Saturday Morning, repeated Saturday Afternoon

Aman Park

Aman Park is a 331 acre natural area located in eastern Ottawa County, managed by the City of Grand Rapids in an area filled with many diverse ecological plant colonies; the foot paths are well maintained and easy to walk.  Sand Creek winds its way through a magnificent Mesic Forest landscape, dramatically carpeted in wildflowers, boasting 75 spring-blooming species and an additional 65 summer species.  Over 40 different species of trees occur within the park. We will be going along the lower Sand Creek valley and back through the upland bluffs on a two-mile hike.  Specialties include Virginia   Bluebells and Green Violet. Our West Michigan weather can produce lots of wildflowers early or late in the season, but you will see many blooming plants, trees and bushes throughout this preserve whenever you visit it.  

Leaders: Bill Martinus and Leon (Chip) Schaddelee have botanized the area since the early 1970's.  Both Bill and Chip have taught at several area schools.  They have traveled together throughout the United States to conduct natural features inventories for numerous conservancies, National Parks, County Parks, and various corporations. 

Saturday Morning

An indoor slide program will review wildflower natural history and include plant biological and ecological adaptations for survival. Photos illustrate plant parts showing adaptation secrets for survival. Pictures are used to review wildflower terms used in field guides before we venture into the Calvin College Ecosystem Preserve. Outdoors we will enjoy spring’s exuberance of floral reproductive strategies and beauty. Program and field trip will be on campus. Wear appropriate field clothes and footwear for this upland walk of less than one mile through forest to elevated pond view platforms. Time: 8:30 to noon.

Leader: Steve Mueller (Ranger Steve) is a butterfly, nature and wilderness photographer, and a consummate naturalist with an endless fascination for the environment.  The career of “Ranger Steve” has crossed six decades, since his start in the 1960s as a Michigan State Parks Ranger. He has served in the National Park Service, as a high school and college biology instructor, and as chief naturalist at three different nature centers,   and has authored over 100 articles related to nature and interpretation. His photographic work has been published in national publications such as Sierra Magazine, high school textbooks, and Beautyway Post Cards. 

He was named Outstanding Senior Interpreter, by the National Association of Interpreters (NAI).  He is one of the original members of the Utah Lepidopterists’ Society, recipient of the William B Stapp Award for environmental education.  The NAI awarded Ranger Steve the 2010 Distinguished Interpreter Award, the highest award they bestow.

Saturday Morning

Seidman Park

Seidman Park is a 422 acre natural area with diverse plant communities, ranging from fen and marsh to old field, lowland and upland forest, and hills of open sand.  You will be guided through a number of the different habitats and plant communities, where Pam has documented a total of 517 vascular plant species. The history of the park and its pre-settlement vegetation will be discussed.  Participants will walk approximately 1 mile with only a few small hills.  A boardwalk traverses the swamp woods so feet should remain dry. 

Leader: Dr. Pam Laureto grew up in Oak Park IL, but summered in northern Michigan. It was on the beaches, sand dunes, and forests of the Sleeping Bear Dunes that she acquired her love for nature and the flora of Northern Michigan. Pam graduated from Aquinas College with a major in Biology, and then went on to earn her Master's and PhD in Biology from Western Michigan University. Upon completion of her Master's she began teaching Botany and General Ecology at Grand Rapids Community College, where she is currently a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. Pam and her husband Tom have been married 37 years and have 3 sons and 3 grandchildren. Pam has been a member of the White Pines Chapter since 1992, was President of the MBC from 2003-2011, and is currently President of the Michigan Botanical Foundation.

Saturday Afternoon

Aman Park (program repeated from Saturday Morning)

See above.

Saturday Afternoon

Black Oak Barren and Savanna

This Black Oak Barren and Savanna is located on the west side of Grand Rapids with the highest quality area, about 10 acres, being along a power line right-of-way owned by Consumers Energy. The property runs through the Mines Golf Course which has granted access to the site and even equipment for past restoration efforts. Many of the savanna species are present because  Consumers Energy removes encroaching woody shrubs and trees, an effort  that has allowed many important species to thrive. Grasses such as Big Bluestem, Little Bluestem, and Indian Grass tend to dominate as a result of herbicide regimens but there are many high quality forbs to see during the early summer including Goat's Rue, Lupine, American Columbo, Hoary Puccoon among others. All of this makes it a rather exceptional little site within the City of Grand Rapids. The site is very hilly but accessible via golf cart paths (sorry, we won't have golf carts available). The Dew Berry can be thick in spots so  open-toe shoes and shorts are not recommended.

