One of our nation’s largest urban parks, Millennium Park expands across Grand Rapids, Walker, Grandville and Wyoming. Stretching across 1,400 acres, this vast park is rich in natural resources, and has a vibrant atmosphere that welcomes people from all over the county year-round.
Millennium Park truly has something for everyone. Activities available include:
· Picnics and Group Events
· Nature Observation
· Cross Country Skiing
The trails within Millennium Park stretch for 18 miles, but one of the most beloved portions of trail is the “Hansen Nature Trail”. Funding for the boardwalk came from a donation by the Hansen family in memory of Sandy Hansen, a park supporter who passed away in January 2014.
On May 20, from 10am to 3pm, families are invited to join us at “Discover Millennium Park,” a family-friendly event that is free and showcases the Hansen Nature Trail as well as the wildlife that call the park home. With the help of trail-side experts, families will discover the natural history of the park and learn about:
- Birds, Mammals, Reptiles
- Ponds and why they were created
- History of the people of the area
- And more!
Whether you attend Discover ‘Millennium Park” or visit the park on your own, you’re sure to discover something magical!
To learn more about the event and find out tips on transportation, visit the “Discover Millennium Park” website
The Kent County Parks Foundation and Grand Rapids Bicycle Company present the "Kent County Parks Tour" on Sunday July 30, 2017. Cyclists of all ages and abilities are invited to join us for a fun ride that showcases our Kent County parks and trails. The ride begins at Roselle Park in Ada, with various routes that feature different lengths, difficulty, and scenery to suit all riders, with rest stops at various Kent County park.
Kent County Parks Foundation Executive Director Kate Meyer shares tips and tricks for cold weather hiking in this blog post that debuted in West Michigan Woman....
Winter in Michigan is breathtakingly beautiful, and the parks and trails that we love to visit in the warmer months are transformed into new venues that allow us to explore the outdoors in myriad ways. All too often, however, once the holidays have past and the novelty of snow has worn off, we become less active and go into hibernation. It takes a little more motivation to get bundled up and hit the trails—but once you get out there, you won't regret it!
Basic tips for an enjoyable experience.
- Winter activities can get you surprisingly heated up. Wearing wet or sweaty clothes is not only uncomfortable, it can be dangerous. To make sure you stay warm and dry, layer up in this order:
- A base layer that wicks moisture off your body.
- An insulating layer, like a fleece jacket.
- A shell that helps to keep you dry and stops the wind from penetrating your core.
- A good pair of hiking socks, made of wool blends or synthetic fabrics that will wick moisture away from your skin and, when wet, retain heat and dry quickly.
- Wear tall hiking boots or use gaiters to keep snow from entering your shoes.
- Avoid cotton for all layers. Cotton absorbs sweat and moisture easily, then stays wet against your skin, causing your body temperature to drop quickly.
- Bring a backpack to store food, water and any layers that you may have to temporarily remove along the way.
- Stay hydrated by packing plenty of water or—better yet—hot tea or cocoa! Avoid water bottles with straws that may freeze and grab an open mouth container. For extended hikes or really cold days, insulate the bottle by putting it inside a wool sock.
- There's nothing worse than cold fingers, so invest in some instant hand warmers to place in your gloves. They're cheap and you won't regret it.
Have kids in tow?
Often parents dream of taking the family outdoors to play in the snow and have an unforgettable experience out on the trails. Here are a few tips to ensure that you have a hike to remember—for the right reasons!
- Always plan for the littlest legs. Map out your hike with the youngest in your group in mind, and then shorten the walk if there is snow. Remember: You can always choose a shorter loop and extend the hike if everyone still has energy.
- Pack freeze-proof snacks and water. Winter hiking burns a lot of calories and you'll want to keep little ones nourished, so they have plenty of energy.
- Bring trekking poles or collect walking sticks to help everyone stay balanced. Having a parent and a child hold onto a segment of rope helps keep everyone at the same pace and moving along.
Hiking with kids can be a great experience. Just remember not to push it too hard the first time. If everyone enjoys themselves, you can always do it again or take a longer trip next time. It's about quality time, not quantity.
Find your trail experience.
While there are many places in West Michigan that are perfect for winter hiking, here are some suggested locations for beginners:
- Provin Trails lies just outside the Grand Rapids city limits and features a mix of dense pine stands and open sand barrens along trails that wind through scenic hills and valleys. Provin is a great nearby getaway for some scenic winter exercise.
