs naturally in the ground. It seeps into buildings through cracks or openings in the foundation of floors and walls, around sump openings, or spaces around plumbing. It occurs in both new and old homes. Radon has been found in houses built over a basement, over a crawlspace or built on slab-on-grade. The EPA and the U.S. Geological Survey have developed a map of risk zones for the United States. You can view the risk maps by going online to http://www.epa.gov/radon/find-information-about-local-radon-zones-and-radon-programs#radonmap. Kent County is typically categorized as having a moderate to high levels of radon.

The kits are available Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. at the:

  • Kent County Health Department, 700 Fuller Avenue NE, Grand Rapids KCHD
  • North County Clinic at 4388 14 Mile Road NE, Rockford
  • KCHD South Clinic at 4700 Kalamazoo SE, Kentwood

Only one kit will be given per household.

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Debunking detox with 5 easy fixes

HEA-Debunking-detox-myths1

(BPT) – Lots of things in life create messes that need to be cleaned up – even in our bodies. Think of a playroom after a long day of family fun – toys and games strewed about the room, which if not tidied, we often end up tripping over. The same holds true for our bodies. After a holiday season of overeating and overindulging, our bodies need straightening up to function at their best, otherwise our digestive system becomes cluttered with toxins. And with cold and flu season in full swing, a body clean up will not only help to improve your digestive system, but it may also help boost your immune system as well.

The goal of detoxing is to eliminate toxins in the body. Toxins are unusable products resulting from the metabolism of nutrients, pollutants, pesticides, food additives, medical drugs and alcohol. A true detox doesn’t require fasting or flushing your colon clean, instead it’s finding ways to boost your body’s own natural detoxification system to rid itself of harmful toxins. Just follow these five easy detox fixes from Registered Dietitian Ashley Koff to clean-up your diet and your health:

Eat organic. Reduce the toxins you take in by choosing organic foods that contain no artificial ingredients or synthetic preservatives and are GMO-free. Jumpstart your day with delicious Nature’s Path Flax Plus(R) Pumpkin Flax Granola that is rich in flax seeds and high in fiber.

Power up with plants. Phyto (plant) nutrients such as antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables, spices, whole grains, nuts and seeds create your bodies clean up team. Eat more and let them naturally help clean up your digestive system.

Follow the rainbow. Variety is essential to a healthy diet, and it is important to add a rainbow of colorful, spices and blends of grains, seeds and nuts to your diet.

Find fiber. In order to eliminate toxins through our body’s digestive tract, we need to eat foods rich in fiber and nourish good bacteria it is also important to choose foods that contain nutrients like magnesium that support healthy motility of the digestive tract and bitter herbs which help stimulate the digestive tract.

Nourish with nutrients. Our internal detoxification system needs the right nutrients to nourish our bodies. Add healthy and good-for-you foods such as, broccoli, garlic, leeks, sesame seeds, greens and beans to your diet to boost your energy level and cleanse your body at the same time.

Finally, detox foods can be delicious as they are nutritious. Check out this fiber-rich recipe that is sure to have your friends and family asking for seconds.

Roasted Squash with Crunchy Pumpkin Topping

Roasted Squash with Crunchy Pumpkin Topping

Roasted Squash with Crunchy Pumpkin Topping

Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 40 minutes Total Time: 1 hour

Serves 6

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Nature’s Path Flax Plus(R) Pumpkin Flax Granola

1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper

1 large butternut squash (about 3 lb.), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes

2 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

Mix together Pumpkin Flax Granola, bread crumbs, 2 tablespoons coconut oil, ¼ teaspoon each pumpkin pie spice, salt and pepper.

Spread evenly on baking sheet; bake for 6 or 7 minutes or until mixture is crisp and golden brown.

Toss together squash, brown sugar, thyme, and remaining pumpkin pie spice, salt and pepper; arrange on prepared baking sheet.

Roast for 30 to 35 minutes or until fork-tender and lightly browned.

Arrange squash on platter and top with granola mixture.

Tip: To make fresh bread crumbs, pulse day-old bread in a food processor until it resembles coarse crumbs; store in airtight container in the freezer for up to one month.

Nutrition Facts, per 1/6 recipe

Calories 240

Fat 11 g

Cholesterol 0 mg

Sodium 240 mg

Carbohydrate 33 g

Fiber 5 g

Sugars 9 g

Protein 3 g

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Cedar suffers tough losses to Lowell and Wyoming

S-Basketball-boys

Defense continues to improve

By Rebekah Cronk

On Tuesday, January 5, the varsity basketball game had fans on the edge of their seats as Cedar Springs went head to head with Lowell.

