Parks Foundation - April Showers...

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bear cam

Are you feeling a little like a bear waking up from hibernation this spring? 

A lot of us love to play in the snow, but it can be hard to get outside during these cold, winter-like weeks of spring. 

While it's not always easy to motivate ourselves to bundle up and go outside, more and more research is piling up indicating that outdoor activity is crucial to our health and well-being.

Your continued support helps us provide more green space and recreational opportunities in Ottawa County, keeping our community healthy & happy!


Numerous studies demonstrate the health benefits of green spaces.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls parks and trails “an important part of a community.”

“Having access to places for physical activity, such as parks and trails, encouraged community residents to participate in physical activity and do so more often,” the CDC notes. “The closer you live to a park, the more likely you are to walk or bike to those places, and use the park for exercise.”

Research has shown benefits of spending time in green spaces that include improved mood and attitude, stress reduction, better mental health, and more mindfulness and creativity. “We now know that nearby nature … directly contributes to quality human habitat and is profoundly important for the health of mind and body,” writes Kathleen Wolf, a research social scientist at the University of Washington who also works with the U.S. Forest Service.


“The opportunities are there,” said Jen Bradshaw. 

“There’s always a park close by you, so it lessens the opportunity for excuses to not get out and exercise.”

Learn more about Jen & Beth's year-long odyssey to visit all 38 parks & open spaces in our  first Green Investmest story, A Healthy Appeal  >> 

Green Investment is an occasional series about the positive impact of Ottawa County parks on the quality of life in West Michigan, presented by the Ottawa County Parks Foundation.

Feeling anxious, stressed, grumpy?

Try shinrin-yoku, Japanese for forest bathing. Now, before you strip your clothes off, forest bathing is as simple as a walk in the woods.


People flock to cities for obvious reasons, all very understandable: more job opportunities; more choices; more culture and cultural diversity; larger communities. Yet, and this is the paradox, living in a crowded, concrete-walled, green-poor, urban environment takes something away from our very essence, our primal need to be close to nature.

An EPA study found that Americans spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, where the concentrations of some air pollutants can be 2 times to 5 times higher than outdoors. Essentially, we spend our lives in cages breathing bad air. Too much grey, black, and white — and not enough immersion in greens and blues.

It is no wonder that many large cities take landscaping seriously, adding parks and green areas wherever possible. We can't quite sever the link with our evolutionary past and part ways with our origins. We are, after all, animals, and it's hard to forget that, even if some try real hard, surrounding themselves with walls, metal, glass, and screens. Those people tend to pay a price, often with their health and quality of life.

Read more via NPR >>

ecotrek fitness

Here are ways to use the parks to achieve your fitness goals!

Join Ottawa County Parks for a free Step it Up! group walk. Check out the schedule here

Sign up for an outdoor fitness class!

Ecotrek Fitness offers outdoor fitness classes in Ottawa County and beyond!

Pop Up Fitness offer outdoor fitness classes in Holland, MI

Photo via Ecotrek Fitness. 

April Showers...

Not sure you're up for playing outside in the rain? That's ok, there are things to do indoors as well!

Learn more about local history along the Grand River Greenway at the first of four lectures presented by Marjie Viveen:

Old Times, Places, and Faces along the Grand River Greenway

April 21 at 10 am at the Nature Education Center
Hemlock Crossing County Park. 

Have you ever heard of Germania Park? Do you know where it got its name? If not, join us on April 21 to find out!

germania park
Photo via the Tri-Cities Historical Museum
picnic at the park
Photo via the Tri-Cities Historical Museum


More to do on a rainy day...

Ottawa County Parks offers a variety of programs for all ages, indoor and outdoor. Join them for a Wildlife Encounters presentation (there's one for kids too!), an open house at the Grand Ravines Lodge. Learn more about gardening with native plants or Michigan's turkey hunting heritage

See all of the programs and summer camps offered by the parks here:

A special partner event

Grand Lady Cruise

Hosted by the Friends of Ottawa County Parks

May 15 - 1:30 pm and 4:00 pm trips

Schedule a special spring outing and support the Friends of Ottawa County Parks at the same time! Reservation forms are available at:

Print, complete, and return the form, along with payment ($10/person). Excursions will be held rain or shine.

grand lady riverboat

We can't wait for those May flowers!