Wilderness Act Ripple
by Nancy Hulka of Muskegon
Drop a stone in a calm lake and the circular ripples radiate outward gently touching objects in their path; a floating leaf, fallen feather or scampering insect. Like a dropped stone labeled “preservation” the ripple effect of the 1987 Michigan Wilderness Act has positively touched Michigan’s most fragile eco-systems, encircling landscapes, flora, and fauna with a growing protective shield that will float through time.
The ripple of the Wilderness Act also reaches the people who seek to peacefully recreate or revitalize in a natural landscape free of human-made attractions or distractions.
The protected setting having touched me the most is the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area, were I’m always thankful a place exists to enjoy Lake Michigan and irreplaceable sand dunes without being surrounded by vacation homes or commercial establishments.
At Nordhouse I laced up my hiking boots, feeling comfortable and safe enough, to pursue solo backpacking trips, and with the ripple of each successful adventure, carried confidence back to the developed world.
Wanting to share my love for Nordhouse, I introduced my future husband to the area where the sights and sounds of a protected environment encircled us. We learned about one another while exploring woodlands that transition to towering golden dunes kissed by Lake Michigan.
We hiked through maple, beech and oak forests with eyes soaking in the color of native wildflowers, such as orange wood lily, white trillium and yellow trout lily. We were treated to hooting owls, scampering chipmunks, leaping deer and stately Great Blue Heron gliding overhead.
The deep blue trailside huckleberries and shimmering blackberries offered our palette a taste of nature’s confections. Our ears delighted at hearing a symphony of waves rumbling in a strong west wind or the hypnotizing under song of water lapping at the shore in a gentle breeze. Fine grains of beach sand gently tingled our bare feet as we walked for miles and talked about the future on a sun lit shore. In the evenings the sky seemingly put on a show just for us by painting sunsets in fiery reds or in oranges outlined by purple hues.
On the shore we searched for striking pieces of colorful beach glass, broken glass with edges polished smooth by Lake Michigan waves and sand. The pieces of polished glass are a reminder that given an opportunity nature can begin to reclaim the damage done by humans.
Embraced in the spreading circle of Nordhouse’s beauty my husband I have been touched to now advocate for land conservancy, habitat preservation and energy conservation. We hope our efforts will radiate to help plants, animals and humans, as all life depends upon a healthy eco-system.
The radiating preservation ripple of the Wilderness Act grows bigger with each person who is gently touched by the quiet splender of natural places. Thanks to those forward looking individuals from twenty-five years ago dropping the “preservation stone,”future generations can also discover, explore, learn, and pass on their love for locations such as the Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness Area.