The annual White Lake Area Guided Nature Walks begin in June. Introduced eight years ago as a way to acquaint area residents and visitors with the community’s natural areas, the walks are a popular summer event, attracting from 20 to 80 participants for each walk. The walks are held the first Saturday of the month, June through October, and are led by expert area guides.
The White Lake Area Guided Nature Walks are made possible with the support of community partners: the Land Conservancy of West Michigan and the White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.
Vaughn Maatman, Executive Director of the Land Conservancy, said “At the Land Conservancy, our mission is to help people protect, enjoy, and care for natural land in West Michigan. We’re pleased to support these events that combine nature walks with educational topics and encourage public enjoyment of Michigan’s many natural wonders.”
Alcoa Howmet has been the annual program’s financial sponsor since its first year. “The nature walks showcase the many beautiful natural assets of the White Lake area,” Amy Heisser, the company’s human resource director says. “We are pleased to continue to provide support to make them happen and to provide opportunities for residents and visitors to get out in nature, exercise, and appreciate the outdoors.”
The walks are coordinated by Tanya Cabala of Great Lakes Consulting and the White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. “We are excited to offer several new topics this year, including photography and drawing nature subjects,” Cabala says. “We also have several new guides. I think attendees will enjoy the diverse experiences!”
According to Amy VanLoon, the Chamber’s executive director, “We are always glad when the nature walks begin because we know visitors and area residents love to see the beauty of the White Lake area with the assistance of our local experts.”
2014 White Lake Area Guided Nature Walks Schedule
- June 7 - Location: Owasippe Scout Reservation. Meeting Location: Owasippe Scout Reservation headquarters. Topic: Oak Barrens and Their Unique Species. Guide: Horticulturist Connie Crancer.
- July 5 – Location: Private forested dune property north of Meinert Park. Meeting Location: Lower parking lot at Meinert County Park (north end). Topic: More Than An Arboretum: A Dunal Forest Ecology. Guide: Conservationist/naturalist Doug Paprocki.
- August 2 – Location: Duck Lake State Park. Meeting Location: Duck Lake State Park pavilion. Topic: Taking Better Pictures of Nature. Photographer and botanist Patricia Pennell. *Bring digital camera or smartphone.
- September 6 – Location: Clear Springs Nature Preserve. Meeting Location: Clear Springs Nature Preserve parking lot. Topic: Simple Nature Drawings. Guide: Artist Sharon Smithem. *Bring sketch pad and no. 2 pencil.
- October 4 – Location: White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. Meeting Location: White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce parking lot. Topic: White Lake Shoreline Habitat Restoration. Guide: Tanya Cabala, Great Lakes Consulting.
Attendees are encouraged to dress appropriately for the weather, wear comfortable, sturdy shoes (no flip flops), and bring water and snacks if needed. Other optional items include: sunscreen, bug spray, hat, umbrella, binoculars, camera, sketchpad, and pencils or pens.
For those who need directions or for carpooling, the meeting place will be the White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, 124 W. Hanson Street in Whitehall at 10 a.m. where parking is available. The walks will begin at 10:30 a.m. and will take place regardless of weather, unless conditions are unsafe. There is no cost for the walks; registration is suggested, but not required.
For more information about the walks, contact the White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce at (231) 893-4585, Tanya Cabala by email or (231) 981-0016, or visit www.naturenearby.org.