Looking for the perfect destination to hike and explore whenever you so desire in the Grand Rapids area? Check out Blandford Nature Center. It’s only a quick ten minutes from downtown! With over 140 acres of land and chock full of wildlife, trails, and more, the Nature Center is definitely the place to be, outdoors. Whether taking a jaunt in the woods, soaking up some sun in the meadows, or learning and exploring through various events and programs, Blandford is an ideal spot to spend an afternoon or a full day.
Blandford Nature Center is an independent, charitable non-profit governed by a volunteer board. Their mission is to educate, engage, and empower the community to become stewards of the natural world that sustains us. Actively including the public in events such as planting in the community garden, the garlic mustard (an invasive plant species) pull, and annual festivals (such as the Field of Green Festival – with music, art, and green living in June), Blandford reigns king as the emerald of our city. There’s fun and opportunity for all.
Being so close to downtown Grand Rapids, the benefits are endless for Grand Rapidians and tourists. Up until a month ago, I had never been to Blandford and I was astounded with the peace and serenity of the area. Along with mature forests, meadows, wetlands, and creeks, it seemed as if I was “Up North,” back home in the Upper Peninsula. I’m sure we can all agree that being compared to the great “Up North” is a huge compliment! Viewing the incredible scenery and various fauna continually blooming over the seasons is incredible; hiking trips are definitely in order.
Love animals? Get your geek on! Blandford hosts many native critters, in the bird and animal observation area and an open-air turtle exhibit. They also perform as a wildlife rehabilitation center for reptiles and birds. They take in many injured wild animals with the intent to return them back to their natural environments. A few of the animals reside permanently at Blandford. A bobcat, two great-horned owls, and a red-tailed hawk, among others, help to educate the public on our wildlife friends. By learning their stories, we acquire the knowledge on how to ensure their safety and survival for the future.
Who do we have to thank for the Blandford Nature Center? Mary Jane Dockeray, a former nature lecturer at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. She convinced the land to be donated to the museum by the Blandford family. And in 1968, her dream became reality. Thank you Mary Jane Dockeray! You’ve delivered the most idyllic experience and resource for the community.
-Christina Larson, Feature Writer