Nature

THE FERNDALE RAT PATROL was formed late in the Summer of 2017 by Ferndale resident Laura Mikulski and associates after a City of Ferndale meeting about our rat problem. Citizens were left distraught over the City’s inability to deal with Ferndale’s growing rat problem. Due to legalities, costs, manpower, etc., the only option the Council could offer was to continue down their present path of action –hiring exterminators.

These concerned citizens met again shortly after, the City was not involved, and the Ferndale Rat Patrol was born. Their aim is simple: Rid our city of rats through the power of community.

The FRP differs vastly from conventional pest control services. The FRP does not use poison. Instead, there is a focus on community support, education and outreach involved: Neighbors talking to neighbors, and neighbors collaborating with each other.

The FRP is unique in that they are a community-based, volunteer organization. All members chose to be involved in the FRP, whether actively or passively. They share knowledge, ideas, methods and sometimes even equipment. The FRP’s operations affect the city of Ferndale in a variety of ways. Laura Mikulski chatted with Ferndale Friends about the Ferndale Rat Patrol.

FF: When and how did FRP come into existence?
Laura Mikulski: The FRP came into being after the Wilson Park Neighbor-hood Group, on the East side of Ferndale, approached the City looking for a rat control solution. The City set up a sort of townhall meeting, bringing in our code enforcement and a pest control company to explain how to control rats. Our code enforcement officer explained that proper rat control begins with keeping a clean yard and adhering to ordinance. Most in attendance already understood this, and personally kept their yards clean. Almost everyone knew someone in their neighborhood with a yard that contributed to the rat issue, but none were sure how to address it besides reporting to code enforcement-a sticky subject at best, since it can ruin relationships with neighbors if word gets out that you reported them.
The pest control company in attendance offered one solution: poison. This infuriated residents who had pets poisoned by dead rats, as well as those who had owl populations diminish due to poisoning. When it became clear that the city wouldn’t take an active hand in ridding the city of the rats currently in town, a group lingered behind to discuss solutions and community organization.

FF: What is the aim of the FRP? How does FRP differ from other pest control services?
The group is intended for those ready to take action to reduce the rat problem in the city, and to dispel the taboo of discussing the significant rat issues the city is facing. We intend to use methods that are not detrimental to the overall health of the environment (minimizing, if not eliminating the use of poisons). This group is intended for those that are ready to take action and learn, not to blame, complain and wait for others to do something. We are not a pest control service – we’re a grassroots organization of citizens and neighbors who perform outreach to educate on what drives the rat population, help eliminate rat habitat, and empower homeowners to remove rats effectively and manage their property to eliminate the rat population.

FF: What makes FRP unique? How does FRP affect the city of Ferndale?
The Ferndale Rat Patrol is unique in that it’s a collaborative effort to control the rat population in the city without relying on pest control companies or code enforcement. This is a citizen-empowering-citizen movement to depopulate and control rats, where we seek to help each other rather than place blame or look for others to fix the problem. It affects Ferndale in a huge way: Less poisons are being used, less rats are running rampant.

FF: What is the future of FRP? What are your goals?
Our goal is to safely reduce the rat population, always. Ideally, there would be none. They’re non-native, wildly destructive, and pathogenic. Additionally, conventional means of depopulating rats increase risk of secondary poisoning and death to pets and predators, something we’re staunchly against, and through education have reduced. It truly takes massive community involve-ment to make this happen on such a wide scale, and our group is growing daily. It’s become less and less taboo to discuss incidences of rat and meth-ods of extermination, which makes it easier to share knowledge and help without the embarrassment or stigma of having rats. People are waking up to the idea that this isn’t just a problem for a few people. It’s a city-wide issue that can only be resolved through coordinated effort.

Last year we did a “clean sweep” by performing outreach, and asking those who saw dead rats, evidence of rat, or killed rats personally to report in through a survey tool. In one month, September 2016, we tracked 437 rat kills, 257 which were snap traps that we recommended. We saw a major reduction in population that’s held strong through early 2017, and just rose again in September of this year. We’ve been tracking since about mid-month August, and have well over 200 rat kills accounted for through smart trapping through-out the city. We also created a flyer that we distribute when performing outreach so that neighbors can spread the word and we can reach those who might not be home with tips on how to eradicate rats in their neighborhood.

Laura Mikulski be presenting on rats, and rat prevention and elimination at the Ferndale Garden Club meeting on December 14. The FRP is also trying to organize a get-together fundraiser (since this is all funded personally). Anyone interested should tune into our Facebook group for details:
www.facebook.com/groups/968411293270256/ ( login required).

By: Ingrid Sjostrand

A 65-GALLON GREEN RECYCLING CART HAS SHOWN UP ON your curb and, well… every other curb in the neighborhood. Where did it come from? What can be recycled in it? Is there a cost?

While the debate over the benefits and negatives of these carts is growing hot, I went to the source for the basics. Colette Farris, organization development manager at SOCRRA
(Southeastern Oakland Resource Recovery Administration), gave me all the details you need to know about the cart program.

SOCRRA is a municipal corporation responsible for recycling, trash and yard waste in 12 member com-munities in metro Detroit. Founded in the 1950s, it covers the cities of Berkley, Beverly Hills, Birming-ham, Clawson, Ferndale, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods, Lathrup Village, Oak Park, Pleasant Ridge, Royal Oak and Troy.

