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‘Pics of the Parks’ show off county’s natural play spaces

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published November 11, 2015

 Martha Myers, of Oxford, won best in show for this photo titled “Fishing for Lily Pads.”

Martha Myers, of Oxford, won best in show for this photo titled “Fishing for Lily Pads.”

Photo provided by Destination Oakland

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OAKLAND COUNTY — Diane Wilks, of Rochester Hills, has been going to Independence Oaks Park in Clarkston for years. The vast natural space is special to her for more than a few reasons.

“It’s just one of my favorite places; it’s awesome. I was going through a hard time years ago, and my boyfriend at the time would take me to that park to go on walks,” said Wilks. “Later, he proposed to me there, and we’ve been married to this day.”

Wilks’ affinity for Independence Oaks could be felt through the beautiful photograph she took of the park’s shoreline, titled “Stairway to Nature.” The image was so impressive that it took first place in the Parks category of this year’s Pics of the Parks contest.

The second annual competition is an effort of Oakland County Parks and Recreation to encourage guests to get outside and enjoy all that their parks system has to offer. Since July, the parks department has been collecting submissions of photos taken within Oakland County’s 13 parks, and recently, the top shots were announced with an exhibition at Somerset Collection in Troy.

Jon Noyes, principal planner for Oakland County Parks and Recreation, said it was good fun sifting through all the submissions in categories like recreation, selfies and kids.

“The staff of the Oakland County Parks puts heart and soul in our work and the recreational experiences that we help create. One of my favorite things about the photo contest is that we get a chance to see our parks through the eyes — and, yes, lenses — of some of our guests,” he said in an email. “Birds and butterflies, dogs and docks, glowing sunsets and goofy kids — it is just really neat to step back and see the wonder that is happening all around us. What an amazing job that we have here in parks, when (we) can play a part in something that means so much to so many.”

Wilks’ special space certainly means a lot to her, as it’s one of the few spots she can go to and find relief from the stresses of daily life.

“It’s just one of my favorite places in the park,” she said of her photo, which depicts a staircase descending down to the water. “I love to walk around that lake. In the winter, I love to cross-country ski around that lake. It’s one of the places I like to stop and look out at the water, take a breath and enjoy.”

Other local winners include Jennifer Lavender-Scott, of Ferndale, who took third place in the Kids category; and Tim Srock, of Rochester Hills, who took first place in the Action category. Wilks also took second place in the Recreation category.

To see all the photos, visit Oakland County Parks’ Facebook page. You can find a link to the page on their website, www.DestinationOakland.com.

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