Have you sat on the Lake Michigan shore with your eyes closed, listening to the rolling waves? A gentle breeze caresses your face while the sunlight gently warms you. The sand tickles your body as it dances around you in the breeze. As your senses connect to your brain, your body relaxes, and your mind clears as you focus only on the tranquility of your surroundings.
If you have had those moments in nature, you know that spending time in nature improves your emotional wellbeing. It has also been associated with an improved physical wellbeing, reduced blood pressure, healthier heart rate, relaxing of muscle tension, and the production of stress-reducing hormones.
Many of us don’t have our own private natural oasis to enjoy the benefits of nature. That is where Ottawa County Parks comes in, providing a connection to nature that our minds and bodies desperately need.
Last year, Foundation supporter Shelly Stephens learned she had a rare form of breast cancer. During her recovery, Shelly began spending more time in Ottawa County Parks. Shelly said that “walking in our parks was the most effective thing I found to manage swelling, regain strength, and improve my mental and emotional well-being.”
Thanks to Ottawa County Parks, our community has many beautiful and diverse natural places to go to enjoy the benefits of nature. Your support for the Foundation has been vital to ensuring residents and visitors alike can access nature.
There are many ways to support the parks you love. Volunteer, or serve on a committee or the Board, or – even easier – donate.
Featured Plant: Prairie Trillium
by Bobbi Sabine
May in Michigan means trilliums. Most people instantly recognize the common large white flowering trillium, but its lesser-known cousin prairie trillium goes largely unnoticed. Prairie trillium (Trillium recurvatum) is listed and protected as a Threatened species in Michigan. It’s found in Berrien County by the thousands, and a few other locations in southwest and southeast Michigan.
It has three maroon petals, three green sepals, and three mottled leaves. The flower is stalkless. Sometimes it occurs in a yellow-flowered form or with several sets of leaves. When the fruiting body matures, it resembles a six-pointed star. The youngest plants put up only one leaf the first year or two.
Common names of trillium species include birthroot, a name given by the earliest settlers, believing that indigenous people used the root to induce labor and other childbirth-related issues. Other medicinal uses of the plant include use of the rhizome’s astringent and antiseptic qualities on wounds and sores.
A perennial flower, they grow from rhizomes about half the size of your little finger, with all the roots on the bottom side of the rhizome. By mid to late summer, they have largely disappeared above ground.
I once did a transplant project (under State permit) to move over 14,000 of these out of the way of a landfill expansion, right at the Indiana border. That project gave us an opportunity to experiment and learn many things about the plant: the rhizomes are sturdy and can be manhandled, dried out, and buried deep, but will still pop right back up in the spring. Even tiny bits of rhizome with no apparent life had nearly 100% regeneration after a couple years.
Photo Credit: B. Sabine
What can we say? This trail race is Grand: Grand River, Grand Ravines, Grand bridges, and Grand views!
The course starts at Grand River County Park winding you through a natural surface trail until you hit the newly completed Idema Explorers Trail segment that leads you along the Grand River to Grand Ravines County Park.
If you are running (or walking!) the 5K, you will turn around at this point. If you are running the 10K, you will continue to wind yourself through Grand Ravines Park, around the dog park, through the meadow, across the Idema suspension bridge, and back through the woods to Grand River Park. Sounds pretty grand, doesn’t it?
There is also a 1-mile kids run/walk.
To learn more and register, run over to the race website.
Proceeds from this event support the Ottawa County Parks Foundation.
The Stewardship Circle is our lead group of donors making an annual investment of $250 or more to help maintain and enhance our park system.
Featured Park: North Beach
18775 North Shore Drive
Ferrysburg, MI 49409
This seven-acre waterfront park offers swimming and sunbathing along 745 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline. During the summer, a barrier-free beach walkway is available. Visitors can also climb the wooden stairway to the top of a dune for a panoramic view of Lake Michigan. Motor vehicle parking fees are in effect from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.