The carts have been delivered to almost 100,000 single-family households in these cities and are meant for mixed recycling, which means there is no longer a need to sort your recyclables prior to pick up.
“SOCRRA is currently constructing a new Material Recovery Facility (MRF) to enable us to process mixed recycling, which is connected to the timing of distributing the carts. The new equipment has the technology to automate the sorting of materials instead of hand sorting.” Farris says. “This change means that neither the residents nor the drivers of the recycling trucks need to presort before delivering recyclables to our MRF.”

While the carts do allow for mixed recyclables, there are still some limits to what can be put curbside and what needs to be dropped off at SOCRRA’s recycling center.

“Two changes were made to what we collect curbside – batteries are no longer accepted curbside and the only metal that can go in the carts are cans and empty aerosol cans,” Farris says. “These, along with Styrofoam and plastic bags can be brought to the SOCRRA drop off center for recycling.”

All carts were delivered with informational paperwork breaking down the details, but paper, cartons, cans, glass and plastic jugs, bottles and containers are all acceptable materials. Cardboard can be recycled in carts too, it just has to be broken down into three-foot by three-foot pieces. (Some bins were distributed with incorrect instructions which humorously stated three inches instead of three feet).

Distribution of carts started in July, and was completed on September 8th at no cost to residents. Prompt-ed by an initiative by Gov. Snyder to double recycling within the next two years, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality was able to purchase the arts through grant funding from nonprofit The Recycling Partnership.

“The goal is to increase recycling rates in our communities and we didn’t want the cost of the cart to be an obstacle in achieving this goal,” Farris says.

So far, the carts seem to be making a difference. In August, 2,017 tons of recyclables were collected compared to 1,733 tons in August 2016 – a 16 per cent increase. Farris only expects this number to increase now that all carts have been delivered.

SOCRRA encourages everyone to try the carts for two or three months but for those that decide not to keep theirs, they will take them back. The old bins being replaced by carts are for residents to keep, but can be returned to the recycling center also.

Most feedback SOCRRA has received has been positive but Farris encourages residents to reach out with any comments or questions. Contact SOCRRA at socrra@socrra.org, check out their web site, www.socrra.org, or call the administrative office (248) 288-5150 if you have specific questions about recycling.

Story by: Sara E. Teller

FERNDALE RESIDENTS AND THOSE IN SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES may be noticing public awareness signs that feature mosquitos popping up in their neighborhoods. What’s this all about, and is there cause for concern?

The signs are meant to announce the potential for mosquitos to carry the West Nile Virus (WNV). WNV is most often spread to humans after they are bit by an infected insect. The infected mosquito carries the virus after biting a bird with WNV.

While most who are infected with WNV will experience little to no symptoms, the virus can cause illness and even death. Approximately one in 150 people infected will develop severe illness. Symptoms of the severe version can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis.

Up to 20 per cent of people who become infected with WNV will display some symptoms within three to 14 days, including fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back.

Unfortunately, there is no vaccine or treatment for WNV. Illness may last weeks to months, even in healthy persons. Those who are symptomatic may require intravenous fluids, help with breathing and nursing care. Severe cases require hospitalization. Pregnant women are encouraged to seek immediate medical attention if they develop symptoms that could be linked to the virus.

The Oakland County Health Division (OCHD) leads the county’s proactive response against the risks posed by WNV and other mosquito-borne diseases, such as the Zika virus. “We have had a WNV prevention plan since 2003,” said Johanna Cassise of the OCHD. There were recently three confirmed cases of WNV in Michigan, including those in Montcalm County, as well as Oakland and Macomb Counties.

“Whenever mosquitoes are active, there is a risk of getting WNV. The risk is highest from late July through September,” Johanna explained. “Currently, one confirmed case of WNV in Oakland County this year.”

The Oakland County Health Division administers funding allocated by County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and the Oakland County Board of Commissioners to employ preventative efforts in conjunction with the county’s 62 cities, villages, and townships (CVTS). “These funds are allocated to participating CVTs and support OCHD’s WNV prevention plan aimed at public education about personal protection and reduction of mosquito breeding habitats,” said Johanna.

This year, 45 CVTs have joined the Health Division in implementing protective measures designed to educate residents on the potential harm of WNV. Almost $200 thousand dollars, the amount that is allocated annually for prevention activities, will be distributed among those participating. The funds will pay for:

● Larviciding municipal catch basins to eliminate mosquito larvae and halt reproduction.
● Distributing personal-use mosquito repellent at outdoor community events.
● Implementing public-awareness campaigns about protecting against WNV and controlling mosquitos. Funding through Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) enhanced educational messaging throughout the county.

Part of the current public awareness campaign includes signs featuring Know the Buzz. “Signs were distributed to interested CVTs participating in the reimbursement program and the Oakland County Senior Advisory Council,” Johanna said. “City of Ferndale is one of the municipalities displaying the signs.”

THE OCHD RECOMMENDS SEVERAL WAYS TO PREVENT WNV. “The best way to prevent WNV infection is to prevent mosquito bites,” according to Johanna.

To best protect against bites, residents should use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellant. All EPA-registered insect repellants are evaluated for safety and effectiveness, and will contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or paramenthanediol as the active ingredient. Repellents containing a higher percentage of the active ingredient typically provide longer-lasting protection.

