Aman Park inducted into ‘Network’

Aman Park Trail is a scenic trail located within Indian Trails Camp. It's open to the public for hiking and cross-country skiing. Courtesy Experience Grand Rapids

Aman Park was recently recognized by the Old-Growth Forest Network for its protections, ecological quality and value to the community as a future old-growth forest. The 339-acre park is home to a unique second-growth forest and is the largest of Grand Rapids’ city-owned parks. OGFN has recognized more than 180 forests in 32 states. Aman Park will be the seventh Michigan forest to be inducted into the network.

“We’re honored to have a Grand Rapids park recognized for such a rare distinction,” said David Marquardt, director of Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation. 

Located at 0 -1859 Lake Michigan Dr. and situated on the banks of Sand Creek, tree species in the park are diverse, with northern red oak, eastern hemlock, red maple, American beech, black cherry, white oak and white pine in areas of higher elevation. Silver maple and sycamore trees are common in the lowlands along the creek bed.

Aman park is open throughout the winter for hiking and cross-country skiing. Courtesy Friends of Grand Rapids Parks

Most of the land – 254 acres – that makes up the modern day boundaries of the park was donated by landowner Jacob Aman in 1926, two years before his death. Aman made his living as a carpenter and harvested trees from the park. Aman’s neighbors Dr. Joel C. Parker and William F. Sweet also donated land. 

 “This donated land has been an enduring gift to our community and beyond for its biodiversity and natural beauty,” Marquardt said.

Trillium wildflowers cover the forest floor at Aman Park

Aman created paths and picnic areas and, in his later years, lived alone on the 10 acres of the donated land in a modest dwelling acting as the park supervisor. The park serves the community as a scenic natural area used for self-guided hiking and cross-country skiing. 

In the 1930’s the City of Grand Rapids had school children plant oak seedlings and walnuts in a 50-acre tract in an attempt to reforest the park. The City has used the park as a tree nursery, as well. 

The OGFN connects people with nature by creating a national network of protected, publicly accessible forests, and a network of people inspired to protect them. Nick Sanchez, OFGN’s network manager lauded the forest for its plant diversity, especially its spring wildflowers.  “This forest is a refuge for the community, particularly for students from nearby Grand Valley State University, making it a great place to study forests, relax, stretch the legs and lungs, and find inspiration in nature,” Sanchez said. “Hiking through the ravines and along the shady creek, it’s easy to forget you are only miles from Michigan’s second largest city. This old-growth forest makes an excellent addition to the national network.”

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