Happy 1st Birthday! The Natural Areas Notebook celebrates one year!

One year ago, June 11, 2014, the Natural Areas Notebook launched! As natural areas stewardship staff and volunteers, we experience the special natural areas in Oakland Township parks every day, and we want to share our experiences and insights with you. And we’ve been excited and humbled by your support of this blog and our stewardship efforts in the parks. So I want to say a big thanks to all of our readers, to supportive Parks and Recreation staff/commissioners, to the many volunteers that have attended workdays and bird walks, and to Cam Mannino for her special “This Week at Bear Creek” contributions (and other articles too!).

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When I launched the blog last June I had been Natural Areas Stewardship Manager with Oakland Township Parks for just over a month. At that point I’d already visited some of the far corners of the parks, seen wild lupine and hoary puccoon flowering along the Paint Creek Trail, and had the privilege to interact with many township residents. I kept thinking, “Wow, Oakland Township has some really cool natural areas. Do people realize what treasures are hiding right under their noses?” I knew it wasn’t possible to take every township resident out for a weekly nature hike (though that would be pretty awesome…), so I decided a blog would be a good alternative to share glimpses of beautiful wildflowers, secretive wildlife, and stewardship work to entice you to join our efforts in protecting and restoring our natural areas.

So I clicked a few buttons, registered the domain name, chose a name, and voila! A blog was born. Blog readership has grown steadily, and over the past year we’ve had over 5000 views and 2600 visitors from all over the world!

Highlights

Some of the highlights I’ve enjoyed from the last year include:

  1. Working with our Parks staff, stewardship crew, and volunteers
  2. Learning about the unique prairie habitats along the Paint Creek Trail
  3. Working to bring native plants and wildlife back to degraded areas in our parks. I’m excited to see the plants and wildlife that benefit in the next few years!
  4. Fun surprises along the way
  5. A volunteer Park Steward that wants to write blog posts! When stewardship work needs to get done, I don’t always have the time I need to post on the blog. Cam Mannino’s great pictures and fun narrative help me look at Bear Creek Nature Park with fresh eyes each week. Thanks Cam!

Feedback Wanted!

Let us know how we’re doing! What do you think about the blog? What would you like to see more? What would you like to eliminate? Is the website easy to navigate? If you have comments or suggestions, please let us know!

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About Ben VanderWeide

I am the Natural Areas Stewardship Manager for Oakland Township Parks and Recreation in southeast Michigan. I have a doctorate in biology (focused on plant ecology) and I am passionate about protecting and managing natural areas.

4 thoughts on “Happy 1st Birthday! The Natural Areas Notebook celebrates one year!

  1. Ben, I’m completely blown away by your birthday blog! I love the slideshow which gives such a sense of the work going on throughout the year. And your photos in so many of these posts – ones that I’d missed, some of them! – are just spectacular. Some day you’ll have to give us all some tips on how you get those. I’ve only seen you use your cell phone for photos and I can’t get photos like that on my cellphone at all! What a lively site you’ve created and how wonderful that so many people are enjoying it! I’m sure it’s encouraged lots of people to get out and enjoy our beautiful Oakland Township parks. I’m so lucky and honored to be part of Natural Areas Notebook with This Week at Bear Creek. Thanks for all your energy, kindness and hard work.

    1. Thanks Cam! I don’t have too many tricks for getting good pictures – most of it is just intuitive at this point. I’ve taken many of my recent pictures with my phone, but I prefer to use my rugged little point-and-shoot camera, a Pentax Optio W30. It’s waterproof and slips into my pocket easily, so I often have it on hand when I need it.

      Here’s to the future of our natural areas, and to getting people excited about them!

  2. Doctor Ben, congrats on completing the first year of this blog. It’s been fascinating to get up-close glimpses and behind-the-scene insights about the flora and fauna of our beautiful natural areas. Your enthusiasm is contagious! Great use of technology to get info out about the park events and opportunities for volunteering. “Camera Cam” with her photos and commentary is a really nice feature. I hope she’ll soon be back on her Bear Creek walks. Keep up the great work!

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