It is also important to get rid of breeding sites. To do so, homeowners should remove any standing water. Some tips include turning over any type of container that can collect fluid. Once a week, empty out items that hold water such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, pet bowls, flowerpots, and trash containers. Clean clogged roof gutters, particularly if leaves tend to plug up the drains. Treat standing water that cannot be eliminated, such as retention ponds or drainage ditches, with a mosquito larvicide. Mosquito larvicide is easy to use and can be purchased at most home improvement stores.

Individuals should also wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and pants, especially while outdoors, and limit outdoor activities when-ever mosquitoes are most active, typically late afternoon, dusk to dawn, and in the early morning. Avoid areas where mosquitoes may be present and maintain window and door screens to keep mosquitoes out of homes and buildings. Never prop open doors, allowing for easy entry into the home.

For more information residents can follow @publichealthOC on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. The Health Division encourages everyone to share its prevention messages. Additional information can also be found at the Mosquito-Borne Disease Information Page at:
www.oakgov.com/health/information/Pages/Mosquito-Borne-Diseases.aspx

Story by Sara E. Teller
Photos by Bernie LaFramboise

If you’ve ever had fresh eggs for breakfast,” Holly Belian says, “you’ll understand the first reason we wanted to raise hens.” Holly and her wife Julia have lived in Ferndale since the summer of 2009, and have been raising hens for the past four years.

Chickens in Ferndale? You bet.
Ferndale is one of several cities in Michigan that allow hens to be raised on your property. The list includes Berkley, Hazel Park and Royal Oak, among others. Ferndale has about two dozen personal chicken coops within the city. Holly and Julia both raised hens before, and when the opportunity became available to raise hens in Ferndale they wanted to give it a shot. They had both raised them in rural settings, in Southern Illinois and Texas, and trying it in an urban setting was intriguing.

The Details
City Ordinance No 1118 Sec 5-8 allows for residents in single-family homes to keep up to three hens in the backyard. Rental properties must supply the city with a letter of approval from the landlord. You need to submit a dimensioned site plan and pay a $35 permit fee at the time you submit your paperwork. The dimensioned site plan must include property lines, structures, set-backs, driveway and elevation of coop with materials. Plans must be to scale. Slaughtering of any chickens at the property is prohibited.

Benefits Of An Urban Farm
Besides delicious eggs, they’re part of Holly and Julia’s retirement plan.“We bought our house primarily for the extra deep backyard, and put in a big vegetable garden,” Holly said. “We also planted lots of fruit trees and bushes. Add in fresh eggs from the chickens, and we can almost become independent from store-bought foods.”

“The city presents a unique set of challenges and benefits to a homeowner,” said Laura Mikulski, who runs the web site, FerndaleChickens.com. “We have hawks and raccoons in Ferndale, which are chicken killers and strong steps have to be taken to prevent them from killing your birds. They add a layer of improvement to our sandy soil in Ferndale by way of their manure, which helps urban gardeners like myself.”
Ferndale resident Jill Marentette said hens fertilize gardens very well, and some residents might move their coops and the garden to get the maximum benefit.

Secret Garden
On a visit to Holly and Julia’s backyard, one finds more than just hens. Packed deep behind a lush growth of blackberries, peach trees and tomato plants is the coop. There, we meet Dottie (a speckled Sussex), Figaro (Austrolorp) and Lacey (double-laced Barnevelder). Their hens survive just fine in the winter, although they don’t like stepping on the snow. They also have a tiny house for shelter, warmth and, of course, laying eggs. Hens typically lay an egg about once every 25 hours. So, on a given day, Holly and Julia get anywhere from zero to three eggs. While the $35 yearly permit fee may not make eating your own eggs much more feasible than buying them at a store, nothing beats homemade. “Their eggs are amazing,” Holly said. “Truly delicious, and we know exactly what goes into them.” Even the good, organic eggs you pick up at the farmer’s market can’t stand up to getting them from your own backyard.

Pesky Or Bothersome? Hardly.
These hens don’t mind strangers, although Dottie did give me a couple pecks on the leg when I entered her turf. But who wouldn’t be protective when a strange man comes into your coop? The hens made barely a peep.Laura even touted how great it can be to get to know a hen’s personality. “They can be kind to each other, or cruel, just like people,” she said. “They have a depth to their personality that I never expected. All of this has made me even more conscious of my purchasing habits, as the environment of factory farming seems more and more impossibly cruel after you see how much joy the birds take in living and being able to do chickeny things.”

Easy Upkeep
“There is almost no maintenance,” Holly said. “Feed has to be bought, but three hens don’t eat much. And instead of scraps going into the compost heap, we give them to the chickens to supplement. Fresh water every few days in their thermos. We also provide some grit to help them process the eggs, and diatomaceous earth to roll in during the summer to keep them bug free.” Holly and Julia clean or resurface their yard two times a year, and regularly check the yard to make sure it’s secure from critters. Julia said they do see some digging from time to time, but their hens have never been in danger.