Leader: Jesse Lincoln is a Conservation Associate for the Michigan Natural Features Inventory. Jesse has been a resident of Grand Rapids for the past 13 years. He received Bachelor and Master Degrees from Grand Valley State University, where he  studied invasive species ecology. Currently he works for the Michigan Natural Features Inventory as an ecologist where he puts his passion for botany to work. Jesse currently  is coordinating a project that inventories State land across the southern half of the Lower Peninsula. He is very interested in identifying and conserving small fragments of high quality ecosystems that remain throughout our region.

Saturday Afternoon

Growing Native Plants and Establishing Natural Habitats to Restore an Urban Watershed

We will tour Calvin College’s native plant production greenhouses and native tree nursery and hear about how students and volunteers have been working together to propagate these native species, from fall seed collection to spring and summer planting.  After visiting this facility, we will travel to a variety of locations in Grand Rapids to see where these plants end up.  On Calvin’s main campus we will see an 8-year old restored woodland/rain garden site and a lawn-to-shortgrass prairie project in process. We will also visit Catalyst Partners, a green building consulting group in downtown Grand Rapids that has a variety of habitats incorporated into its landscaping, including dry prairie, tallgrass prairie, woodland and emergent wetland. All along we will hear and see how these native plantings are helping to reduce stormwater runoff and promote biodiversity and natural beauty in urban Grand Rapids.  Other stops may also occur as time allows. Activity level for this field trip will be very low. 

Leaders:  Calvin College staff : Dr. Gail Heffner, Michael Ryskamp, and Dr. David Warners.

 Dr. Gail Heffner is Calvin’s Director for Community Engagement and along with David started the Plaster Creek Stewards. Gail did her doctoral work in Urban Studies at Michigan State University. Mike is a 2011 graduate of Calvin College, where he double majored in International Development and Biology. David graduated from Calvin with a major in biology and chemistry and has a Masters in Environmental Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a PhD in Botany from the University of Michigan. (See remainder of David's bio under Saturday Keynote Speaker.

Saturday All Day

Annis Water Resources Institute/Sampling Cruise on the W.G. Jackson. Also: Lost Lake; freshwater sponges;  Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve.

The trip begins with a tour of the facilities at the AWRI in downtown Muskegon on Muskegon Lake. The Institute consists of three Divisions: Ecological Research, Information Services, and Educational Outreach. A scientific team of investigators work in and out of this building doing cutting edge land and water research.

After the tour, the group will board the 65 foot long W.G. Jackson Research-Education vessel for a 2.5 hour sampling cruise of Muskegon Lake and, weather permitting, Lake Michigan. Water quality parameters to be studied will include dissolved oxygen, pH, conductivity, turbidity, bottom sediments, and plankton analysis.  Minimum age for participation is 10 years.  This cruise will be free and open to a limited group of 24. This trip will take place rain or shine.

Annis Water Resources Institute/Sampling Cruise on the W.G. Jackson Leader: Dr. Janet Vail, Manager of the Educational Outreach Division of the Institute. 

After lunch at the AWRI, the group will drive to the Muskegon State Park Lost Lake. Along  the way, stops will be made to check out freshwater sponges and the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve.

Lost Lake, Muskegon State Park

Lost Lake is located behind a forested Lake Michigan barrier dune. Lost Lake is considered a Coastal Plain Marsh and is one of only 42 locations occurring in ten Michigan Counties. It consists of two main habitats: wet (bog) and upland hardwood. This location has been rated with a Floristic Quality Index of 67 making it extremely significant in terms of native biodiversity and natural landscapes. Extensive walking over flat land will be involved at this location. 

Trip Leader: Roger Tharp is a member of the White Pines Chapter. He taught biology for 32 years at Mona Shores High School in Muskegon. For ten seasons he was a science instructor aboard GVSU's Research-Education vessel the D.J. Angus operating out of Grand Haven.