- Hemlock Crossing in West Olive is a great place to take the family as it offers snowshoe rentals for adults and children (4+) at the Nature Education Center. Guided walks are available throughout the winter, and visitors are invited to warm up in front of a fire in the Great Room after their snowy outing!
- Ludington State Park offers lantern-lit ski and snowshoe hikes over the snow-covered forested sand dunes on Saturdays in January and February, which make the perfect romantic date. Snowshoes are available to borrow, but you have to bring your own skis.
Explore new legs.
For more information about parks and trails near you, visit these websites:
- Kent County Parks
- Michigan Trails Magazine
- Ottawa County Parks
- Michigan State Parks Trails and Pathways
Kate Meyer is the Executive Director of the Kent County Parks Foundation, the nonprofit support organization that helps expand and enhance parks and trails in Kent County. She is a self-proclaimed "nature nerd" and loves inspiring people to get outdoors, regardless of their abilities or experience.
It’s the season for giving and cross country skiing. Did you know that every winter the Kaufman Golf Course at Palmer Park gets turned into a hotspot for cross country skiing? The course offers three beginner level loops of groomed trails that span 2 miles each. If you get too cold on your journey you can take a break in the clubhouse for snacks, beverages, ski rentals, and a much needed hot cocoa. If you’re just out for the day, the trail cost is $2 per person, or you can ski all winter long with a $25 season pass!
For seasoned skiers who appreciate a challenge, Kent County has 10 other parks with over 50 miles of ungroomed trails to discover. Pickerel Lake Park offers a 2 mile trail that circles the scenic lake. Provin Trails Park lets you ski beneath 46 acres of tall Michigan pines. Millennium Park has several loops, totaling nearly 18 miles of flat, natural terrain. At Donald J. Lamoreau Park you can find several lowland loops and even ski along the Grand River! Even in the winter each park has something unique and beautiful to offer. Find which park your skis want to discover at http://www.kentcountyparks.org/trails/crosscountryskitrails.php
As the temperatures start to drop and the leaves start to change, consider Fallasburg Park in Lowell for your fall color destination. The scenic covered bridge that makes this park and the historical district famous is a beautiful addition to fall color photos worthy of postcards and calendars. Share your photos this season by tagging @kcpfoundation on Facebook, or @kentcountyparksfoundation on Instagram! We love seeing the art the community makes out of our parks’ scenery.
Did you know Fallasburg Park and the Fallasburg Historic District used to be a village? Maintained by the Fallasburg Historical Society, two museums and several historic sites from Fallasburg Village are adjacent to the park (on the south side of Covered Bridge Rd). According to the Historical Society, the district preserves what life was like for early Michigan settlers. More information about the history and settling of this area, including Mr. Fallass himself, can be found on the Fallasburg Historical Society’s website.
The covered bridge at Fallasburg is one of the few remaining in Michigan. Some interesting facts about this historical landmark:
- The bridge was completed in 1871 for a cost of $1500 (that’s around $36,000 in today’s money when adjusted for inflation).
- There’s record of at least two other bridges built before the covered bridge over the Flat River, but those were victims to flooding and ice jams.
- The bridge was built by Jared N. Bresee, a bridge builder from Ada
- The timbers of the bridge are white pine from Greenville
- The roof and siding of the covered bridge protect the timbers from rot
- The covered bridge became a National Historical Landmark on March 16, 1972
More information about the covered bridge can be found on the Fallasburg Historical Society’s website.
Originally called Grand River Park, Chief Hazy Cloud Park in Ada joined the Kent County Parks family in 1927. When the park opened, it was only 1.45 acres, but offered access to the river which made it a popular spot in its early years.
Chief Hazy Cloud Park has expanded three more times since 1927, with the most recent addition in 2008, and now the park is looking to expand again. The first phase of the multi-year, four-phase project would add an additional 145 acres to the park’s current 122-acre footprint, making it one of the largest parks in our system. The following three phases involve developing the park for recreational use by adding trails and boardwalks through the natural areas and additional parking as well as restrooms and picnic facilities.
Land survey data from 1800 to 1992 shows that the land in Chief Hazy Cloud and the proposed addition have been left in their natural state. By making this land part of the park, we will protect native plant and animal species as well as provide an opportunity to share our unique riverbank environment with future generations.
