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Take a Hike!

Judy Wagley

JW: In the past months on “From the Ground Up!” we've been attempting to inspire you to get out into your yard and garden. But now that it's November, let's take a break and go out into Mother Nature's garden. I'm Judy Wagley, this is “From the Ground Up!” I'm at Sylvan Solace Nature Preserve with Mike LeValley. Mike is the executive director of the Chippewa Watershed Conservancy, and Sylvan Solace is one of 26 nature preserves. Thanks for joining me today. We're out on a beautiful day, it's sunny, and it's dry. So thanks for bringing the sunshine Mike.

ML: Yeah, thanks, Judy. Thanks for coming out; thanks for having me on the show.

Mike LeValley, Executive Director of the Chippewa Watershed Conservancy, led Judy Wagley on a walk at Sylvan Solace Natured Preserve.
Mike LeValley
Mike LeValley, Executive Director of the Chippewa Watershed Conservancy, led Judy Wagley on a walk at Sylvan Solace Natured Preserve.

JW: So we're just going to take a walk today and see what's in Mother Nature's garden on this beautiful afternoon. I'll just kind of let you guide me along here today.

ML: Sure. So we're actually going to head down a newer trail here at the preserve; this was only completed this year. We've got about two miles of trails on this property. And this one kind of goes off the beaten path a little bit, but we're just going to see what we can find as we go along. And I have no idea.

JW: That's the beautiful thing about getting out into nature, isn't it, Mike?

ML: Absolutely. From day to day, when I manage to get outdoors. I never have any idea what I'm gonna find. It's always a surprise.

JW: Mike, why is it important that we get out into nature, at least sometimes?

ML: You know, there's a lot of health benefits that scientists are just now starting to figure out. Even just like right now we're walking on an unpaved trail. This is one of the best things you can do for your physical health, because it's forcing you to use muscles that you're not normally using.

JW: That's true-- for balance.

ML: Yeah, absolutely. Walking through pines like we are right now--they're putting off volatile organic compounds that actually help improve your moods, especially this time of year, as we start to lose the sunlight, you know, have vitamin D deficiency, if you spend all your time indoors.

JW: Oh, yes, SAD.

ML: Yeah, you know, it's there, the seasonal affective disorder, and then the vitamin D that, you know, is essential for your health, and you can get it through diet, but your body produces it naturally.

JW: It feels good out here today, because it is a cool day, maybe upper 40s or so. And it's dry, we can hear the leaves crunching around. And it just smells so good to take nice, deep breaths feels so good.

ML: It’s always good to get outdoors. No matter what the conditions are. Even middle of winter, there's always a good reason to get outdoors.

JW: What are we looking for today, anything in particular?

ML: when I'm out walking this time of year, one thing I really like is the fact that the leaves are down. So I can see a lot of things that I would not see during the summer months. And you know, this helps me identify what's on this property both good and bad. So right now when I'm standing here, like I'm looking around, and I'm seeing all the invasive species that I don't want to see on the property. So we've come through here and we've done a bunch of clearing things like autumn olive, but as I'm looking, you know, I'm seeing autumn olive everywhere around us because a lot of these invasive trees and shrubs, they hold on to their leaves later than the native ones do. So I'm seeing all the stuff that I have to make plans for next year to come back and do some work. And I'm also seeing some stuff that is native that you wouldn't necessarily see earlier in the year. We're seeing some regeneration of pines, you know, this is a pine plantation. But we do have native white pines and stuff in here. And I'm seeing you know, young ones coming up. And I'm seeing a lot of the perennial plants that they just haven't grown up high yet. But now's a good time to come through and see a lot of those little seedlings, they sprouted maybe this year or last year and over the next couple of years, they're gonna get big enough, they will see them year round.

JW: I'm looking at a little white pine that's about six inches tall. And there are quite a few ferns still around too.

ML: Yeah, some of those ferns are gonna stay green pretty much year round. But yeah, it's, this is a good time to go out and take an inventory of what you have on your property. See what is there. There's a lot of stuff that you may not notice, you know, when everything is fully green and things are in bloom, but right now, you know, those things that are small, they might pop out. Walking through here, just looking at how bright green the moss is. And we probably wouldn't have even noticed this a month ago. Just because all the stuff up above it was shading it out. Same thing I'm looking through and just seeing you know, like you mentioned the ferns, there's lots of little low ground covers. You know, some of these are actually going to stay green all winter long. Which is pretty amazing though they'll continue to grow really slowly all throughout the year. And, you know, we just don't notice them. But this is actually a good time for them because they're getting that light that they wouldn't have gotten earlier in the year.

JW: Mike, we've been out for just a few minutes for “From the Ground Up!” and already, it's just feels so great to be out here-- and the sun is shining, and the air is crisp and clean. And thank you so much for having me here today and for all that you do to keep the 26th nature preserves, pristine and beautiful with the Chippewa Watershed Conservancy.

ML: Well, thank you, Judy, we appreciate you coming out today. And you know, we always want the public to come out on any of our nature preserves anytime.

JW: Thanks, Mike.


Judy Wagley is WCMU's midday host, and is the producer of <b><a href="">The Children's Bookshelf</a></b> and <b><a href="">From the Ground Up!</a></b> She guides listeners through their weekdays from 9am to 3pm.<br/>