Saturday All Day

Kitchel-Lindquist-Hartger Dunes Preserve and Rosy Mound Park

This is your opportunity to have a guided tour of one of Michigan's natural treasures. You will be led  through the sand dunes at the Preserve to see some of the rare plants that only grow in sand dune areas along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Pitcher Thistle and other rare plants are located in this well-preserved dune area. The preserve has excellent foot paths leading through the dunes and the walk is an easy to moderate one for about one mile. Enjoy standing on the shore of Lake Michigan among spectacular dune plants.

Leader: Lynne Kinkema is a naturalist who has devoted much time in helping to further the success of this preserve.  A devoted group of area people have met during the years to maintain the preserve, give tours, conduct plant surveys, and encourage school children to visit. The Preserve Committee Board is proud to announce the forthcoming Twenty Fifth Anniversary of this dune preserve.

We will eat our box lunches in the Dr. Mary Kitchel Outdoor Classroom before leaving for Rosy Mound.

Rosy Mound Natural Area

In the afternoon you will have the opportunity to visit one of the shining stars of the Ottawa County Parks system while being guided by a park naturalist. You will be able to climb the back side of a high wooded dune (400 steps) and along the way view the plant communities in the shady dune forest, up to the crest of Rosy Mound for a magnificent view of Lake Michigan. In comparison with your morning excursion, this will be a very different Great Lakes sand dune experience.

Leader: Ottawa County Parks Naturalist

Saturday  All Day

Hemlock Crossing Nature Center and Eastmanville Bayou Area

The Hemlock Crossing Nature and Education Center is part of the Ottawa County Park System. The Center maintains exhibits, a classroom, a wildlife viewing area, and a gift shop. There are six miles of trails winding through 239 acres of woods and wetlands. Included is one mile  of paved trail, with access to restrooms and picnic shelters. The unpaved trail system offers scenic overlooks, nature viewing areas, and a unique pedestrian bridge overlooking Pigeon River. . The trails range from flat to hilly. Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Commission owns and manages 6000 acres of natural resource based parks and open spaces. The first part of this field trip will be Power Point presentation providing an overview of the plant communities within the parks, including some rare communities and species. Then, there will be a short hike to explore the Hemlock Crossing Park, including its native grassland plantings. After lunch, the group will travel to Eastmanville Bayou Open Space to explore this riparian system which features many southern species at the most northern part of their habitat including Kentucky Coffee Tree and Pawpaw. This location also sustains an impressive display of Virginia Bluebells. This location is fairly flat and will involve some off-trail hiking.

Leader, Hemlock Crossing: Melanie Manion is the Natural Resources Manager for Ottawa County Parks in Michigan. She is responsible for the stewardship and restoration of over 6000 acres of park and open space land, in addition to the development of a comprehensive volunteer program. Previously, Melanie worked for the Land Conservancy of West Michigan and Blandford Nature Center. She has a B.S. in Biology and Environmental Science and a M.S. in Conservation Biology from Central Michigan University.

Leader, Eastmanville Bayou: This portion will be guided by a naturalist from Ottawa County Parks.

Sunday Morning

Spring Park Fen and Paul Henry-Thornapple Trail

Spring Park, a MDNR certified wetlands area and fen ecosystem, is part of a Michigan Wetlands Conservation Easement.  The fen has a spring fed creek, tamaracks, gentians, and several orchids. It is a pocket of fairly untouched water and vegetation right in the middle of Middleville, which has managed to exist through all the development around it.  This  fen has a Floristic Quality Index of 38.93 that makes it floristically important from a statewide perspective.  We will then spend some time at the Paul Henry-Thornapple Trail. This has a 3 1/2 mile blacktopped section that features riverbank, bayous and millpond, meadow, and deep woods containing flora such as violets, trout lily, trillium, yellow iris, Turks cap lily, and various ferns. Long pants are recommended for the Trail, as we may walk through nettles; the ground may be wet in places.

