Celebrate National Trails Day on an Oakland County trail

Two people walking on trail at Catalpa Oaks County Park in Southfield

Oakland County and its surrounding areas offer miles and miles of trails for your fitness and enjoyment on National Trails Day, June 4! It’s the perfect time to get outside and take a stroll, jog through a park, bike with friends, kick up some dirt at Holly Oaks ORV Park, saddle up on a horse, or paddle down a river. Whether you’re looking to get some vitamin D, exercise, or just want to enjoy some quiet time with nature, there’s no shortage of trails to meet your needs in Oakland County.

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Oakland County Mobile Boat Cleaning Stations Help Prevent Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species

Mobile boat cleaning station at park

Oakland County is home to thousands of lakes and rivers our residents use for boating and paddling, fishing, and hunting. These outdoor activities can unintentionally disperse aquatic invasive species (AIS); non-native plants, animals, and other organisms that can harm our local economy, environment and even our health.

In the summer of 2020, the Oakland County Board of Commissioners established the Clean, Drain, Dry, Dispose (CD3) Pilot Program to raise awareness about the dangers of aquatic invasive species and to educate residents about how to help prevent the spread of these species in Oakland County waters.

The CD3 Pilot Program utilizes mobile boat cleaning stations to empower local water enthusiasts to better protect Oakland County waterways. These stations help users to clean, drain and dry their watercraft, and to dispose of any living organisms (plant or animal) that may be clinging to the crafts. With support from Oakland County Parks and Recreation, the pilot program ran for the final weeks of the 2020 boating season, throughout the 2021 season, and just launched for the 2022 season.

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Red Oaks Nature Center – An Urban Gem

Exterior photo of building at Red Oaks Nature Center

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Natural wonders of spring are appearing along the trails and in the woods of Red Oaks Nature Center in the City of Madison Heights. If you are a birder, this hotspot of biodiversity is one of the best places to be in these early days of May. I was there earlier this week on an overcast morning that hinted of rain to come. Upon arrival, I was greeted by a watchful snacking squirrel perched on the edge of the parking lot fence.

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Magnificent Morels of May!

Two morel mushrooms

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

“April showers bring May flowers.” We heard that saying frequently when the spring rains came and crocuses and daffodils bloomed. April showers, however, bring more than May flowers. They create ideal emergence conditions for morel mushrooms (Morchella esculenta).    

In this blog post, Magnificent Morels of May, readers will be introduced to the basics of morels and morel hunting, with a word of necessary caution: never consume any wild fungus unless you know its identity and edibility with 100 percent certainty. Although all of the accompanying photos show morel mushrooms, there is a great variation in the color and size of individual specimens. Some morels are so large you could insert a smaller one inside as an eye-catching photo opportunity!

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Hopping & Slithering Into Spring!

Eastern milk snake

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Song birds are singing, daffodils will soon appear, and one of my favorite, often overlooked signs of spring has entered its kitten-fur phase. Kitten-fur? The “furry” feeling catkins of pussy willow are now at their peak and free of snow from Monday’s mini squall in northernmost Oakland County.

Their blossoms produce abundant pollen in the early days of spring, a discovery I learned from watching my foraging honey bees.

The blue sky days of spring are taking hold, and with increased hours of daylight and thawing of vernal ponds and frozen earth, the great awakening of our snakes, frogs, and toads is accelerating. Today I’ll be sharing snippets of information on a dozen of my favorite snakes and frogs that are slithering and hopping about. They have been waiting longer for spring than you and I have been. Let’s welcome them!

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