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Black and Gold Pride


0:04 >> [MUSIC] You walk down this little trail and then it kind of opens up into this space you would

0:08 never even realize exists when you're up sitting in a classroom on campus.

0:12 [MUSIC] It's just a great way for me to feel

0:19 connected and know that everything I've been learning in all my classes

0:24 has real-world implications and I can see that there's still good to be done.

0:29 There's important work that we can do and

0:31 there's a connection to be made with the natural world.

0:34 [MUSIC]

0:45 >> The bio preserve was set up for the purposes of research and education,

0:49 and it's about 110 acres.

0:52 It's broken up into two different allotments,

0:54 the Western preserve and the Eastern preserve.

0:58 It's a place to decompress.

1:00 It's peaceful, it's more quiet,

1:02 there's birds chirping, there's interesting beautiful things to look at.

1:07 There aren't really any other universities in Southeast Michigan that

1:10 have a nature preserve on their main campus.

1:13 It's really an island about diversity.

1:15 It's really surrounded by a sea of development,

1:18 of urbanization and sub-urbanization.

1:19 Just from the perspective of biodiversity,

1:22 it's wonderful to have this resource.

1:23 [MUSIC] So this whole area is consisted a fen,

1:32 and it's a special type of wetland and what distinguishes it from other types

1:35 of wetlands is that the water originates from groundwater.

1:39 So this is up-welling groundwater and because it spends so much time underground,

1:43 it has a really unique chemical constituency that reflects the local geology.

1:48 This creates very specialized plant communities in

1:50 these fens and is one of the reasons that it's such a unique ecosystem.

1:57 Historically, if you looked at this wetland,

2:00 it was a very open landscape.

2:02 It was dominated by grasses and other herbaceous vegetation.

2:05 But in the absence of fire,

2:07 what we have is woody encroachment from the perimeter that eventually

2:11 chokes out these wetland plants that would've been dominant historically.

2:14 One of the main goals is to get rid of these exotic,

2:17 invasive woody plants that have become so dominant.


2:35 >> We are gathered here today to witness

2:38 an iteration of a very ancient tradition among indigenous peoples.

2:45 The use of fire as medicine and as a way of caring for the land.

2:55 Prescribed burning has been the process of reintroducing fire

3:00 to the landscape in which fire has been a regular occurrence for thousands of years.

3:04 As a result the native plant species have become really

3:09 well adapted and thrive on the impacts of prescribed fire.

3:13 [NOISE] Wildfire can be damaging for sure but

3:19 the fires that we have here in Michigan are not like

3:23 the wildfires that we see images of out west.

3:26 Fire here is much lower to the ground

3:30 and it's much more well contained and especially prescribed fire.

3:34 It is really one of the essential tools for

3:38 most Michigan landscapes to really fully enhance the biological diversity.

3:43 [NOISE]

3:54 [MUSIC]

4:04 >> So today we're going to take soil samples from each of our control and

4:08 burn pots and then we will take them back to the lab

4:10 and analyze them for soil moisture content.

4:13 That's important because presumably the higher the water levels,

4:17 the more microbial activity and the higher the decomposition.

4:20 [MUSIC] It's really nice to come out here and explore.

4:27 Not only are we learning and carrying out our experiments but we also

4:31 get to see so much natural biodiversity that it has to offer.

4:35 Fen ecosystem down here also provides a lot

4:39 of species that are not found elsewhere in Southeast Michigan,

4:42 such as mink or flying squirrel.

4:45 It's our job to protect it and preserve it as much as possible.

4:48 A lot of the work that we're doing here is we're looking at the species that we have,

4:57 they are invading the area that's really an important one.

5:01 We're not the only location that has this problem,

5:04 but not all locations that have this problem have

5:07 the resources to do all the research and understand the situation.

5:10 So the goal with what we're doing is to understand this type of situation that exists all

5:14 over the world and be able to apply what we've learned to all sorts of new situations.

5:19 [MUSIC]

5:25 >> We are planting a whole bunch of

5:26 native plant species to fends and wetland prairies is to try to

5:31 learn more about management practices for those types of

5:34 ecosystems as well as boost up some of the floral species.

5:38 Then the last step is to stomp it.

5:43 So you want to stop it on all sides around there.

5:48 >> Without those floral species,

5:50 there are no flowers for the pollinators and without the pollinators,

5:53 there are no other species that rely on them to pollinate,

5:57 as well as for food sources in addition to that.

6:00 So it's just really important that we

6:01 out-compete some of these woody species with more flowers.

6:06 We hope that after planting a bunch of these native species and

6:10 following them for either a summer or a few summers that we will

6:13 Understand more about invasive species and fens and how those are

6:16 really affecting planting and restoration tactics.

6:19 [NOISE]

6:24 >> I hope this is the first step towards a lot of similar activities in the future,

6:28 we have a 110 acre nature preserve,

6:31 almost all of which needs some sort of restoration measure,

6:35 whether it'd be seed planting or prescribed burns or the like.