Leader:  Cal Lamoreaux has degrees from MSU in electrical engineering and math with graduate work in physical science at MSU and in Michigan Conservation from WMU.  He has taught English, math, chemistry and physics.  Cal has led many field trips for various groups including the North County Trail Association, and maintains web sites on fishing, outdoor adventures, paddling, dancing, birding and trails.  He is a life member of the Michigan Audubon Society, and is a member of the National, Kalamazoo, and Grand Rapids Audubon Societies and is a past Board Member of the Kalamazoo and Michigan Audubon Societies  He is a lifelong student of Natural History including birds, mammals, plants, wild foods, immunology, astronomy, geology, mineralogy, and meteorology. Cal is excited to have the only Native American member of the mint family growing naturally next to his backyard, and to have had a pure white common milkweed appear in his yard last year.

Sunday Morning

Hudsonville Nature Center

The Hudsonville Nature Center is a 75 acre preserve owned by the city of Hudsonville which opened to the public in 1989. There is a mixture of habitats from openings and prairies to woodlands and small pocket wet areas with a stream flowing through.  Beginning in 1991 an approximately 6 acre prairie restoration was planted in 3 stages. The woodlands abound in spring wildflowers including a healthy population of Jeffersonia. There is an amazing vista of wildflowers throughout this nature preserve, plus flowering trees and bushes. The prairie includes many unique prairie plants (best seen in the fall). Wetland plants, woodland plants and field flowers are easily located in this well managed preserve.

Leader: Craig Elston has been a Naturalist for 20 years, and involved with the Nature Center for 25 years; he  was responsible for planting the prairie area. His expertise with plants and birds is remarkable and you will learn much about our native plants and animals. Be sure to bring a hat, wear walking shoes and remember to bring insect repellent. Your walk will introduce you to some old favorites plus many unusual wildflowers. 

Sunday Morning

Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary Botanical Exploration

The morning will be spent exploring field, forest, and floodplain habitats at Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary. Much of the sanctuary is upland but we will also stalk the secret lives of plants on the lowland floodplain. There is a footbridge over Little Cedar Creek and small steel bridges over a tributary spring that flows from the upland cut bank. Woodpeckers have heavily hammered large ash trees this winter and it is expected the trees will succumb this year from the Emerald Ash Borer epidemic. Wear appropriate field clothes and footwear. Total walking distance will be less than one mile.

Leader: Steve Mueller (Ranger Steve) See bio listed  under Saturday morning trip.

Sunday Afternoon

Maher Sanctuary

Maher Sanctuary is owned by the Grand Rapids Audubon Society.  It contains a series of wetlands surrounded by glacial features and mature forest.  The wetlands include a sedge meadow, a marl pond, an extensive shrub swamp and two branches of Caine Creek.  There is a nice meadow along the south loop of the main circle trail.  Because of the wetlands, much of this trail is a boardwalk, however hiking boots are recommended.

Leader:  Cal Lamoreaux (see bio under Spring Park Fen)

Sunday Afternoon

Hudsonville Nature Center(program repeated from Sunday Morning)

See above.

Sunday Afternoon

Grand Valley State University Ravines and Molecular Lab

The Grand Valley State University Ravines, located on the GVSU campus, provide a beautiful and diverse habitat of Michigan plants. Formed through erosion from streams flowing to the Grand River, the Ravines are topographically diverse and host a well-developed eastern deciduous forest and riparian communities along the Grand River. Along with numerous tree and shrub species, you will have the opportunity to see Pawpaw, near its northern geographical limit, Virginia Bluebells , a Michigan endangered species, and a host of spring ephemerals. This hike will involve some steep trail-climbing. After exploring the Ravines, you will have the opportunity to visit the GVSU Arboretum and take a short tour of a modern plant molecular systematic research lab.

Leader: Dr. Tim Evans grew up in the State of Wyoming. He earned his BS and MS degrees in Botany from the University of Wyoming and then went on to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to obtain his PhD in Botany in 1995. He did two years of postdoctoral work at Miami University of Ohio. From 1997 to 2008 he was on the faculty of Hope College, and since then on the faculty of GVSU. As an Associate Professor in the GVSU Biology Department, he teaches classes in Systematic Botany and Plants and Islands.