Learn More
Do you know anybody who raises hens? Interested in pursuing it yourself? Check out ferndalechickens.com for easy-to-find and easy-to-read information on what Ferndale residents needs to know. You’ll also find help tips and education blog posts. “We support each other and communicate in times of need,” Laura said. “This is true of Ferndale and beyond. Neighboring cities use Facebook and social media to reach out to fellow chicken keepers for advice and help when medical needs arise.”

Story By: Ingrid Sjostrand
Photo By: Bernie LAFramboise

WHILE IT MAY HAVE STARTED 13 YEARS AGO AS AN EFFORT to denounce the Woodward Dream Cruise and call out the environmental impact caused by the famous auto affair, the Green Cruise has transformed into so much more, and boasted over 250 participants in 2016.

Organized by the Sierra Club’s Southeast Michigan group, the annual bike ride offers an alternative look at transportation in the automotive capital of the world. Scheduled for September 9th, participants can choose to bike a 42-mile loop to Belle Isle or a less intensive 22-mile ride to Birmingham.

“Some have called it the anti-Dream Cruise but it’s really about awareness,” Jerry Hasspacher, event chair for the Green Cruise, says. “It’s an all-around environmental event, and it’s going to benefit more than just one charity and one idea; we’ll support a whole gamut of things such as energy conservation, using less fossil fuels, getting bad chemicals out of the air and native landscaping.”

The event starts and ends in Ferndale, partly because of its location in Metro Detroit, but also due to the city’s environmental efforts. From the recently upgraded bike lanes and greenery sprouting on the roofs of the library and bus stops to bike repair stations throughout the city, it’s undeniable that Ferndale is working toward building a sustainable city.

“Ferndale is very centrally-located and it’s a very environmental city, so we get a lot of cooperation,” Hasspacher says. “It’s nice to have that support from a green city, plus there are a lot of bike lanes in Ferndale so it’s easy to not only get around in the city but to get to other bike lanes outside the city.”

The Green Cruise will start at Ferndale City Hall, located at 300 E 9 Mile Rd, where bikers can gather under the overhang and restrooms will be available before and after the ride. In previous years the event began at the Ferndale Public Library.

Aside from the new location, riders should note that the date has been moved from August to September 9th in hopes of cooler weather and to kick off National Drive Electric Week.

“The National Drive Electric Association has a web site and invites people who have electric and hybrid cars to show up to their events, and then they explain how these vehicles work,” Hasspacher says. “It’s something a lot of people don’t understand, so the more education we can provide the better.”

The 2017 Green Cruise is sponsored by 25 companies including Ferndale businesses Greenspace Cafe, Modern Natural Baby and Western Market. The 42-mile ride will include three official stops and the 22-mile ride one official stop, both with snacks available. Ride leaders from local organizations will be available to help with any issues like flat tires or weather-related concerns.

“We also have great leadership on the ride, we have Metro Detroit Cycling Club again this year and Beat the Train who are all going to help us keep track of everyone on the 42-mile ride,” Hasspacher says. The cost to participate in the ride is a modest $10.

“The Green Cruise is a green way of non-fossil fuel transportation. When you’re riding your bike you’re not using fossil fuel and personally, I hope that all the bicyclists spend the rest of their time being environmental,” Hasspacher says.

“Hopefully we can get more people involved in environmental groups, this work is all grassroots now and effective change comes from the bottom, not the top.”

 

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By Mary Meldrum

As more and more of our rural areas are developed, certain wild animals have learned to adapt and have reclaimed some space within our urban areas. The opossum is one of these animals. As their natural habitat in the Detroit area and outlying cities like Ferndale disappeared over time, like many other animals, opossums were forced into closer proximity to humans.

While they may resemble rats in some ways, opossums are not really related to rats at all. Opossums are North America’s only marsupial. Marsupials are archetypal mammals that cannot produce a placenta, and instead sport a pouch in which they carry and suckle their young. Do not let their slow movements fool you. With their opposable ‘thumb’ toes and their prehensile tails, they are great climbers. You may have seen one hanging upside down by their tail in a tree. They are also rather smart and have fantastic memories.

Opossums are interesting animals. Male opossums are called jacks, females are called jills, and the young are referred to as joeys, just like kangaroos. Opossums have an impressive 50 teeth and are the quintessential omnivore. They eliminate rodents, snakes and insects and are the urban
“groundskeepers” in most cities. They eat over-ripe fruit, grass, leaves, frogs, birds, fish, eggs, snails, slugs, moles and garbage. The insects that they eat include cockroaches, crickets, beetles, etc., and they also catch and eat mice and rats. They are scavengers as well, and consume carrion, cleaning up dead animals of all types.

They are generally docile and non-aggressive, and will not attack your pets. They prefer to avoid any confrontations and do not like to be cornered. When challenged and they cannot escape, they might hiss, growl, belch, urinate, defecate, and if all else fails, play dead. They will show their teeth or bite in self-defense as most wild animals do.

A zoonotic disease is a disease passed between animals and humans. People can contract diseases from any animal, including their pets. While opossums are known to carry a variety of diseases, not all opossums are infected with disease and they do not carry rabies. Since marsupials are a rather ancient form of mammal, their body temperatures are too low to harbor rabies. The low body temperature is also why they move so slowly. When in close proximity to any wild animal, keep your distance and use common sense, but the chance of catching any disease is slim.

Because opossums do not hibernate in the cold months of winter, surviving during this time is especially difficult for them. They frequently change their nocturnal foraging and hunting habits in order to be out in the warmer temperatures during the day.

