Ottawa County Parks Foundation – November Newsletter
Happy National Gratitude Month!
With Thanksgiving around the corner, it is a great time to reflect on what we are grateful for. With the hustle and bustle of the holidays beginning it is easy to lose focus on what is important. Something that helps regain that focus is simple gratitude, which is being thankful and expressing it. Expressing it can be as simple as saying “Today I am grateful for…”.
Studies have shown that feeling thankful can improve sleep, mood, and immunity. Gratitude can decrease depression, anxiety, difficulties with chronic pain and risk of disease. Studies have also shown that nature has similar effects. Together gratitude and nature are a powerful combination.
A great way to combine these two is a gratitude walk. A gratitude walk involves gentle walking for 20 minutes or more, with a calm, grateful state of mind. As you focus on your breathing, your steps, and the surroundings, say quietly aloud things you are grateful for.
Here is a challenge for national gratitude month, take a weekly gratitude walk at an Ottawa County Park. If you don’t live near an Ottawa County Park, find a park in your local community. You could visit the same park or visit a new park every week. Share on Facebook or Instagram and tag @ottawacountyparksfoundation to let us know which park you are visiting and what you are grateful for. Finally, enjoy the positive forces of gratitude and nature.
Featured Plant: Southern Wild-Rice
by Bobbi Sabine
Did you know that Ottawa County is home to 89 plant and animal species that are State-listed as Endangered, Threatened, or Special Concern?! One of those special plants is southern wild-rice (Zizania aquatica), a Threatened species.
Once common, wild rice populations declined due to overharvesting and loss of wetland habitat. Southern wild-rice is now found in only 16 counties in Michigan. Ottawa County has the most known populations, with seven recorded locations. There is also a northern wild-rice (Zizania palustris) which is found more extensively throughout the state.
Wild-rice is a tall (60-120”) grass, found in emergent marshes, lakeshores, ponds, and slowly moving streams. It usually occurs in water less than 2 feet deep, in areas with a slight current over a mucky or silty bottom.
This plant benefits from the habitat protection it receives in the wetlands found in our local and county parks, including the natural cycle of water fluctuations. Agricultural runoff has negative impacts on it, and it faces competition from non-native species like narrow-leaf cattail, phragmites, and purple loosestrife.
Wild-rice is Michigan’s only native grain, and was an important food for Native Americans, who called it “Manoomin.”
Photo credit: Michigan Flora Online, G.Crow
Looking for gift ideas this holiday season?
The Ottawa County Parks Foundation is happy to help. Donate to the Foundation in someone’s honor, and the honoree will receive a thank letter from the Foundation letting them know you made a generous donation in their honor. Put a note in the comments section of the online form with the person’s name and contact information.
Featured Park: Connor Bayou
12945 North Cedar Dr.
Grand Haven, MI 49417
This 142-acre property includes nearly a mile of Grand River frontage and a diversity of natural communities including wetlands, mature mixed hardwood and pine forest, and remnants of prairie plant communities. The site offers outstanding views of the Grand River and expansive wetlands to the north. Connor Bayou is also along the Idema Explorers Trail.