Looking to get outside and enjoy some sunshine? Head on out to Hess-Hathaway, a historic park located right here in Oakland County! Amenities include a large playground, farm animals, trails, a community garden, and more. In 1985, Mrs. Myrtle Hess and family, donated her farm land and property to Waterford Township. The park was named after Mrs. Hess and is now operated by Waterford Township Parks and Recreation.
Wilder Side of Oakland County
Beautiful and Rare, Springfield Township discusses an endangered butterfly, pictured above by CMU Research Assistant Michael Belitz.
“Springfield Township’s Shiawassee Basin Preserve, known for protecting one of the highest quality prairie fen wetlands in Michigan, is also one of the last places on earth to sustain a critically endangered butterfly known as the Poweshiek Skipperling. The Poweshiek Skipperling is a small (<1.25” wingspan) butterfly that depends on high quality prairie habitats like our fen for its survival. Until recently, the Poweshiek was one of the most common prairie butterflies in North America, being found in many states and provinces from the Great Plains region to the Midwest, but around 2005 the population began a mysterious decline in abundance. Today, there are less than five hundred individuals occurring in only a handful of locations across their former range.”
Wilder Side of Oakland County
“Wherever I go, I see little bits of nature, little bits of animal behavior. And nobody else is watching…” Those are the words of iconic conservationist Jane Goodall in her 2018 interview titled, “Living with Chimps” that appears in the BBC publication, Science Focus. I had just finished reading the text of her interview last Friday about her controversial career and how her observations transformed the way we see our primate cousins. It was then time to head off to Springfield Oaks County Park for the grand opening of the 2018 Oakland County Fair. Jane Goodall was not on my mind nor was wildlife observation, but sometimes things change quickly.
Springfield Oaks County Park is not where folks generally go to embrace the wilds of nature or seek solitude. Springfield Oaks bustles with popular crowd oriented activities. The Oakland County Parks website makes no mention of passive nature exploration at their 333-acre multi-use park, but quite correctly boasts of the crowd-attracting venues:
“Springfield Oaks is home of the historic Ellis Barn and annual Oakland County Fair, which draws 100,000+ visitors annually to the 10-day event. The 1884 Ellis Barn is 14,000-square-feet and features an indoor riding arena, 11 box stalls, mechanical exercise ring and cavernous second floor for hay and straw. The barn was donated by former major league baseball players Kirk Gibson and Tim Birtsas and moved from its original located on Dixie Highway to Springfield Oaks in 2005. Today, the barn is used to host weddings and special events like the Ellis Barn Dance and the Michigan Antique Festival. The park also offers a multipurpose room for banquets, reunions and seminars as well as exhibit hall space. The grounds include two outdoor arenas.”
THE WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY
Turkey Tail mushrooms (Trametes versicolor) are fantastic forest fungi that are easily located in the dead of winter and in the sultry heat of summer. As forest foliage thickens during the early days of summer, these extremely common mushrooms may be eclipsed momentarily by the shadows created by dappled sunlight. If you want to photograph them, simply bring along a nature-inquisitive child on a trailside turkey tail hunting foray. It won’t take long until the excited cry of, “I see one!” is followed by an outpouring of enthusiasm to explore nature’s way at the dawn of summer.
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.