Opossums are nocturnal animals, usually hunting at night. They have poor eyesight, but rely on their excellent sense of smell to find and hunt food.

If you have been having regular visits from a local opossum, there is likely a food source that they return to regularly. In order to get rid of opossums, you have to remove the source of their food. Do not put out seed for the birds and squirrels. Clean your barbeque grill and the grease traps. Feed your pets indoors. Secure your trash with tight lids, and pick up any fallen fruit from nearby fruit trees.

When Ferndale residents experience an opossum as a nuisance, they typically call the police or the Oakland County Animal Control division. These organizations do not handle wildlife nuisance cases, and will direct the caller to the Michigan DNR office. The DNR also does not handle wildlife nuisance or removal in residential areas. However, the DNR keeps a robust list of state permitted Wildlife Damage and Nuisance Control organizations that a resident can contact to have the opossum removed.

It may come as a surprise to some people that opossum is a game animal and may be taken year-round with a valid Michigan hunting license in safe, designated hunting areas. It should be noted, however, that no one is allowed to hunt anything in Ferndale! Opossum hunting is done for fur harvesting by some, and it is usually done at night with the use of artificial lights and dogs. More specific information regarding regulations on opossum hunting and trapping can be found on the DNR website.

It is important to remember that the opossums that reside alongside us in Ferndale are our gentle wild neighbors who are just trying to make a living like all of us. They often get a bum rap as a pest, but are really pretty non-intrusive helpful critters.

If you are a fan of the opossum, there are others like you. The Opossum Society of the United States is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization involved in wildlife rehabilitation and education. Contact them with any questions, information or enthusiasm about all things opossum!

Story by Malissa Martin
Photos by Bernie Laframboise

THERE ARE SOME CHANGES BEING MADE AT THE CITY OF FERNDALE’S PARKS AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT. One of the most recent is the installment of new Director Lareina Wheeler, who replaced Jillian Manchik on March 13, 2017. Wheeler previously worked for the City of Detroit for 15 years as an environmental specialist, where she worked on big projects such as the Link Detroit Greenway/Dequindre cut extension, Detroit Riverfront redevelopment and Inner Circle Greenway project. She’s also owned One Life Fitness for over 12 years.

The next changes coming are upgrades to the parks, while they get ready for summer activities. Wheeler said their Master Plan was recently approved, and upgrades should happen throughout the next two years. “There are a lot of wish-list items we are definitely going to try to tackle and make happen. For this year, we’re starting with Martin Road Park, some improvements in that park.” The list includes: walking pads, splash pads, adult exercising equipment, sitting gardens, new play equipment, pavilion upgrades, ball field upgrades, and more. “The main things would be the splash pad, city garden, walking path, and adult exercise equipment.”

Creating opportunities for family and friends to spend time together at one of the 14 community parks in Ferndale is the goal of the Department. Wheeler said the department is open to suggestions from the public on their vision. “They can definitely be included in the planning process because we’re focusing on forward-thinking. We want our parks to be modern, we want them to be innovated, and we want them to meet the needs of the community.”

Ferndale’s parks provide a unique outdoor space for residents and visitors to enjoy. Summer youth programs and adult leagues are now taking registrations. Many summer events will take place at the park. The parks are maintained by the City’s Department of Public Works. Programs and rentals are managed by the Recreation Department.

MARTIN ROAD PARK
Located at 1615 E. Lewiston Avenue, Martin Road Park is classified as a community park and is the largest park in the city with almost 32 acres to enjoy. A few of the park’s amenities are shared with Webb Elementary School. Martin Road Park amenities include basketball hoops, concession stands, grills, picnic tables, in-line skating rink, park benches, pavilions and pavilion tables, play structures, sledding path, football field (on school property), full soccer field (Dream Field), two small soccer fields, two softball fields (on school property), walking trails, restrooms, drinking fountains, large open space area, and off-street parking lots.

DETROIT CURLING CLUB/ FERNDALE ACTIVITY CENTER
The Detroit Curling Club, founded in 1885, partnered with The City of Ferndale in the early 2000s to share the club’s building at Martin Road Park. The agreement allows each party use of the building for six months per year. The amenities for the Detroit Curling Club/ Ferndale Activity Center include four sheets of curling ice (winter months), a large open indoor area (summer months), meeting room, office, kitchen, and bathrooms.

HARDING PAR
Harding Park is classified as a community park, located at the corner of Mapledale St. and Paxton St. The large, 17 acres wooded park includes two basketball courts, in-line skating rink (lighted), softball field, full soccer field, two small soccer fields, baseball field, play structure, picnic tables, park benches, restrooms, drinking fountains, storage building, and an off-street parking lot.

GEARY PARK
This neighborhood park is the third largest in the city, with over nine acres and is located at 1198 Earl Boulevard. Amenities for Geary Park include in-line skating rink (lighted), baseball field, softball field, play structures, picnic tables, grills, pavilion, restrooms, benches, drinking fountain, storage building, and an off-street parking lot.

WILSON PARK
Set next to University High School, Wilson Park is the only dog park in the city. It’s located on University St. and Hilton Road, and has an acreage of 7.34. Amenities for Wilson Park include in-line skating rink (lighted), small softball field (on school property), basketball court, play structure, picnic tables, grills, picnic benches, dog park, restrooms, drinking fountains, and an off-street parking lot.