If you would like to experience the Grand River and proposed addition to Chief Hazy Cloud, come along with our executive director, Kate Meyer, on a kayak tour this October. Each tour is limited to 7 kayakers, and RSVP with Kate is required. If you’re interested in one of the tours, please contact Kate at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about the tours can be found on our events page.
Did you know parks and greenspaces near and on riverbanks can help protect us from extreme flooding? By leaving the area around streams and rivers vegetated, we provide a place for stormwater and snowmelt to seep into the ground and be taken up by plants instead of piped through drainage systems right into the river. This greatly reduces the rate at which water is added to the river, which means the water levels won’t rise as quickly, causing it to flood less often and less severely. The proposed addition to Chief Hazy Cloud would provide an additional mile of river frontage to the park.
If you would like to donate to Project Chief Hazy Cloud, check out our Donate page or contact Kate Meyer for more information
KCPF is teaming up with the Grand Rapids Disc Golfers Unite club (GRDGU) to fundraise for a complete renovation of the disc golf course in Johnson Park in Walker.
Project Johnson is a crowdfunding effort on Razoo that is hoping to reach a goal of $10K in the next two months to replace all 18 baskets and tee pads as well as add 2 practice baskets and several trash cans throughout the course. The baskets on the course unfortunately had to be removed due to vandalism, and disc golfers aim to hit large wooden stakes between two painted lines to count for a hole in their place.
Funds will go towards the cost of new baskets, tee pads and tee markers, trash cans, and rental fees for installation equipment. A complete breakdown of the costs can be found on the Razoo page linked above.
Johnson Park’s disc golf course will be featured in the upcoming 2017 Professional Disc Golf Association Masters World Championships—so this renovation will come just in time for this special event! The renovation also encourages people to get involved with their community and, when finished, promote an activity that’s fun for all ages and skill levels.
By donating to Project Johnson, you support all of these causes, and KCPF and GRDGU want to make sure you can show it off. Donating at certain levels on our Razoo page can get you perks and swag, and donating at higher levels includes all previous levels’ perks.
- $25 - Project Johnson Mini Marker: Custom-stamped Project Johnson mini marker disc that signifies you as a donor
- $50 - Immortalized: Your name permanently crafted onto the course welcome sign
- $100 - Limited Edition Disc: 1 of 50 Gateway Wizard classic putter discs custom-stamped with Project Johnson; collector numbers are randomized
- $250 - Hoodie/Hat Pro Pack: Custom-made hoodie and baseball cap with Project Johnson logo
- $750 - Buy a Hole: Sponsor an entire hole and have your name or the name of your business/club on both the basket and tee marker
Not only can you help us by donating to the Razoo, you can also register for a singles tournament to be held at Brewer Park on October 1st. This tournament is hosted by the Flight Risk Disc Golf Club and sponsored by GR Hobby & Disc Golf, and proceeds will benefit Project Johnson. Men’s and Women’s leagues are available at a variety of skill levels and includes a juniors’ competition. Players will play through all 18 holes at Brewer’s course. More information about this event can be found on its Disc Golf Scene page. Questions about the event should be directed to Brandon at email@example.com or Alex at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about disc golf, check out our previous blog.
For more information about Project Johnson and to see disc golfers in action, enjoy this video by Grand Rapids Disc Golfers Unite:
Mark your calendars for September 15th and join us for our seventh annual “Something’s Grilling Gala” to benefit our Kent County parks!
This casual event recognizes the work of community leaders to help preserve Kent County’s natural areas and provide outdoor recreation spaces. The event is held at Millennium Park every other year, and half of the proceeds go directly to this park to continue expanding and enhancing this beautiful gem! Did you know that Millennium Park is one of our nation’s largest urban parks, and is almost twice the size of Central Park in New York City!?
Honorary event co-chairs, Peter Secchia and John Canepa, will host this year’s “grilling” of Dick & Betsy DeVos, Dan & Pamella DeVos, Cheri DeVos, and Doug & Maria DeVos for their integral role in the development of Millennium Park.
Since 2004, Something’s Grilling has raised over $900,000 in support of our county parks and trails—and this year we want to invite you to be part of it! Tickets are on sale now, and there are still opportunities to become a sponsor and show your support! Save your seat as soon as possible—space is limited and we will sell out!