6:38 I'm hopeful that we'll do lots of this in the future.

6:40 [MUSIC]

6:45 >> I think if there's anything that climate change is teaching us today,

6:49 it is that we cannot colonize every square inch of space on

6:53 the planet for human use and still expect life to thrive.

6:59 We humans are not the supreme masters,

7:02 but interdependent collaborators in the bio-diverse community of

7:07 life whose intricate workings we're just beginning to wrap our heads around.

7:15 The bio preserves can be a school house for us in that regard.

7:20 [MUSIC]

Research The Living Classroom

Take a walk down the path into Oakland University's biological preserves and see how research and conservation efforts fight invasive species, and what can be learned from connecting with the land. For more information, please visit


>> [MUSIC] Welcome to Reroot Pontiac. We're here today in Pontiac, Michigan, where we have approximately 14 acres of land. We're going to be checking out some of our cool interactive projects and let's go check them out. [MUSIC] Reroot Pontiac is a 501C3 non-profit that is transforming abandoned properties into interactive spaces to teach about environmental interaction and sustainability topics.

Though these plants are some native flowering plants that will help to support our ecosystem, as well as you can see our bio-retention area. These plants actually help to not only infiltrate water into the ground here but hold it at the surface and use it to transpire water back into the atmosphere and clean this area. This is a green infrastructure installation that was funded by Great Lakes Protection Fund to study how green infrastructure affects the flow of microplastics into our environment. [MUSIC] We're here in our garden here, and we try to use all of her installations as a way to show people how everything's connected and everything is a cycle that regenerates itself. In setting up our garden here, we've set up our soil ecosystem through inoculating mushrooms and including organic matter and compost and allowing it to really settle its soil ecosystem before we put our gardening in here. Then we put all these native pollinator plants around the edges that have really deep roots that will help to catch any of the water and nutrients that try to soak through the ground through our site and will help anything coming overland to infiltrate and really feed our garden. Because of this setup is development of the ecosystem, in four years we've never watered this garden. [MUSIC] I tell people out here that we're developing interests and awesome, just all these subjects are nothing short of awesome, and how they work together and feed into each other and help each other to grow, nothing is wasted. Well, I first realized I was passionate about environmental science and teaching when I was taking some classes at OU, I took some classes in environmental science and a class in permaculture with Faye Hanson and realized at that point, this is what I want to do. People learn differently and it's important to be able to reach people where they are. I think that's what we do here, is out here we don't teach people things. We show people cool stuff and when they develop their own interests in that stuff, then we show them how it's connected and help to develop a passion. Once someone has a passion for the subjects, then you can teach them anything. It's easy. [MUSIC]

Community Engagement Reroot Pontiac

Most OU students know Bear Lake for its photogenic location where you can come and unwind between classes. But the history behind Bear Lake is far deeper than you might expect. Here are four things you might not know about Bear Lake.

  1. Over the years, multiple cars have been found at the bottom of Bear Lake. Beginning with a truck whose parking brake failed, more than one student has had the pleasure of leaving class only to discover that their car went for a swim. One car was intentionally put into the lake by a student in 1993 and wasn’t discovered and removed until 2002. Perhaps he couldn’t find a parking spot?
  2. Bear Lake was originally known around campus as Beer Lake. No, not because the lake was composed of your favorite lager. Though the truth is murky like its waters, one story claimed a student threw a beer can into the waters and named it “Beer Lake.” Others say students used the lake to store their beer to keep it cool. Regardless of the truth, when the university changed their mascot to the Golden Grizzlies in 1998, the university rebranded the lake — Bear Lake.
  3. Do you know and love your local Big Boy restaurant? Well, OU students apparently did, as over the years at least two Big Boy statues have been found on Bear Lake, including one found in 1984. On both occasions the Big Boy statue was returned to its original owners with the campus’s apologies. At the time, the Oakland University News quipped that the Big Boy was “perhaps a bit smarter after a day in school.”
  4. Students used to swim, boat, ice skate, and canoe on Bear Lake. On a few occasions, members of the swim team were known to practice their racing starts by jumping off the bridge. The first swim allegedly took place in the summer of 66’ when a student fell out of a boat into the muddy waters and got sick the next day. Shortly after that, a 1968 Department of Health survey found that Beer Lake was unsuitable as a public beach because most of the water was from an established county drain filled with runoff from nearby subdivisions and septic tanks. In fact, that beautiful fountain you see spurting water into the cool morning air was installed to curtail the sludge and stench associated with the lake. Needless to say, please do not jump off the bridge and students no longer swim in the lake, but you can still enjoy the morning views.

And there you have it, four things you didn’t know about Bear Lake, I’ll bet you never look at it the same again.

For more information and Legends of OU, please visit

OU Pride Legends of OU: Bear Lake

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Oakland University cultivates the full potential of a diverse and inclusive community. As a public doctoral institution, we impact Michigan and the world through education, research, scholarship and creative activity.

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