GARBUTT PARK
Garbutt Park, with almost seven acres, is located at 200 Gardendale Street. The park received its latest update in 2015 when it upgraded the playground area. It’s the only Ferndale park to have earth play mounds; earthen formations such as hills to divide areas naturally. Amenities for Garbutt Park includes softball field, soccer field, play structures, walking trail, earth play mounds, picnic tables, grills, park benches, drinking fountain, and restrooms.

LENNON MEMORIAL PARK (MAPLEDALE PARK)
Named after Ferndale’s former mayor, Bernie Lennon, Lennon Memorial Park is also known as Mapledale Park because of its location on the said street’s name. The park has more than four acres, and is located on Garfield St. and Chester St. Amenities for the park include two small soccer fields, basketball court, play structures, picnic tables, grills, open space areas, park benches, and drinking fountains.

WANDA PARK
Wanda Park is located at 998 Wanda Street, with three acres. The park’s amenities include basketball hoops, softball field, play structure, picnic tables, grills, park benches, and a drinking fountain.

KULICK COMMUNITY CENTER
The Kulick Community Center is the city’s primary recreational indoor and outdoor facility. It’s also home to the offices of the Department of Recreation and Senior Services. Amenities for the Kulick Community Center include meeting rooms, various activity rooms, gymnasium, fitness studio, dance studio, kitchen, dining room, restrooms, play structures, basketball hoop, picnic tables, park benches, off-street parking, and site of a Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) public transportation hub.

OPPENHEIM PARK
Surrounded by a beautiful wooded area, Oppenheim Park is located at 650 St. Louis St. and has 2.35 acres. The neighborhood park has the following amenities: Open space areas, play structure, drinking fountain, picnic tables, grills, and park benches.

FAIR PARK
Fair Park is located at the corner of Fair St. and Jewell St., and is considered one of five mini parks with 1.27 acres. Amenities for Fair Park include park benches, paved walking trail, and a play structure.

VESTER PARK
The second mini park, with just less than one acre, is Vester Park, which
is located at the corner of Vester and Farrow St. Vester Park amenities includes a play structure, picnic tables, grill, park bench, and a
drinking fountain.

OAKRIDGE PARK
Oakridge Park is located on Oakridge Street (near Woodward Ave.) and is about a half-acre in size. The mini-park is a completely open space with no additional amenities.

MARIE PARK
Marie Park is another mini park, located at 1300 Marie St. Amenities include play structures, park benches, soccer field, and a drinking fountain.

SCHIFFER PARK
The final mini park, and smallest of the city’s parks is Schiffer Park with about a tenth of an acre. The park is located at W. 9 Mile Rd. and Planavon St. and is an urban plaza with tables, benches, and a drinking fountain. Schiffer Park was dedicated in honor of former Mayor Henry Schiffer in 1982.

Sources:
Ferndale Historical Society
http://www.ferndalehistoricalsociety.org/history_chronology.html
Draft of the Ferndale Parks & Recreation Plan 2016


By Rebecca Hammond

BACKYARD HABITAT NEWS: There’s a robin population explosion this year. In our neighborhood, we’re noticing something: possibly because of greater numbers and more competition for food, they’ve slightly domesticated themselves, following various neighbors around as we garden. They wait for us to move from a spot we just dug, then rifling that spot for worms. It’s happened so often, and they stay so close to us, there’s no doubt of what they’re doing.

A few days before Mother’s Day, we performed duckling rescue, having spotted a mama mallard crossing Oakridge with her brood. Unfortunately, she picked a spot with a storm grate, and three of the maybe 12 ducklings fell through. Phil and a young man who’d stopped removed the grate and found that while ducklings don’t like falling down storm sewers, they also don’t like being rescued. And they really don’t like being carried across a front lawn to bushes where Mom and siblings had hidden. They’re like chasing pinballs. Mama duck charged us aggressively, then faked some wing injuries, maybe just to show off. Neighbors Tina and Dick happened to wander by and, since no one was home nearby, went to get a piece of plywood to temporarily cover the drain. Maybe Ferndale needs an Adopt-a-Drain program, for the brief period when mallards nest.

During my nightly sky gazing I see, just before full dark, large birds fly over as if shadowing Woodward to its west. Shaped like chunky gulls and with silent wingflaps but harsh croaks, these have been a nightly mystery. Again, I turned to Duluth ornithologist Laura Erickson, whose best guess is black crowned night herons. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology states that these are the world’s most common herons, and that “They’re most active at night or at dusk, when you may see their ghostly forms flapping out from daytime roosts to forage in wetlands.” My own guess is that they leave the zoo for places in Detroit, and that if I were watching just before dawn I’d see them return.

FERNDALE MONARCH PROJECT: I saw my first monarch out front on May 16, two weeks earlier than last year. People on our Facebook page report-ed seeing them around the same time, even one in Telly’s Greenhouse. We gave away ten more common milkweeds at the perennial exchange at Blumz, making the project’s total 468, and we weren’t the only ones who brought milkweed to share this year. Someone also brought three pots of goldenrod, maybe the second-most important plant for monarchs, it being a late bloomer that gets Generation Four back to Mexico. If you thought that goldenrod caused allergies, join the club. Ragweed is the real culprit, but goldenrod’s showiness gets it all the blame. State Representative Robert Wittenberg and his legislative director Barbara Winter have taken an interest in Michigan following Ohio’s and Illinois’ lead, both states having initiated programs to plant milkweed along highways.

