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Frequently Asked Questions

Visiting Blandford

Why does Blandford charge admission? Don't my tax dollars support you?

Blandford Nature Center is an independent non-profit, which means that we do not receive any tax funding. All of our support comes from program fees, memberships, annual donations from our wonderful supporters, gifts from corporations, and awarded grants.

Your admission dollars help support the operations of the Nature Center so that we can do trail maintenance for your safety and access, building maintenance, and land stewardship projects, all to improve the experience you have. Our land management efforts have already allowed for the return of the American Woodcock and Bluebirds in the meadow, fox dens, and even mink along the creek. Your support helps make this possible! We want to be a resource for the community long-term and this is another step in that direction.  This 2013 MLive article gives more details if you are interested in learning more.

Do I have to pay admission if I only want to walk on the trails?

Yes. Your admission dollars help us continue to maintain and improve the trails. Did you know that it takes up to 300 cubic yards of mulch and 2,500 hours annually to maintain our trails for your enjoyment? If you plan to come often, we encourage membership. Blandford members get in free everyday! More details about membership, including an online option to become a member can be found at our Membership page.

What is there to to do at Blandford?

  • Enjoy a day with your family at one of our Signature Events (Jeans & Jewels, Harvest Festival, Sugarbush and Longest Day 5K)
  • Hike our well maintained trails and explore our unique grounds through the changing seasons
  • Complete a self-guided hike using a FREE, themed trail day pack located in the Visitor Center (trail day packs made possible by Amway)
  • Rent snowshoes for a fun way to explore our winter trails
  • Blaze your way through Blandford’s trails with your cross-country skis
  • Enjoy outdoor play with your children by spending time in our Nature Nook playscape
  • Learn more about ecosystems, land stewardship and wildlife through one of our community programs like Eco-Stewards Work Days and Owl Prowl
  • Enjoy the rotating, local art exhibits installed in the Visitor Center’s auditorium
  • Spend time observing  songbirds, birds of prey and mammals within the Visitor Center’s observation area
  • Take advantage of Blandford’s FREE field guides and natural history library
  • Purchase unique gifts for the nature lovers in your life from our Gift Shop

Do I need to let Blandford know if I'm bringing out a group for a self-guided exploration?

Groups of 10 or more are required to call ahead. Call 616-735-6240 to let us know you are coming. We ask for at least 24 hours notice. Please be courteous of and yield to our guided groups and summer campers. Areas being used in our programming may be off limits; please ask at Visitor Services during check in for areas off limits. Trail packs may be checked out at the Visitor Services desk to aid in your self-exploration and we are happy to give your groups some suggestions of trails to check out. Regular admission rates apply.

Is there a Rapid bus route to Blandford Nature Center?

Yes. The Rapid bus number 7 stops at the corner of Hillburn Ave. and Leonard St, which is up the street from Blandford. A 1/4 mile walk north on Hillburn brings you to our Interpretive Center. For more information, call The Rapid at (616) 776-1100 or visit www.ridetherapid.org.

When are the historic buildings open?

The historic buildings are normally only open to the public on festival days, but we have been working to have them open more often. However, this is based on volunteer interpreter availability. Please check our community programs page to see if the cabin or schoolhouse are open soon. Regular admission fees apply to visit the buildings.

Trail & Property Etiquette 

Can I walk my dog at Blandford?

You certainly can! However, we do require that your dog is on a leash, stays on the trails, and that there is a doggy waste bag in hand to pick up unwanted extras. Dogs are allowed everywhere except on our Wildlife trail and inside our buildings.

Can I ride my bike on the trails?

No. Please park and lock your bikes at the provided bike racks, then enjoy your walk on the trails. Our trails are designed to be enjoyed by hikers and riding your bike not only disturbs the trails but takes away from the safety of those walking. Blandford promotes recreational uses that are low-profile, low-impact and consistent with our land ethic values. The City of Walker and Grand Rapids have other bike-friendly parks you can explore.

Can I use my hammock at Blandford?

