A First Look at Holly Oaks ORV Park

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) was tasked many years ago with developing an opportunity for off-road vehicle recreation in southeast Michigan, a venture that would also reduce illegal and dangerous riding on utility corridors and railway beds, as well as in parks and on private lands. Oakland County had depleted sand and gravel mines that were unlikely to ever be redeveloped for residential or commercial use because of noise from I-75 and challenging topography. It was a marriage that was meant to be and after years of labor pains, the result will soon emerge as Holly Oaks ORV Park, the first ORV Park in Oakland County.  It will be the second state park in Michigan to be jointly managed by the state and a county parks agency. Continue reading

A Dark Secret of Doll’s Eyes

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

As summer fades, Oakland County woodlands and meadows present new opportunities to forage from Mother Nature’s pantry. I look forward to many of our seasonal treats, especially the prized and often hard to find oyster mushrooms, the far more bountiful blackberries, wild grapes, elderberries and black walnuts. The delectable tubers of Jerusalem artichoke, as well as the invasive, but tasty and healthful, berries of autumn olive are other seasonal favorites of mine. Continue reading

When Thunder Roars!

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The sultry days of summer have faded, but the season of powerful electrical storms is not over in Oakland County, or for the rest of our Great Lake State. Nature’s way does not always follow the calendar and in the last few weeks I’ve witnessed boaters on our local lakes pursuing their passion as thunder was clearly audible, picnickers waiting out a storm under an open picnic shelter instead of retreating to their cars (a much safer option), and most worrisome, kids playing sports in fields to the accompaniment of not so distant thunder. Continue reading

A Sundew Kind of Morning!

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The Ice Age was coming to an end. Shuffling its 6-ton frame, a shaggy mastodon laboriously crossed a steep esker and trudged towards melt water from a giant block of ice left behind by the Pleistocene Era’s last local retreating glacier. The mastodons that once roamed Oakland County are now extinct, but the glacial evidence of nature’s land sculpting power is unmistakable in many sections of our county. Some of those sites, that once provided habitat for Mastodons, now harbor carnivorous flora and rare secretive creatures. One of those locations is within the Shiawassee Basin Preserve, a 600-acre site in northwestern Oakland County managed by Springfield Township Parks and Recreation. Continue reading

Ten Signs Summer is Fading

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The beauty and wonder of nature’s way as summer slowly fades welcome us to the trails, woodlands, wildlands, rivers and fields of Oakland County. Walk slowly, stop often, look and listen and it’s easy to sense the slowing pulse of the season. The official end of summer does not occur until the Autumnal Equinox; that’s on September 23rd, but the approach of Labor Day weekend signals that summer is in its waning days. And with next week being the final full week of the unofficial end of summer, today I salute ten signs of the season’s transition from summer to autumn. Some are subtle, and some can’t be missed.

This Top Ten ramble was inspired by Dmitri Schoeman who shared his encounter with nature’s way with photos captured last week in Columbia, South Carolina. “I was walking the dog when I saw something in an odd shade of green and went over to see what it was.” For the next hour he watched the emergence of a cicada as it wiggled out of its exoskeleton. His photos might well be entitled “Alien Birth,” for they capture the emergence of an other-worldly looking winged creature as it slowly abandoned its exoskeleton. Continue reading