Perennial exchanges, like the recent one by the Ferndale Beautification Commission, are good places to gather plants, and maybe get rid of more grass. Most of the plants are hardier than grass, and more far ornamental. You don’t have to water daylilies or milkweed or coneflower much, and they don’t need a toxic bath to look beautiful, either. Do you need help starting an organic, native garden? Former Ferndale resident Danielle Etienne is starting Wild Bergamot Gardening for homes and businesses. wildbergamotgarden@gmail.com, 248-299-9295.

ALL HANDS ON DECK EVENTS: Are you a Great Lakes advocate, enthusiast, or activist? Do the Lakes soothe and renew you? Current multiple threats can make you seethe. Check out events on the morning of July 3 region-wide.

Organizer and Charlevoix resident Kimberly Simon told me this: “The overall idea for ALL HANDS ON DECK is to unite all water efforts throughout the Great Lakes Region whether that be organizations, Tribal water walkers, petition creators, protestors on various issues, scientists working on solving water issues for one hour on one day all together as a visual demonstration of how large and diverse the water protectors efforts are in the region. We hope to grow more every year since this issue is not going away, it is only on the horizon as the most difficult issue we will face in this country and as a planet – clean, affordable, accessible fresh water. We must get people talking about water, get them to the water to connect with it, educate them and inspire them about it, and introduce them to the many ways they may get involved with the cause.”

The project has grown since FF’s last issue. In two-and-a-half months, events have been planned in five states and Ontario, in over 50 communities. “In the UP, there will be sacred drumming and water blessings. In Detroit and Petoskey a speaker, some [events] will also have a clean up – it is one hour to come together about water in the way that will best educate your community . . . and keep them involved for another year. An advocacy petition will be at the event to sign in support of water policy creation based on unbiased science. Members of congress . . . are being asked to sign a pledge to create water policy using unbiased science.”

The website is allhandsondeckgreatlakes.org. There you can find the list of participating communities with links to specific events, which are all at 10 am on July 3rd. You can also buy shirts and flags. Got a blue marble? Bring it to share, along with a water story. Kimberly Simon:   “This isn’t an environmentalist issue, this is everyone’s issue . . . water is life.”

Becky Hammond is a former Green Cruiser of the Year, and the Michigan Sierra Club’s 2012 Alex Sagedy Cyber Punk Award winner. Anyone knowing her is surprised at the cyber-punk part.

Story by Andrea Grimaldi
Photos by Bernie LaFramboise

We are open to the public. We invite anyone to visit and walk around, walk their dogs,” Machpelah groundskeeper Paul Saville explained, looking around the park in his backyard. On this quiet fall day, the grounds crew worked on blowing away leaves and tending to the flowerbeds, as the sun came through the branches of the countless trees. And, had we been anywhere besides one of the oldest cemeteries in Metro Detroit, I would have wondered how no one took him up on his offer.

To Paul, a calming walk around the cemetery is nothing new. He has worked maintaining the cemetery since 1978 in what started as a summer job. By the mid-‘80s, he had worked his way to head groundskeeper and moved into the house on the property, hidden behind a garage of maintenance machines. Machpelah is one of the last cemeteries in America that has a groundskeeper living on the property, and the Saville family treats it with the care and pride of home.

Machpelah Cemetery is a gorgeous park, regardless if tombstones scare you or not. The history and depth in Machpelah Cemetery is worth a long, winding walk. The Jewish cemetery is located on Woodward, just south of Marshall road, across from a car dealership and surrounded by businesses. Despite the busy area, the cemetery is a very peaceful place, 24 acres of immaculate landscaping backed by the David Oppenheim Memorial park. The cemetery has 9000 garden beds and circling walking trails. Machpelah has won an America in Bloom award, as well as a Ferndale Beautification award, with good reason. There is a year-round crew that keeps Machpelah beautiful. Weeding and garden maintenance is a nonstop task, starting at one end of the park and restarting as soon as they reach the other. The crew also must level out between 300 and 500 graves and tombstones a year. Along with the tradition of having a groundskeeper on the property, Machpelah is also one of few cemeteries that hand digs each grave.

The Machpelah cemetery is integral to Detroit history. The first house on Woodward Avenue stood where the cemetery is now, when Woodward was a dirt trail. The two-bedroom house was on the Granger farm property, and the occupants paid $7 dollars per month for rent.

Machpelah has a very large veterans section. Alfred Levitt, a member of the Flying Tigers in World War II, is in internment here. A Congressional Medal of Honor awardee is also buried here. Members of the Purple Gang, Detroit’s Jewish mafia and Al Capone’s liquor supplier during the prohibition, rest here as well. According to rumors, one of Al Capone’s girlfriends is here, as well as a previous mayor of Las Vegas. Gilda Radner’s parents are here in a family plot. “Babeland” – a section of early 1900’s children – is the eeriest of them all.

