By Ranger Steve Mueller
It is a wonderful time of year to experience diversity at a of variety nature locations. Your yard is a great place to start. Diversity of life is limited in yards unless they maintain space for native plants and associated animals.
Community opportunities provide connections with things wild and natural with diverse emphasis. They exist because community members value and support them. Local wonderful diverse places meet multifaceted interests for people. Some places are mostly wild with limited accommodations for people while others are hardly wild where the plants and animals require constant care to survive such as the Fredrick Meijer Gardens for plants or the John Ball Zoo for animals. Wild and cultivated places offer their own greatness.
The Rogue River, Cannonsburg, and Allegan State Game Areas have large wild areas that support plants and animals in a native landscape with minimal human accommodations. The North Country hiking trail traverses and one can listen in quiet solitude to hear one’s own heart or the melodies sung by plants and animals. The squeak of a flexing tree, the rubbing growl of branches against one another on a breezy day, or the hidden chewing on inner tree bark by beetle larvae expresses the presence of life in the forest.
During the year, people hunt morels, blueberries, rabbits, fish, ducks, or deer for meals. Others seek photographs, birds, butterflies, and wildflowers. Hiking the wild is a favorite. Hunting license purchases allows for the existence of the game areas. Tree harvest is managed to help desired wildlife thrive and it supports local economies.
Places like the Howard Christensen Nature Center maintain trails, boardwalks, toilets, water, camping, museum displays of birds, mammals, insects, mounted herbarium plants and twig collections for education and recreation. The library includes resources about organisms, geology, weather and climate. Membership and donation support is essential. Visit the wonderful facility to learn and join the effort. HCNC has one of the most extensive collections of birds and mammals for visitors and school group study. As this year succumbs, consider making the coming year’s programs possible by purchasing a membership or donate to support school programming. Be a champion for your school district that connects teachers, students, and nature at HCNC. The nature center is unique by being isolated in a wilder area than other nature education facilities in Michigan.
The wonderful Blandford Nature Center is a vestige of wild surrounded by urban development. It is more easily accessible for massive human influx and provides connections for people with native plants and animals. Rescued wildlife that cannot survive if released allow us to see creatures that most do not otherwise experience. Membership and donations are required for the facility to thrive.
Luten, Long Lake, and Millennium County Parks provide different degrees of diversity and preservation. Many enjoy Luten Park for the thrill of its mountain biking trails while others discover nature niches in the native prairie.
The Land Conservancy of West Michigan establishes preserves to ensure natural areas maintain the biological and physical environment that allowed settlers to colonize, live and prosper in West Michigan.
Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary manages for the greatest native plant and animal diversity. Human visitors are welcome to study the diversity of life and unique rare species such as the federally threatened American Chestnut. College interns study plants with a high co-efficient for conservancy for preservation and conservation groups like the Michigan Botanical Club visit. The site is a “Birding Hotspot” for ebirders.
Bunker Interpretive Center, Wittenbach/Wege Center, GR Audubon’s Maher Preserve, and others are sites worthy of financial support. Support is requested for maintaining a diversity of natural areas locally. Contact the sites to provide essential support in your local community financially or by volunteering.
Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at email@example.com – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.