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Land & Wildlife

Wildness reminds us what it means to be human, what we are connected to rather than what we are separate from.

-Terry Tempest Williams

Dabbing in Water

Fellowfield Discovery Park is located on 10 acres of deciduous forest, brush, and seasonal wetlands in the Saline RIver Basin of the Raisin Watershed, Washtenaw County, Southeast Michigan. Lower elevations at the park’s east entrance give way to a gentle upward slope heading west. Throughout the park, deep, clay-loam soils and glacial deposits provide the habitat for native hardwood species, including ash, black cherry, elm, sycamore, hickory, oak, and maple. These soils are commonly used for farming in this region of Michigan.

More than 60 years ago, Katy’s great-grandparents drained the natural wetlands in this place and tilled the soil for farming on the eastern half of the site. This disturbance left areas vulnerable to the arrival of invasive species, such as common and glossy buckthorn, autumn olive, and multiflora rose, which took up residence and have long established themselves here.

In recent years, the wetlands have returned and expanded, reintroducing habitat for native water-loving plants, like cattails and duckweed, hazelnut trees, native willows, dogwoods, mushrooms, mosses and ferns. The smell of green growing things mingles with the earthy scent of rotting wood and rain. Waterfowl, songbirds, muskrats, bats, frogs and salamanders, turtles, dragonflies and other insects have been found calling, flying and swimming around the Park’s central pond and vernal pools.

Animals big and small travel through or make a home in Fellowfield’s forest, fields, and gardens. In warmer seasons, the air is filled with the buzz of bees and nesting birds. Spider webs stretch from one blade of grass to another and garter snakes slip quickly past. In the evening, crickets call and lightning bugs flash. Motion-sensitive cameras catch sight of a coyote passing through or a family of raccoons. When cold weather comes, the undergrowth clears away, opening up new areas to explore and patches of ice to play on. Bright red winterberries dot the western woodland with color. A mother deer and her fawn or a pair of young bucks snip off the ends of twigs and dig in the leaf litter for acorns, leaving deep hoof-prints in the soft soil.

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Wildlife Habitat

An important part of the Park’s mission will be to preserve and enhance wildlife habitat. There is much we can do to encourage a healthier and more diverse ecosystem, such as:

  • restoring native vegetation.

  • allowing the natural flow of water.

  • addressing sources of pollution.

  • installing wildlife-friendly lights.

  • adding features to encourage wildlife to spend time here.

  • limiting our human activity to ensure other life can be comfortable.

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