This year we will be celebrating the grand opening of “The Meadow,” the latest development at Millennium Park, thanks to the generosity of Peter Secchia! Something’s Grilling is the perfect event to showcase the new pavilion, boardwalk, and natural beauty that makes The Meadow a grand addition to the park. The Meadow is located directly across from the main entrance to the park off of Maynard Ave.
Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres begin at 6pm with dinner following at 7pm, and the program beginning at 8pm.
Something's Grilling would not be a success without our many volunteers who have helped over the years. We would love to have your help. Sign up HERE.
The prairie restoration in Luton Park is blooming this month!
Luton Park in Rockford is known for it’s amazing mountain biking trails, but this park also hosts a unique Michigan landscape: a prairie restoration. Only 1% of Michigan’s natural prairie remains, and Luton Park’s restoration converted farmland back into its near-pre-settlement state. The land in this park had been traditionally farmed since the late-1800’s, but land survey records showed that, before settlement, the park area was largely oak forest and savanna—a prairie with oak trees in it.
The area wasn’t being regularly farmed and had become overgrown with weeds by 2007 when the prairie restoration started. In order to remove the weeds, the land was farmed for three more years—one of those crops being soybean, which introduced nitrogen back into the soil. The nitrogen provided a nutrient boost for the seeds planted in the spring of 2010.
Seeding introduced native grasses and wildflowers to the land, and the overlook decks, accessible from the Kies Street trail head, were installed in 2012.
The prairie restoration in Luton Park has brought back native plant species and been a great source of food and habitat for wildlife. It is a great place to spot wildlife, especially for birdwatchers in spring when woodcocks are performing mating flights. The prairie and park is home to many wildlife species and plants, and it is a beautiful quiet escape from busy urban areas.
Mid-July is peak bloom season for the prairie’s flowering plants. This month, find these wildflowers blooming in the prairie:
- Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberose)
- Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
- Motherwort (Leonurus cardiac)
- Wild Bergamot (Monad fistulosa)
- Grey-headed Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata)
- Black-eyed Susan
- Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
- Common St. Johnswort (Hypericum perforatum)
- Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus)
- Spotted Bee Balm (Monad Punctata)
- Pale Beard Tongue (Penstemon plaids)
- Dogbane (Apocynum cannabinum)
- Sensitive Plant (Desmanthus illinoensis)
Prairie Quick Facts:
– Prairie grasses help increase groundwater recharge because of their deep root systems that allow water to percolate down into soil.
– Prairies are homes to a variety of birds like wild turkeys, bluebirds, bobwhite quail, meadowlarks, and many types of songbirds and ground-nesting birds.
– Prairies provide a key food source for wildlife because they’re abundant in seeds and insects.
Don’t forget—July is National Parks and Recreation Month! Celebrate by visiting Luton Park, or any one of our 38 parks and 4 regional trails.
Special thanks to Kent County Parks Department landscape architect, Brian Mulligan, for providing information on the the restoration project, and Sally Traint for the photos and identification of the flowers.
Good things are happening this July in Millennium Park!
The Hansen Boardwalk is complete and now open to use! This 500ft boardwalk connects the Hansen Nature Trail to the main recreation core in the park, specifically the purple loop of the Sandy Hansen Shoreline Trails. Special thanks to Mr. Dick Hansen, whose contributions made this boardwalk possible.
Later this month, the Meadows will open up to the public! This new development in Millennium Park will be open Friday, July 29th and feature a large event pavilion, restrooms, open fields, new trails, and an extensive grassy amphitheater.
Special thanks to Mr. Peter Secchia for contributions that make this new development possible. We can’t wait to see the finished product!
The Meadows is on the east side of Maynard Ave across from the main recreation where off-season parking was. This development will also be the venue for our 7th Something’s Grilling Gala with honorary event hosts Peter Secchia and John Canepa. More information about KCPF’s largest fundraiser can be found on our events page.
Millennium Park is the perfect summer park for all ages and outdoor activities. Visit the Kent County Parks Department website for more information on our largest county-owned park!
June 20-24 is Active Commute Week here in Grand Rapids!
Active Commute Week GR is motivating commuters to break out of the transportation rut and try a new way to get to work. Mix up your morning commute by taking the bus, carpooling with friends, riding your bike, walking, or even longboarding or rollerblading to the office! You can sign up as an individual or get your whole workplace involved and form a team. Log your time and distances for alternate commutes all week long, and prizes will be awarded to the top individuals and teams.