“Lowell is one of the better teams in the area this season. We battled with them throughout the game,” said Cedar Springs varsity basketball coach Jeff Patin.

The Red Hawks lost against Lowell with an ending score of 73-58. The game was close and the basketball team definitely gave the Arrows a run for their money.

“We played Lowell last year in the regular season and the districts, unfortunately, [we lost] both times. Their program has improved much in the last several years,” said Patin.

Although Cedar Springs suffered a loss at Lowell, there were some highlights throughout the game. Jameson Pavelka led the team with 17 points, and Taylor VanDyke added 14 points and 12 rebounds. The Cedar Springs varsity basketball team has not won against Lowell the last few times they played against them, but their losses against the team will not hinder their hopes for the next time they take them on.

The Cedar Springs varsity basketball team also battled it out with Wyoming on Friday, January 8.

“It was our first league game and we wanted to come out with a good start. We didn’t play particularly well in the first half. We were trailing by 9. In the second half, we fought back and took the lead midway through the fourth quarter. From that point, the game was back and forth,” said Patin.

Unfortunately, the Red Hawks lost that night against Wyoming with a final score of 69-66.

“Losing on Friday is a minor setback for us, but we’ll keep focusing on the areas we need to improve,” said Patin.

It wasn’t the strongest week for the varsity basketball team, but they’re taking the losses against Lowell and Wyoming and spinning something positive out of it.

“Our defense has continued to improve. We will [continue] to work in all areas as we approach the midpoint of the season,” said Patin.

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Red Hawks take two at Tri Conference

Red Hawk Jordan Andrus (130 lbs) was one of several Cedar Springs wrestlers that went undefeated last Wednesday. Photo by B. Chong.

Red Hawk Jordan Andrus (130 lbs) was one of several Cedar Springs wrestlers that went undefeated last Wednesday. Photo by B. Chong.

By Barbra Chong

Cedar Springs High School Wrestling traveled to Comstock Park last Wednesday, January 6, for a Tri Conference Meet. The evening was a huge success for the Red Hawks. Cedar Springs took on Greenville with a long anticipated win 34-24.This is the first victory against the Jackets since 2003. Next they took on the Panthers of Comstock Park and took another win with a large point advantage of 39-18. This currently puts the Red Hawks 1-0 in the OK Bronze Conference.

Individual records are as follows: Heavy Weight, Patrick Depiazza, 189 lb Ryan Ringler, 160/171 lb Nate Patin, 145/152 lb Lucus Pienton, 140 lb Jacob Galinis, 130 lb Jordan Andrus and 125 Jordan Ringler all went undefeated.

Our 215 lb Chris Shaffer, 171 lb Gage Gardner, 152 lb Anthony Topolski and 112 lb Logan Hull all had one win each, which contributed to the overall team scores.

Some highlights for the Red Hawks: three grapplers are currently ranked on Michigan Grappler, where the best of the best are featured. Featured is our 119 lb Jordan Ringler (Junior) currently ranked #5; 171 lb Ryan Ringler (Freshmen) currently ranked #7; and Heavy Weight Patrick Depiazza (Junior) currently ranked #4 in the State of Michigan.  Depiazza also remains undefeated this season.

“The Cedar boys have become fierce and relentless in their pursuit of the Conference Championship. Their skill, commitment, and team cohesion bloom as a garden in the month of June,” said Head Coach Nick Emery.

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Use Michigan’s parks and trails to realize fitness goals

A group snowshoes through a northern woodland, enjoying a sunny Pure Michigan winter’s day.

A group snowshoes through a northern woodland, enjoying a sunny Pure Michigan winter’s day.

From the Michigan DNR

A week into this new year, many people are working on—or perhaps already struggling to keep—resolutions to get in shape.

While those resolutions often go by the wayside before the first flip of the calendar page, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources suggests a different approach to exercise that might help people stick with a healthier lifestyle beyond a few weeks—combining exercise with family and friends.

This graphic outlines five benefits of exercising outdoors.

This graphic outlines five benefits of exercising outdoors.

“Fitness resolutions come and go each year, but spending quality time with friends and family is no fad. Spending that family time out for a walk can make for a powerful fitness pledge,” said Maia Turek, DNR statewide recreation programmer.

The DNR is encouraging Michigan residents to make 2016 #MiShoeYear and to put on their shoes, skis or skates to get outside and move.

