The Oakland Township Parks stewardship program had an extraordinary year in 2015. It was a year of growth, both here on the Natural Areas Notebook and for our capacity to do habitat restoration. Whether you’ve been following the Natural Areas Notebook from the first blog post or just found us, you might have missed some of these milestones from 2015. If you had a favorite memory from this blog in 2015, please share it in the comments below!
1. Bird Walks
Remember the deep snow and frigid temperatures last winter? We launched our weekly bird walks in the depths of winter, breaking cabin fever (and getting some pictures of spectacular winter scenes too). We had a great fun observing the mosaic of bird life change with the seasons. Join us when we start again in January!
2. Learning Together
Why are we planting prairie in Michigan? What is prescribed fire? What are invasive species? How do we control Phragmites? What does it look like to landscape with native plants? Through Stewardship Talks, Phragmites Control Workshops, and Volunteer Workdays we learned together how to appreciate, protect, and restore our natural heritage. Look for more events to learn about coyotes, oak openings, and prescribed fire in 2016! (events will be posted soon).
3. This Week at Bear Creek
Cam Mannino joined us as a volunteer Park Steward early in 2015 and soon after began her weekly posts, “This Week at Bear Creek.” Each week Cam took us on a virtual tour of Bear Creek Nature Park, spirited along by her agile pen (well, keyboard) and insightful camera lens. I learned a lot about the insects, birds, and other critters that call Bear Creek home, and I hope you did too! Check out some favorite posts below.
- Introducing “This Week at Bear Creek”
- Do Birds Have Cold Feet? And Who Else is Under the Pond Ice?
- Winter Prep, Migrants Coming and Going, Chilly Insects, Fall Leaves, and a New Native Garden
- An Appreciation of Some Less Appreciated Species
- A Cold Week, but Spring Keeps Coming
- Big Beautiful Birds, Blooms, and Butterflies
4. Planting Prairies
Punctuating nearly two years of preparation, we planted 38 acres of native wildflowers and grasses in prairie/oak barrens restoration areas at Charles Ilsley Park and Draper Twin Lake Park. Financial and technical assistance from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, through their Partners for Fish and Wildlife program, allowed us to complete this phase of our ambitious grassland restoration project. Be sure to visit these parks over the next few years to watch the grasslands mature. Look for more big habitat restoration projects at Charles Ilsley Park, Gallagher Creek Park, and Stony Creek Ravine Nature Park in 2016!
- Big picture about grasslands in Oakland Township
- Prairie remnants in Oakland Township
- Cool prairie and oak barrens flowers
- USFWS Partners for Fish and Wildlife grant
- Site preparation in prairie restoration areas
- Planting the prairie restoration areas, fall 2015
5. Observing, Reflecting, Summarizing
It is amazing how easy it is to forget the little details (and even the important ones!). By taking time to carefully observe, thoughtfully reflect, and accurately summarize our stewardship work, we can refine and improve our work going forward.
- 2014 Natural Areas Stewardship Annual Report
- Bringing Nature Home: Food for Thought and Helpful Resources
- Celebrating a the 1st birthday of Natural Areas Notebook
Happy New Year from the Stewardship Team!