A Walk to Big Valley

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” Aldo Leopold

If Leopold was still living I believe I would have greatly enjoyed his company on my “Walk to Big Valley.” It was my first introduction to an eye-opening, nature-embracing 157-acre Michigan Nature Association sanctuary, hidden away amidst the glacially sculpted rolling hills of Rose Township, one of Oakland County’s most rural townships, a township with 25 lakes and just under 6,500 residents. Had Leopold reached the bluff that serves as a natural overlook of the sanctuary I am rather certain he would have smiled and thanked those who worked so diligently for the Big Valley’s acquisition and protection. Continue reading

Independence Oaks Safety Path Opens!

Independence Oaks - North Safety Path Dedication

Wilder Side of Oakland County

“My early morning hike of solitude on a sultry summer day at Independence Oaks County Park – North was a magical experience. Wispy cirrus clouds added definition to the clear blue sky. Spider webs sparkled with diamonds of dew. Sandhill cranes trumpeted from a wet meadow. An American Goldfinch and an Eastern Kingbird perched in tree tops to bask in sunlight, as did a Red-tailed Hawk high up on a transmission line tower. The music of crickets, and the rustle of aspen leaves in the morning’s gentle breeze softened the rumble of traffic on nearby Sashabaw Road.” I wrote those words last August as an introduction to a “Wilder Side” blog about Independence Oaks County Park – North; a 188-acre addition to the main section of 1,285-acre Independence Oaks County Park, the largest of the 13 parks managed by Oakland County Parks. Independence Oaks – North is the only Southeast Michigan park with a catch and release special designation by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The park also includes natural features that helped the site be classified by the Michigan Natural Features Inventory as a Priority One Conservation Area.

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Oakland County’s Yellow-Necked Reptile: The Blanding’s Turtle!

Blanding's Turtle

Wilder Side of Oakland County

Looking for a yellow-necked timid dinosaur? I’ve got the next best thing: A Blanding’s turtle! Signs of these ancient creatures may be a slow-moving dome lumbering across the road or a mysterious shell appearing like a glistening algae coated rock at the edge of a marsh. If the turtle’s long neck is extended and the dazzling golden-yellow throat and chin are exposed, the confirmation is certain, you are viewing a Blanding’s turtle (Emydoidea blandingii); a “Species of Special Concern” in the State of Michigan. Species of special concern are generally described as:

“any species of fish or wildlife that does not meet the criteria as endangered or threatened but is particularly vulnerable and could become a threatened, endangered or extirpated species due to restricted distribution, low or declining numbers, specialized habitat needs or limits, or other factors, or is a species likely deserving of threatened or endangered status, but for which insufficient data are currently available.”

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Leopards in the Grass

Leopards in the Grass

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Summer is almost here, it’s the season leopards stalk through moist meadows and tall grass fields in search of prey. They are stealthy, well-camouflaged predators with powerful legs, keen eyesight, and voracious appetites. If prey comes within range, leg muscles tighten and in a lightning fast move, they lunge forward and strike; for that’s what ambush predators of all sizes do. Whether it be a bone-crushing leopard at Serengeti National Park in the wilds of Tanzania or a bug-swallowing northern leopard frog with a long sticky tongue on the wilder side of Oakland County.

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Getting Lost in Nature at Camp Agawam

Camp Agawam

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Camp Agawam, located in the heart of Orion Township is one of the newest kids on the “nature block” when it comes to easily accessible multi-use parks enriched with heavy doses of natural wildness and existing infrastructure. Agawam is on the south side of Clarkston Road between Joslyn Road and M-24 and was previously owned and operated by the Boy Scouts of America. In 2014, Orion Township took ownership and it’s now managed by Orion Township Parks and Recreation. Upgrades and improvements are underway and this very attractive park won’t be a secret much longer.

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