Events uncover Oak Openings treasures
Tired of the tame? Ready to jump in with the authentic and gritty? Or maybe just seeking unique, entertaining activities to share with family and friends. Find all that create memories during Blue Week, a nature extravaganza highlighting the treasures of the Oak Openings Region.
Oak Openings? Isn’t that a park? Yes — but also much more. The Oak Openings Region in northwest Ohio, almost 7000 acres, hosts some of the rarest ecosystems on the planet. It’s home to landscapes, plants, and animals that live nowhere else, except right here. Incidentally, some of these plants and animals — like the blue lupine, the blue spotted salamander and the Karner Blue butterfly — are (you guessed it) blue. Thus the name, Blue Week.
According to Ashlee Decker of the Green Ribbon Initiative which, along with other conservation partners, sponsors Blue Week, many in the area aren’t aware of these wild neighbors. “Blue Week gives the public a chance to experience the natural wonders of the Oak Openings Region firsthand,” Decker said. “The events showcase the beauty of the region. We hope they also inspire conservation by businesses, organizations and individual landowners.”
Blue Week events are scheduled from May 9 through May 20 throughout the area, including southeast Michigan. Most of Blue Week is free and very family-friendly. Consider: You can do a walking search for local butterflies or birds while learning about their lives, or explore a wetlands area and learn how it helps filter the drinking water we all depend on. You can buy native plants to beautify your garden, buzz along with the bumblebees, let arrows fly in an archery class, or the kids can master the calls of frogs and compete for prizes in a unique evening program. And that’s just a sample of the activities.
Blue Week’s 2018 keynote speaker is internationally famed wildlife tracker Susan Morse, the founder of Keeping Track®. She’ll be sharing her lifetime of outdoor experiences on May 17 at Michigan’s Bedford High School ($5 to attend), as well as leading two daylong tracking workshops on May 18 and 19, focused on the wild creatures living alongside our human communities. The workshops, which cost $40, are open to all ages.
As Decker noted, “What you see today in the Oak Openings Region are the only remnants of what was once a vast area of oak savannas, flatwoods and wet prairies. The 1 percent that remains represents some of the most rare natural communities on the planet.” Thanks to the Green Ribbon Initiative, you can immerse yourself in these treasures and have fun doing it. You might even end up yelling, “Go Blue Week!”
Blue Week runs from Wednesday, May 9 through Sunday, May 20. Registration required for Susan Morse presentation and for tracking workshops. To register, and for the full list of Blue Week events, visit oakopenings.org/blue-week.