On Friday, June 24, from 7-9pm, bike trains will be led by experienced bicycle commuters from around the Grand Rapids area to Monument Park downtown. Pit Stops along these routes will offer refreshments and drawings for prizes for active commuters.
KCPF is hosting our own Pit Stop at the corner of Fulton and Valley by the John Ball Zoo. Be sure to visit us on the “Wild Westside” for refreshments and some prize drawings. We're the only Pit Stop on the West Bike Train!
At the end of the week, join everyone for drinks at the wrap-up party, Handlebar Happy Hour, at Long Road Distillers from 4:30-7:30pm. Prizes will be given to the individuals and teams who logged the most time and farthest distances, and door prizes will also be drawn for.
Active commutes don’t just have to be to and from work or school. Anywhere you’d normally drive—the grocery store, bank, salon, etc.—take an alternate transportation and log it.
Alternate commutes get our bodies moving and are good for our environment as they help reduce carbon emissions. This is especially important in the summer, and be sure to watch for Clean Air Action Days this season to help lower air pollution.
Summer is here, and after a chilly winter, we’re ready to get to the beach!
We love Lake Michigan, but getting out to the shoreline can be a long drive—especially during construction season. When the jaunt to Grand Haven is just too far, remember you can still have a beautiful beach day at four of our Kent County Parks!
Long Lake, Myers Lake, Wabasis, and Millennium Park all offer swimming beaches right here in Kent County. Millennium Park has an affordable daily admission fee, with season passes available, but the other beaches in our parks system are free to use! If you'd rather stay dry and still enjoy the water, all these parks also having areas for fishing.
Long Lake Park just off Krauskopf in Sparta offers a sandy beach for park goers on the northeast corner of the lake. The beach hosts a playground for the kids when they want a break from the water but aren’t ready to call it a day. You can also find two fishing areas around the lake and a boat launch for non-motorized boats. Long Lake Park is a quiet place and perfect for a serene, relaxing day by the water.
If you don’t want sand in your shoes forever, Myers Lake Park in Rockford offers a grassy bank beach. Changing rooms and restrooms sit between the parking lot and the beach. The park has plenty of picnic tables, too, so be sure to pack a lunch! If fishing is more your style, you can wade in and fish for sunfish and crappies. The beach is open from 8am to 8pm Monday-Friday, opens early at 7:30am on Saturday and Sunday, and the park is open until 9pm daily.
Wabasis Lake Park’s sandy beach stretches for 300ft of shoreline and covers an acre total area. There’s a beachhouse with changing facilities and restrooms along the path from the parking lot to the lakeshore. Sand volleyball courts are also located along the path, and a playground and swing set are on the beach as well. The campground store is a short walk from the parking lot and offers a place to get snacks, beach toys, ice, and sunscreen if you forgot yours!
If you're feeling adventurous, this park also hosts the only public boat launch for Wabasis Lake. Fish in this park include black crappies, bluegills, large and smallmouth bass, rock bass, walleyes, and yellow perch. You can take your boat out to cast a line or wade in from the shore.
For a few dollars, you can also spread your towel at Millennium Park’s beach. Sandy beach along the Millennium Lake shoreline covers six acres of the park and features a big Splashpad for the kids. Food, ice cream, and snacks are available at the concession stand in the Van Andel Beach House, as well as restrooms, changing rooms, lockers, and picnic tables. If you don't want to get your feet wet, cast your line off one of the many fishing decks in the park. You can also rent paddle boats, canoes, and more for use on the 100-acre lake. You’ll forget you’re only a few minutes from downtown Grand Rapids at this beach!
Get your beach on this summer at Kent County Parks!
Millennium Park has been called the “Crown Jewel” of our parks system, yet there is still much to discover! This large urban park covers almost 1500 acres – nearly twice the size of Central Park in New York City! Visitors can experience unique wetlands, fishing ponds, a beach, splash pad, and a myriad of accessible trails right off of the main entrance to the park. Boat and kayak rentals are fun for the family as well as the playgrounds and picnic shelters.
What many people don’t not know is that there is another side to Millennium Park, one that is a little slower paced and allows visitors a chance to see wildlife and enjoy a little peace and quiet. The Hansen Nature Trail is just over a half-mile long, but it connects to more than 20 miles of the Fred Meijer Millennium Trail Network within the park as well as the Kent Trails system and a Grand Rapids City Trail along Wealthy St. SE.