“Whether you are taking the first step toward fitness ever or the first step in a long time, the beginning of the year is when a lot of people kick off healthier lifestyle routines,” Turek said. “When you declare #MiShoeYear, it’s more than just a workout, it’s an adventure. Explore new trails. See new vistas, get to know Michigan while you get fit.”

Calling the idea “a movement for movement,” Turek said many of Michigan’s state parks offer programs featuring outdoor winter activities like hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing—some  even by candlelight or lantern light. Those looking for an outdoor adventure can find nearby events at www.michigan.gov/dnrcalendar.

With more than 100 state parks and thousands of miles of trails in Michigan, there’s also plenty of opportunity for self-guided workouts that explore the great outdoors. Find a new favorite place to run, hike, ski or snowshoe using the DNR’s Recreation Search website, www.michigandnr.com/parksandtrails/

Don’t forget about local and regional parks.

“Michigan has some of the country’s best parks, with endless ways to stay active and spend time with family and community,” said Ann Conklin, chief operating officer for mParks (Michigan Recreation and Park Association). “They’re a convenient and affordable place to get moving and build healthy, active habits.”

The unique advantages of outdoor exercise can make people more likely to stick with a fresh air fitness routine, rather than with a gym.

“There are plenty of reasons to take your workout outside,” Turek said. “Enjoying nature’s scenery will distract from your effort or fatigue, so you’ll work out longer. You’ll burn more calories because the varied terrain of a park or trail helps keep you out of a fitness rut and you’ll be happier—breathing fresh air can create a feeling of euphoria.”

Outdoor fitness also can save money and help manage time.

The DNR’s Recreation Passport—at only $11 per year for access to Michigan workout destinations, including thousands of miles of trails, 102 state parks and 136 state forest campgrounds–could be considered the most affordable gym membership available, with the most locations statewide.

The flexibility of not being confined to class schedules allows outdoor workouts to fit more easily into daily routines. Not to mention, getting outside for some active adventures can make the long Michigan winter a lot more enjoyable.

“Winter is way more fun when you get outdoors and embrace it, instead of wishing it was over. Hiding indoors has never successfully made winter go away, so make the most of it,” said Jacquelyn Baker, communications and marketing manager for mParks. “Michigan is a four-season state, and that’s a great thing. There’s something exhilarating about getting active in winter. Bundle up and breathe some fresh air. Enjoy the picturesque snow and ice.”

Eva Solomon, founder and CEO of Epic Races, agreed.

“Michigan winters are for embracing, not escaping,” Solomon said.

Solomon’s organization is offering a virtual 5K event for those who want some great gear and accountability backing their New Year’s fitness resolution. Register to participate at http://epicraces.com/event/shoe-years-day-virtual-5k/ and a portion of the proceeds will support fitness programs and reforestation efforts in Michigan state parks.

“After the overwhelming response to our Heart MI Run Virtual 5K, we created the Heart MI Snow Virtual 5K. So many people have a 5K run or walk on their bucket lists, but need some extra motivation to begin. Others are worried about feeling out of place at a group event with experienced runners,” Solomon said. “The virtual 5K gave people the opportunity to run, walk, hike, ski or snowshoe their 5K where they want and when they want, and we will reward them by sending them a shirt and medal in the mail.”

Turek said those who exercise outdoors can add to the fun by sharing their adventures on social media using #MiShoeYear.

“State parks, township parks, your neighborhood—wherever it is, just get outside and snap a selfie,” Turek said.

To help fuel up for active outdoor pursuits, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has compiled recipes for nutritious meals using Michigan-grown produce. The recipes, and other healthy, active lifestyle tips for families, are available at michigan.gov/puremichiganfit.

Interested in seeing how fun and easy winter outdoor fitness can be? Watch a video filmed at Muskegon State Park to get tips from Cari Draft with EcoTrek Fitness. The video is part of the “Active Living Through Parks” series, showcasing different forms of outdoor fitness and their benefits through a partnership between the DNR, mParks and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

“Whether you want to shed a few pounds, strengthen your heart or reduce stress, outdoor exercise can get you there,” Turek said. “Grab your friends and family and head outside to take the first step toward being fresh air fit.”

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Auditions for King Klong

ENT-Auditions-kingkong

Actors del Arte Ensemble of West Michigan is holding auditions for King Klong, a giant ape comedy. You can be on stage with a 10-foot gorilla!

Auditions are Tuesday, Jan 26 and Thursday, Jan 28, from 6-8 p.m. at Rockford Reformed Church, 4890 11 Mile Road, Rockford.

Looking for men, women, teens and children of all ages. Call (616) 874-5264 with questions.

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