A Riverside Nature Ramble in Rochester Hills

A river cuts through the land. One side is grassy and tall trees run along the far side. The sky is blue with white puffy clouds.

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

The Ice Age was coming to an end. Shuffling its 8-ton frame, a shaggy mastodon crossed a steep moraine and lumbered down to the edge of a bend in the icy rock-strewn river. That mighty herbivore, soon to be extinct, browsed on perhaps forty or fifty pounds of riverside shrubs and then wandered into the darkness of a changing world, along what is now the Riverside Trail.

A grassy area with tall trees on an autumn day. The foliage is changing from green to yellow, orange, and red. A bit of light blue sky and white clouds shows through the trees.

Fast forward to the last week of October 2018. Autumn in Oakland County had reached its full glory, and I was setting out on the Riverside Trail that’s part of the Avon Nature Study Area in the City of Rochester Hills. Within minutes of my arrival, I noted fresh raccoon tracks in mud, a flash of silvery movement in a bend of the Clinton River and evidence of beaver activity. The river sparkled under a clear blue sky. It was a great day. Perhaps consider replicating my journey for a quick immersion into nature’s way before the snows and strong winds of November arrive. Continue reading

A Park on a River, Placemaking, and Pizza

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

One hundred and ninety-six years have passed by since Aaron Webster became the first permanent European settler along the banks of the Clinton River in what is now the City of Auburn Hills. He died of typhoid fever just two years later in the summer of 1823, but before his death he constructed a dam on the river that captured the power of the water’s flow to operate a saw mill.  The timber from his saw mill was then was used to build a grist mill to grind grain. That’s how Auburn Hills began.

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An Early Morning Lake Sixteen Environmental Adventure

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

150 Tennis Balls, 91-Acres of Water, 18 Volunteers, and the Ghost of Mastodons: An Early Morning Lake Sixteen Environmental Adventure

Oakland County would be a lesser place if it was not for our beautiful lakes, wetlands, rivers and streams. With those thoughts in mind, I loaded my kayak onto the roof of my jeep on the last Wednesday of August for a bit of participatory, investigative reporting on Lake Sixteen.

The early morning fog lifted just as I pulled into the small parking area near a fishing pier and a non-motorized boat launch site on Lake Sixteen, a 91-acre lake on the east side of Orion Oaks County Park. Lake Sixteen is one of the hundreds, or some say more than a thousand local lakes that sparkle in the early morning light of fading summer. Here’s what Oakland County’s Prosper Magazine wrote last October about the numerous lakes that enrich our lives, and provide diverse habitat for hundreds of species of wildlife and great outdoor recreation for residents of our county.

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Adopt-A-Stream, Become A Benthos Hunter!

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

If a hiker wandered by a section of a small creek near Clarkston last Sunday they may have wondered why two women wearing waders carried small nets on long poles and slowly walked into the water. Every few minutes one would come ashore and carefully empty dark muck from the creek bottom into a pan. Another woman on shore gave directions, took notes and documented everything as I watched with the steadfast intensity of a man observing every aspect of very tiny creatures that wiggled in the muck pan in front of him. Continue reading