On May 21st Kent County Parks Department and the Master Naturalist program through MSU Extension are teaming up for “Discover Millennium Park!” This experiential family event for kids of ALL ages runs from 10 am to 3 pm. It includes a “discovery” trail walk, to learn about a variety of nature-related topic, such as:
• The birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians that make their home along the Hansen Nature Trail.
• The variety of native and non-native trees, plants and wildflowers around the park.
• The unique ponds, and why they were created.
• The history of the area.
• Kids get a trail guide, stamped at each station, and entered into a drawing for a free “Discover! Millennium Park” t-shirt!
The event is at Millennium Park, on the Hansen Nature Trail, NOT by the beach. There are multiple ways to get to the event! Get here by:
BUS! Take The Rapid bus 12, 18, or 50 to John Ball Zoo, get off at Fulton and Lane or Garfield (www.ridetherapid.org/ride/routes/12). Walk a block or so to John Ball Zoo's south parking lot. Catch the FREE TROLLEY to Hansen Nature Trail and back. Be there between 9:45 am and 1:45 pm--the trolley will cycle back and forth until 3 pm. Many thanks to our anonymous donor!
BIKE! Ride the Fred Meijer Millennium or Kent Trail to the event.
CAR! Park on mowed grass at Butterworth St SW and Riverbend Dr SW, Grand Rapids MI 49534, or alongside Riverbend Dr.
WALK! Park in Millennium Park's big parking lot by the beach. If you park at the far end of the lot by the boathouse, walk West about 2/3 mile (1 km). If you park by the playgrounds and picnic shelters, the event will be a full mile away.
Thank you to Kent County Parks, Kent County Parks Foundation, Kent Garden Club, Dean Transpiration, Michigan DNR, and Tri-Beta for making Discover! Millennium Park happen this year.
Make sure to follow Discover Millennium Park on Facebook (insert hyperlink on the word facebook (www.facebook.com/DisoverParksEvent)
For any further questions please call Kent County Parks foundation at
616-632-7842. or email Kate Meyer at email@example.com
It’s almost that time to start brushing the dust off your Frisbee because starting May 1st Brewer Park officially opens for disc golf! Brewer Park is known for its challenging courses, and there are 2 to choose from.
Disc Golf is played like regular golf but instead of clubs and a ball, the players use a frisbee. The object of the game is to get the Frisbee into an elevated metal basket, the “hole.” Once you throw the frisbee you continue to throw it from where it lands until you make it in the basket. Just like golf, the person with the fewest throws wins.
Disc golf is gaining in popularity because it is easy to learn yet still challenging. It’s also affordable and anyone can play!
If disc golf is not your thing head over to Douglas Walker Park, one of our most active parks that also has open field to play ultimate frisbee on. Ultimate Frisbee has some similarities to football and is played with seven players on each team. Each team attempts to score goals by getting the Frisbee in the opposing team’s end zone. Unlike football, the players cannot run down the field with the Frisbee, they must pass it to teammates. Ultimate Frisbee is a non-contact sport, which makes it fun for everyone.
According to USA Ultimate, the governing body of the sport in the United States, ultimate is a great way to build character because “ultimate develops acceptance of responsibility for one’s own behavior because players make their own calls, participation develops character, self-reliance, listening, and negotiating skills and leadership qualities (USAultimate, 2015).”
Right here in Grand Rapids we have our very own ultimate teams. They provide opportunities to learn, play, and teach spirited ultimate in the greater Grand Rapids area through league play, tournaments, and organized pickup. Registration is now open to players of the ages of 16 and up.
For more information about Grand Rapids Ultimate, visit grandrapidsultimate.org!
Spring is in the air, which means that both people and our animal friends are starting to move about. It’s a time of awakening, and for those of us in the conservation world, we start to see an influx of people coming out of the woodwork after a cold winter to enjoy our regions’ natural resources.
Spring is the time for us to celebrate a fresh start, and in that light, we encourage everyone who is fortunate to call Kent County home to explore a new park. There are 38 Kent County Parks and numerous other city and township parks nearby. In addition, there are nature preserves and a myriad of trail networks that connect us to nature, and to each other.
In the spirit of spring, we are also kicking off new partnerships with several environmental organizations in our region. Please save the date for the 2016 Grand Rapids Conservation Collective on March 31st, from 4:30pm-6:30pm at The Cheney Place, 1600 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids.
