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September 5, 2013

Nature programming is back at WB Parks and Recreation

By Robin Ruehlen
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
Kids enjoy romping in the hay at the 2012 West Bloomfield Fall Fest. In addition to this annual event, the West Bloomfield Parks and Recreation Department is unveiling 26 new classes for the fall session.

WEST BLOOMFIELD — With more than 26 new classes debuting at West Bloomfield Parks and Recreation this season, as well as a new lineup of nature programs, boredom is not an option this autumn.

Naturalist Lauren Azoury, who joined the Parks and Recreation staff in July, said she is excited to get the nature programs up and running again.

“There are so many beautiful parks and a very diverse ecosystem in West Bloomfield, and I’ve really enjoyed exploring the wetlands and unique trails,” said Azoury.

“I’ve also spent lots of time cleaning and organizing our Nature Nook, since it hasn’t been used for the past year, and creating new exhibits so that when it opens, it will be new and exciting.” 

Azoury has created several new programs that are not listed in the current issue of Pathways Fall 2013, but can be found on the department’s website. They include two free, guided nature walks that will coincide with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Michigan Trails Week.

From 6:30-7:45 p.m. Sept. 24, participants can take a 1.5-mile evening walk that involves exploring the sights and sounds of the forest, and is ideal for adults and older children. From 2-3:45 p.m. Sept. 29, families can enjoy a game-themed nature hike and play nature games, like wetland bingo and camouflage critters.

On Oct. 18, from 7-8:30 p.m., kids can gather in the Nature Nook for the Halloween-themed  “Be a Bone Detective and a Slime Sleuth.” The cost is $5 per person.

“Everything will be decorated for Halloween, and we’ll be making slime and learning about all those animals with creepy reputations,” Azoury said.

Parks staff will also distribute fliers at upcoming events to spread the word about the upcoming nature programs.

“We’re hoping to have lots that will fit all audiences in the spring, including senior coffee talks at our bird window and home-school programs,” she said.

“We’re trying to cater to all sorts of ages and groups of people.”

For those looking to go off the beaten path and explore on their own, Azoury said, the West Bloomfield Nature Preserve is one of the best she’s seen.

“It’s more of an adventure than just a normal walk, and you have the option of a short loop or a long loop,” she said.

“I imagine it’s going to be gorgeous in the fall because there are so many different species of trees. I just saw a muskrat there the other day, so it was kind of neat to watch him feast on the plant material. It’s a great place for hikers and bikers, and much more remote than the other parks.”

Her second choice would be Marshbank Park, for the fishing pier, the nature trail and the rain garden.

“I spent my first few days here helping kids fish off the pier,” she said.

“The rain gardens are really neat and eco-friendly, as well.”

Parks Superintendent Dan Navarre said residents should look for a full slate of nature programs into the winter and spring.

“We want folks to stay tuned for those because they’re coming back in full force,” he said.

“We’re very excited about Lauren. She’s going to provide us with some wonderful nature programming for people of all ages.”

Other upcoming events to watch for include the “Great West Bloomfield Camp Out” in Marshbank Park Sept. 20, the “Fall Fest” Oct. 6 and the “Trick or Treat Trail” Oct. 25.

For more information, or to view a lineup of fall Parks and Recreation class offerings, visit www.westbloomfieldparks.org or call (248) 451-1900.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Robin Ruehlen at rruehlen@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1105.