Yes, you can! Hammocking is a great way to embrace nature passively. We ask that if you are going to hammock on our property that you:

  • First check into the Visitor Center to pay admission ($3 non-members & FREE for members for access to all trails, buildings and BNC property). If you rode a bike, the bike can be locked at our bike rack in front of the visitor center as bike riding isn’t permitted on our trails.
  • Utilize mature trees. Using too young/small of trees can damage their growth for the long term…meaning less trees for hammocking, animals’ homes, and our program use.
  • Avoid using nails or hooks as they damage the bark on trees allowing for bacteria, fungus, and disease to enter the tree. Tie hammocks only please.
  • Please avoid sensitive areas like the creek, ravines, and any ecosystem restoration spots.
  • Respect other visitors. If you are playing music, please keep it at a volume and in a genre (kid-friendly if little ones are around) that doesn’t disturb other visitors’ time at Blandford. If you bring food or other goods, please make sure to pack out what you pack in.

Can I play in the creek?

Please don’t. We take small groups in/near the creek but only with one of our educators so that students/visitors can learn about erosion, riparian zones, and the ecological health of the creek and the impact humans have on it. Our Land Stewardship Manager and our many volunteers have been doing great work restoring the creek banks to help ease the erosion issues, as well as provide habitat for native wildlife. The creek looks like an awesome place to play but please stay on the trails so that we can restore the habitat for the plants and animals that need it to survive. Thank you for your cooperation!

Can I use my snowshoes or cross-country skis on Blandford's trails?

Yes. Please feel free to use your own snowshoes or cross-country skis on our trails. Please keep in mind that our trails are not specifically groomed for winter recreation.

Don’t have snowshoes of your own? Come to Blandford’s Visitor’s Center to rent a pair ($5 members, $6 non-members)! There needs to be a minimum of 3 inches of snow in order to rent our snow shoes.

Wildlife

Will you take my injured wildlife?

We no longer accept animals for rehabilitationWe made the tough decision in Fall 2013; read more about our decision here.

For animal needs, please contact the following wildlife rehabbers:

  • Peg and Roger Markle at 616-361-6109 for help with injured baby birds, baby mammals or reptiles. Please note that Peg and Roger do not accept raccoons.
  • Sjana Gordon at 616-885-4223 for racoons, fawn, squirrels, rabbits, chickens, and ducks.

Michigan has recently confirmed its first case of Chronic Wasting Disease in White-tailed deer. If you see a suspicious looking deer, please call either the:

  • DNR Wildlife Disease Lab at 517-336-5030 or fill out this form on the MI DNR website.
  • Wildlife Disease Hotline 617-614-9602

I have an animal/pest causing problems to my property...can I trap it and drop it off at Blandford?

Please DO NOT drop off any animals on Blandford property. Doing so would cause many problems for the wildlife at Blandford. We only have enough property to support a specific amount of animals. Dropping off any additional wildlife or animals could disrupt Blandford’s ecology or cause territory issues between wildlife.

If you are experiencing any problems with wild animals on your personal property please contact your local pest or animal control.

What should I do if I find an abandoned baby animal?

Many of the baby animals found don’t need our help and bringing them to a wildlife rehabber without previous permission greatly decreases their chance of survival. Click here for more information on what to do if you find a baby animal.

Unless you are a licensed rehabber, please do not try to raise wild baby animals! It is illegal to possess a wild animal without the proper permits. Raising wildlife is bad for many reasons:

  • Wild animals carry diseases that can be passed onto humans.
  • Wild animals can be imprinted onto humans, losing their fear and decreasing their chances of survival in the wild, and increasing their chances of attacking people.
  • Specific diets and housing needs are necessary for animals that many people are not aware of, which can disfigure or kill these animals.
  • If you do want a pet rabbit, turtle, etc., please go to your local pet store or animal shelter only after researching how to properly care for these animals.

Other

How do I get my student into the Blandford School?

Grand Rapids Public Schools runs the Blandford Environmental Education Program that is housed on the Nature Center’s propoerty. Click here for more information about Blandford School