Recreation Vs. Preservation

Recreation Vs. Preservation

8 min read

Striking just the right balance makes for happy visitors and habitats

Parks and recreation is all about balance. While there is a desire to provide guests with access to an abundance of recreational opportunities, Michigan’s Oakland County Parks staff members also recognize it’s important to care for the land to which the public entrusts them, making natural-resources efforts a top priority.

“We’ve had many discussions internally about how we can meet the current recreation needs without compromising the integrity of the land for future generations,” Chief of Natural Resources and Sustainability Sarah Cook-Maylen says. “Preserving land and open space quickly emerged as a top priority, but so did providing places for people to gather together, enjoy nature, and just be in fresh air outdoors.”

Oakland County Parks (OCP) has worked diligently to be a good steward of the nearly 8,000 acres it manages. Located north of the Detroit metropolitan region, the 15-park system recently designated six of its parks as nature preserves to better reflect their intended usage and more clearly define the organization’s core values that include caring for the natural environment and building a community resilience to climate change.

“Nature preserves are homes to precious ecosystems that not only tell us a lot about the past, but that can also be harbingers for the future. There’s a rich ecological diversity there that is designed to thrive on its own, but with today’s environmental impacts, must be protected. We achieve this by planning in-house projects with our talented staff, working with contractors who are experts in their field, and reaching out to partners to assess challenges they are facing within their local communities. We are confident that this multi-layered approach is creating a strong and healthy environment for the birds, insects, fish, wildlife, plants, and trees that call our parks home.”