Nicodemus Wilderness Project
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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Independence Lake County Park, Whitmore Lake, Michigan, USA

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Independence Lake County Park, Whitmore Lake, Michigan, USA
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TheMiniRocketeer



Registered: November 2016
City/Town/Province: Whitmore Lake
Posts: 1
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I am a seventeen year-old amateur herpetologist and avid wildlife photographer from Southeastern Michigan. I have been captivated by the outdoors for as long as I can remember. Several years ago I was introduced to herpetology, the study of reptiles and amphibians. This field of study has become so interesting to me that it has compelled me to raise awareness of the perils these animals face. Taking photos of these creatures is one such way to get people to see things the way I see them. I try to take the most beautiful photos I can with the intention that people will admire these cold-blooded vertebrates, so that they will care about their conservation. I came up with the idea of coordinating a herpetology-themed nature walk at Independence Lake County Park to help educate my local community about the herpetofauna of the park. I contacted some of the Washtenaw County Park naturalists who I have met, and they loved the idea. I had my school, local park system, and friends share the event on social media so it could reach more people. I was unaware that the Nicodemus Wilderness Project existed. I organized this all of my own accord because I care about these animals so much.
The nature walk was scheduled for June 12, 2016 at Independence Lake County Park. Independence Lake has a variety of habitats. It has a fragment of the the native prairie habitat, with indigenous species of grasses and plants. It also has a large area of wetlands and marshland. These marshes are home to a species of special concern in the state, the Blanding’s Turtle. There are also half a dozen vernal pools on the property where various frog and salamander species breed in the spring. It was a great choice for a reptile and amphibian nature walk.
Seventeen people arrived for the walk. The nature walk began with a fifteen minute PowerPoint presentation I created on the herpetofauna of the park. We then moved onto the nature trails. After twenty minutes of searching, I discovered two Blue-Spotted Salamanders underneath a plywood board. I handed out nitrile gloves to everyone and allowed them to gently hold the delicate animals. Everyone was intrigued by the little ambystomids. We continued along the nature trails of the park, coming across several Northern Green Frogs, an Eastern Garter Snake, and even a few Common Map Turtles. The adults and children in attendance were very excited to see the turtle, and were eager to learn about it. I myself was happy to see the turtle, but concerned that we found both in a relatively new parking lot. A water park was recently constructed where a previously sandy soil had been. Turtles would often utilize the soft soil to lay their eggs, but now all that remains is asphalt and concrete. I have since seen several dozen dead turtles in the parking lot. I have been diligently working with the park to help protect these turtles, but it is proving difficult to convince people not to run over animals.
It is important to continue protecting natural spaces so that animals have a refuge and the indigenous species of plants have a place to flourish. With the increasing development of wetland environments and habitat fragmentation, it is more and more important to remain vigilant in the struggle to ensure that at-risk species receive the attention they need. Reptiles and amphibian conservation is not as popular as mammal and bird, because many people have innate fears of these animals. I often try to tell people that their preference of animal shouldn’t dictate the biodiversity of the planet. I instilled everyone who attended the nature walk with a greater understanding of the cold-blooded vertebrates around us. I hope to lead another nature walk in the spring of 2017 at a local preserve. It is because of my constant endeavors to conserve these animals and educate others about them that I am considering a future career in ecology or wildlife conservation.
· Date: November 13, 2016 · Views: 4645 · File size: 22.8kb, 1700.3kb · : 1731 x 1154 ·
Hours Volunteered: 9
Volunteers: 3
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 17 & 30 to 60
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