Goodrich Outdoor Learning Destination

Follow the path. Read about each special area at each numbered post .

1.  Prairie site - This site depicts a prairie. Originally prairies were scattered throughout the vast forests of Michigan. They supported many species of wildlife, including quail, badgers, deer, and meadowlarks. As Michigan was settled, the combination of farming and fire suppression led to the loss of over 90% of our native prairie. This prairie was replanted to provide habitat for the many species of wildlife that depend on it and to preserve this piece of our natural heritage for future generations.

2.  Meadow site - A meadow is an area that has short grasses and sometimes has scattered trees.  It has an edge habitat that attracts many species of animals.  An edge habitat is a place where two different habitats meet.  In this case the meadow is next to the forest, which makes an easy escape route for many smaller animals.  A meadow is a place for animals to graze, nest, breed, and seek shelter. Animals you might encounter here are rabbits, woodchucks, insects, and different species of birds. The nest boxes have attracted Eastern Bluebirds and Tree swallows.

3.  Oak Woodlot/Wildflower site - This site is an oak woodlot. Oak forests originally covered vast stretches of southern Michigan with soil that was too dry to support maple or beech. Oaks and hickories dominate these forests. Black cherry and white pine are often found there as well.  Oak forests provide food and shelter for squirrels, deer, wild turkeys and many species of songbirds. During the spring this site contains numerous woodland wildflowers Violets, trilliums, and Jack-in-the-pulpit brighten spring days in late April and May.  Throughout the summer, many other species of wildflowers will carpet the forest floor.

4.  Vernal Pond site - This site contains a type of wetland known as a vernal pond. Vernal ponds fill up with water in the spring but usually dry up by mid summer. Because they cannot support fish, they are valuable places for frogs, toads, and salamanders to lay their eggs and raise young. The lack of fish insures that the eggs and young are safe while they develop. Vernal ponds should be left undisturbed. Turning them into deep ponds or filling them in destroys much of their value as habitat for amphibians. 

5.  Pond Site - Ponds such as this one are scattered all across Michigan and provides places to swim, fish, and ice skate for people and are valuable wildlife habitat well. They provide resting and feeding places for ducks and geese, year round homes for turtles, and many support fish as well. At this site, watch out for poison ivy climbing on a tree and on the ground.  Look up to see our bat house, helping to control our mosquito population. 

6.  Farmer’s Dump/Tree Snags site. The rubbish/trash disposed of at site was deposited here nearly half of a century ago (50 years).  During this time frame trash collection like we use today was not common in rural areas. Farmers also found out that what might be broken or thrown into the dump may have a use in the future.  

7.  Tree snags - Standing dead or dying trees such as this one may look bad, but they are actually some of the best trees in the forest for wildlife. They provide nesting sites for woodpeckers. Once the woodpeckers leave, the nest sites are available to many types of wildlife, including songbirds, squirrels, raccoons, and owls, depending on the size of the hole. The trees are also full of insects that provide food for many types of wildlife.  Eventually the tree will fall providing habitat for the types of wildlife that need fallen logs.

8.  Sugar Bush site - This site was once used for collection of sugar maple sap and production of maple syrup.  A sugar shack building once stood here where a local farmer named Hegel produced maple syrup. In late winter, a tree’s sap begins flowing up through the tree’s veins from the roots, where it remains unfrozen all winter. (Sap is a watery liquid “food” produced with the tree’s vessel system.). The returning sap feeds the tree’s swelling buds, which will soon open into leaves. Sap can be collected and boiled down to form a rich, sugary syrup for eating. 

9.  Cattail Marsh site - Shallow marshes such as this one provide habitat for many types of wildlife. Because they have permanent water, they serve as winter homes for amphibians and turtles. They are also extremely important as homes for nesting ducks. Wood ducks nest in hollow trees like the one at the proceeding site and in special nesting boxes such as the one here. Another common resident of marshes are bats. They do people a great service by eating huge numbers of mosquitoes. Because they are so important to many types of wildlife marshes and other wetlands should be protected from destruction whenever possible. 

10.  Parking Lot Ecology site - There is a world of science here too. From cracks, small plants take hold when soil blows in.  Ants and other insects follow. 



11.  Planter Boxes site - The planter boxes were built and partially funded by the Goodrich PTO and the Goodrich Masons. This spot has been planted with perennial flowers to provide food for migrating songbirds in the fall. The sunflower seeds provide energy the birds need to make their way south each fall.


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