While all internment records are available on the Machpelah website, the staff is also available to help with genealogy questions. The employees of the cemetery are very well-educated on the history of the cemetery and are happy to show guests around the graves. The main administration building has a chapel and a family room for guests. The guest gathering room has shelves of the interesting things found while digging; old medicine bottles, beer and soda bottles, broken glasses, rusted out horse shoes. A Congressional Medal of Honor from the Civil War was also found on the grounds.

The staff is accommodating to guests of Machpelah there out of both necessity and curiosity. Walk a mile somewhere you never thought you would, and walk away more intrigued because of it.

By Rebecca Hammond

SIGH: Michigan has been discovered, alas. While I’m continually amazed that I can keep finding new and enjoyable trails, towns, rivers in Michigan, I’m not happy that we keep making this-or-that list of national wonderfulness. The latest? Nikon has ranked Michigan the number-one spot in America for fall photography. (What took them so long?) Years ago I was driving to Ohio and was pleased to hear that NPR was doing an entire hour on Marquette, which was continually winning a spot on “Ten Best Places . . .” lists. At the end was an interview with the owner of a downtown business, who was maybe the grandson of its founder. His last words? “Don’t move here.” I now understand. A friend who lives in Marquette said that the last two summers were off-the-charts busy with tourists, and that even Munising had times with not enough hotel rooms or restaurants. Perhaps Musising will be to Marquette what Ferndale once was to Royal Oak.

RETRO FESTIVE: Darwin’s Home Evolution on the west side of Woodward north of Nine Mile has windows so
full of retro holiday wares, I defy you to take a look and not feel nostalgic. They sell housewares, furniture, jewelry, books, and games. Darwin’s will have a Christmas Party, date not yet selected, but check their Facebook page or website. They have treats at all times, a free drawing every week, and since items are only in the store for three months, there’s something new constantly. Check out their after-Christmas sale. Used gifts are green gifts. Regift and degift.

NATURE, A LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP: A praying mantis set up housekeeping on our porch for about two weeks this summer. The Number One sign you might be a nature lover: finding yourself with tweezers, picking spider webs off the back of a mantis. We humans seem to think wild things want the relationship with us that we desire with them. Just as I can wishfully-think that wild creatures enjoy relating to me, I can also think that they get into spider webs accidentally, instead of en-joying a free source of food they didn’t have to bother catching.
When you see the rather putrid fungi that pops up all over Ferndale in late summer, the red stems with slimy brown tops that are often crawling with flies, do you also wonder why you’re a nature lover to begin with? Nature can be disgusting. On the other hand, this was a marvelous year for fungi in the woods. When you see groups of spherical inch-wide brown fungi, each with a small hole on top, give one a press. A cloud of fine spores will puff out of that little hole.

PIPELINES: The Dakota Access Pipeline remains in the news and remains a concern for members of our community. NPR reported yesterday that in below freezing temperatures, police sprayed protesters with water cannons. And police complained that they had been hit with rocks and wood. President Obama may be considering rerouting this pipeline. While this would make most of us happy for the Standing Rock Sioux, the pipeline, which is heading for Illinois and consumers, will then become someone else’s battle. As of yet, no environmental groups that oppose the pipeline mention our demand for oil.

RANDOM GREEN THOUGHTS: I notice that any life activity becomes a learning experience if continued long enough. Hiking might be my favorite activity. Michigan is a hiker’s dream. We recently hiked the Highbanks Trail along the Au Sable Valley east of Os-coda, happy that we waited till mid-October. All memories of this day are glowingly positive, although many moments of the hike were not. Traffic was heavy along nearby River Road, parts of the seven-mile trail were “crowded” with hikers, and as always, my feet hurt. Some of this hike is along power-line rights-of-way. Gorgeous valley views are interspersed with dull second-growth woods. When you commit to a certain activity as way of life,moments of like and dislike do not end up mattering. When they seem to (my feet can really hurt!And there are bugs, sweat, cold), a mental reminder that even badly sore feet can’t wreck a hike overall is warranted. This is freedom, something to be nurtured and valued.

I read once that Grand Canyon river guides have a high rate of off-season depression, nothing else life offers being as exciting and absorbing as running rapids. Coming and going from the natural world can end up more complicated than reason would have it. Transitions even to a beloved place or state of being can seem like jarring oneself out of a rut that is simply comfortable. It’s easier to keep doing anything than it is to stop and start it. A hiker in motion tends to stay in motion.

Maybe all discipline is the realization that deciding a course of action ahead of time and sticking to it is better and easier than going with the whims and moods of particular moments. I’ve known musicians to keep going through all the “-itises”: bursitis, arthritis, tendonitis; I myself once pulled the top off a music stand and right into my upper lip, sending me from a rehearsal straight to the ER, and still played an oboe concerto two days later. Most things are doable if you made up your mind ahead of time they’re worthwhile.

Conversely, things that are worthwhile will end up avoided if each mood is weighed for validity. If the forest calls you, go. If that particular experience isn’t wonderful, you went anyway. You smelled the forest and the water and heard the wind (and maybe pressed a fungi).

Sooner or later you accumulate enough wonderful excursions that the occasional mediocre or even lousy one can be laughed off. You’ll have faith that good times are plentiful enough to count on.

Rebecca Hammond lives in Ferndale where she continues to struggle with putting her things away when done with them. Life is a journey.