Sunday All Day

Fern Grotto and Sandhill Farm and the TenHave Woodlands and Clear Lake

The trip begins at Sandhill Farm where the owner has developed it by increasing the number of  wildflowers by conducting plant rescues and by maintaining the pre-existing diversity on the farm. Some of the plants rescued include unusual species such as Red Trillium, Cimicifuga, and Starry Solomon's Seal.  The focus of Sandhill Farm is primarily herbaceous woodland species and ferns. There is also a 25 acre plot planted with native grass seed from the Newaygo prairie, including Big Blue Stem, Indian, Little Blue and Switch grasses. She has 27 woodland species and 9 ferns.  Of special interest is the Fern Grotto which includes large stands of spectacular ferns. One result of all the native plants on her property is incredible bird watching. There are Northern Shrikes, Meadow Larks, numerous hawks, owls, and warblers among many other birds.

Leader: Cheryl Tolley works full time as a professional gardener in residential gardens.  Her main interest is helping homeowners increase the number of natives they are planting and teaching them the benefits that native plants bring. Cheryl has taught classes for Frederik Meijer Gardens, Master Gardeners and garden clubs. She conducts tours of Sandhill Farm and the Fern Grotto. Cheryl has worked as a professional gardener for over 16 years.  She is a charter member of the Wildflower Association and the Past President.  Cheryl has a BA from Western Michigan University and an MBM from Aquinas College.  She is an Advanced Master Gardener (Kent County Extension) with over 2500 volunteer hours. 

TenHave Woodlands and Clear Lake

From Sandhill Farm we will travel to Clear Lake and the surrounding woodlands where we will enjoy our box lunches on his deck overlooking Clear Lake, while he tells us about the history of the area and interesting things at his preserve.  The 300 acres of forest and oak openings completely surround Clear Lake, which is a haven for birds and wood animals. Over 20 species of conifers have been planted. There are also many species of woodland trees to be seen throughout the forest. You will notice the large pot holes that were formed ten thousand years ago when the glacier receded. According to the whims of West Michigan weather, you will see thousands of pink ladies-slippers in bloom. But don't worry because there are many other orchids to see as well as a remarkable variety of spring ephemerals and summer wildflowers in large colonies. A walk around the lake takes you to interesting wetland plants plus the view of blooming trees and bushes. John will have plant lists and maps so you may chose to go where you wish on his property to botanize.  

Leader: John TenHave is a retired high school science teacher. He has enjoyed living by the shore of Clear Lake and he takes groups through his forest preserve. His knowledge of plants and animals helps him teach others about our native treasures. 

Monday Morning

Meijer Gardens Tour (may stay as long as desired)

This 132 acre site, just a few miles from Calvin College, includes such indoor areas as a Victorian room, a tropical conservatory, an arid garden, and a carnivorous plant room. Areas outside include an English perennial garden, a woodland shade garden, a boardwalk along the wetlands, and an extensive sculpture park. Special attractions include the Michigan farm garden and a children's garden. A tram ($3.00 extra charge for adults) travels around the sculpture area. The garden is totally barrier-free and wheelchairs are available. Special entry fee: adults $8, children (3-18 years) $3.50; to obtain this special price you must show your name tag on Monday, May 27, from 9-5.

Leader: Arlene Obetts, a member of the White Pine Chapter is a Meijer Gardens docent, and will lead the indoor tour and assist you with selecting outdoor areas to visit.

Monday Morning

Saul Lake Bog – Dry Hike (Boardwalk only)

This trip will begin with a 30 minute presentation at Cornerstone University with our leader, Raymond Gates.  We will then travel to Saul Lake Bog in Grattan Township for a 2 hour tour. This bog is managed by the NACOWMI and is the most unique wetland in West Michigan. We will be staying on the boardwalk, so this will be a dry hike.  (Ray, also known as “Gator” is known for his wet bog walks where he and his students jump into the bog during the sessions—we will spare you that thrill!)  Sandhill cranes are common as well as many species of carnivorous plants, along with orchids and Ray’s favorite, shrub poison sumac.

Leader:  Ray Gates (“Gator”)

Ray has been an associate professor of biology for 34 years.  He received his B.S. in botany from Spring Arbor College and M.S. in field biology from Central Michigan University followed by A.B.D. from MSU in Fisheries and Wildlife.  He has received Professor of the Year 3 times from Cornerstone University, most recently in 2011 and was selected as Environmental Teacher of the year in 1986 by the West Michigan Environmental Action Council.

Field Trip Locations

Field Trip Locations