Joining KCPF at the event is Blandford Nature Center, Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, John Ball Zoo, Land Conservancy of West Michigan, West Michigan Environmental Action Council, Michigan League of Conservation Voters, Lower Grand River Organization of Watersheds, and The Kent County Parks Department Volunteer Services.
The 2016 Grand Rapids Conservation Collective is an opportunity for current and future volunteers, members, and supporters of the participating organizations to learn more about region-wide volunteer opportunities as well as upcoming projects that will positively impact the environment in West Michigan. Whether protecting water, preserving land, engaging volunteers, or educating us about the natural world, these organizations could not be successful without the support of our community.
Drinks and light refreshments will be provided and this event is free to attend. Live music will also be provided by Wake Up Autum.
We hope that you can join us on March 31st and that you will be inspired to get outdoors this spring!
For more information check out our Facebook event.
February is the season for love. This month we reflect upon the special people in our lives and the special places that we hold dear. For many of us, parks and natural spaces are the venue where life's milestones take place. There's just something about the beauty of nature that connects us to each other and makes us thankful for friends and family.
Weddings are popular at our county parks, with ceremonies filling the enclosed shelters at Fallasburg Park, Townsend Park, Wabasis Lake Park, and Johnson Park spring through fall. Our Executive Director, Kate Meyer held her wedding at Wabasis Lake Park last summer after falling in love with the moss carpeted forest surrounding the shelter. Friends and family gathered among the towering oaks as she and her husband exchanged vows.
This February, we encourage you to make a gift to your favorite park in honor of a loved one. We’ll send you a special digital valentine to share to celebrate your gift.
Photo courtesy of Chris Vanderlip
Thanks to the help of the Kent County Parks Foundation and our generous supporters, we kicked off the new year by assisting the Kent County Parks Department with the exciting acquisition of 170 acres of rolling fields, woods and wetlands to expand the future Two Rivers Park in southeast Kent County! Two Rivers is one of a few green spaces the the county is holding that eventually will become new parks for future generations to enjoy. This future park is so named because of its location at the confluence of the Coldwater and Thornapple Rivers. Many thanks to all of the partners who helped make this purchase possible, including the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, Caledonia Township, the Wege Foundation, thePeter C and Emajean Cook Foundation, and many individual donors!
The Kent County Parks Foundation announced today that it has elected new officers and added new board members.
The nonprofit dedicated to supporting the park system in Kent County said the new officers will serve a two-year term. They are:
· President: Jim Conner, vice president of business development at Triangle Associates
· Vice president: Denise Kolesar, president of Kohler Expos, which promotes West Michigan Women’s Expo and other consumer shows
· Secretary: Tom Amon, an attorney at Warner Norcross & Judd LLP, who is also a new board member
· Treasurer: Betsy Haller, first vice president at Chemical Bank
The new board members will serve a three-year term with the Kent County Parks Foundation, which is dedicated to expanding and improving parkland, protecting the environment and preserving open space in Kent County. In addition to Amon, the new board members are:
· Shelley Irwin, host and producer of the WGVU Morning Show
· Ellen Bristol, director of communications and public relations at Metro Health Hospital
· Todd Harvey, director of private bank sales and senior vice president at Fifth Third Bank
· Lynn Jarman-Johnson, chief marketing officer for Consumers Credit Union
· Bob Karel, lead listener at CQL
Lori Baker, a partner at Baker Holtz CPAs and Advisors, is stepping down from the board after 15 years of service, including two as president.
“Without Lori’s enthusiasm and dedication to our Kent County Parks, the Foundation would not be where it is today,” said Kate Meyer, executive director. “She has been an exceptional leader and ambassador for our parks over the years. We are so grateful for her unwavering support of the Foundation.”
The Kent County Parks Department has the rare opportunity to acquire four parcels of land for the undeveloped Two Rivers Park and Kent County Parks Foundation is excited to help out! This land creates such a wonderful opportunity for Kent County, considering a past study found the county's southeast region as having the greatest need for additional park and recreation facilities.
In addition, this park will be accessible, free for all to experience, and will preserve habitat for wildlife while also protecting water quality. Our goal is to raise $150,000 to assist the Kent County Parks Department with the purchase of 170 acres of land. However, we can only reach this goal with the help of the community.
We hope that our readers will pass along the word and consider a charitable contribution toward the Two Rivers park. To find out more information on the Two Rivers park, you can also visit our Razoo page or watch the short video below.