[Blog] Up North, Downtown

July 21, 2015
By Josh Paciorek

In Michigan, “Up North” is a frequent destination. It’s where you can fish, kayak, bike, snowmobile, canoe, camp, and experience everything else northern Michigan has to offer.

Now you can do all of those things in downtown Detroit.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ new Outdoor Adventure Center—built in the city’s 120-year old Globe Building along the riverfront-- will bring a host of different outdoor experiences to Detroit, allowing visitors to learn more about Michigan’s outdoors, conservation efforts, and world-class natural resources.

Governor Rick Snyder, joined by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, DNR Director Keith Creagh, DNR staff, and other stakeholders, participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the center’s grand opening.

“The opening of the Outdoor Adventure Center is really great,” Snyder said. “It continues Detroit’s momentum by bringing another great natural resources-based experience to the city’s river front. Detroit is the Comeback City. And this is another step in its evolution. So, while we’re still trying to help on economic issues, now we’re also helping on quality-of-life issues and creating a brighter future for the kids of Detroit.”

Thanks to the OAC, young people from Detroit and around the state will now have an opportunity to learn more about Michigan’s outdoors. But this is just the first step. According to Linda Walter, the OAC director, the center’s goal is to pique children’s interests with what they see at the OAC, and then encourage them to get outside and travel Up North.

‘I think for the children of Detroit, we can give the taste of what Up North is and what fun it is to play outside,” she said. “What we’ll continue to do is get people to be excited and inspired and to be confident users of the outdoors, and we hope that starts here at the OAC.”

Director Creagh added that it’s important to reach out to kids at a young age so they understand the importance of protecting our natural resources.

“What we really need to do is garden the next group of conservationists in this state,” Creagh said. “The Outdoor Adventure Center will allow them to be citizen scientists, and understand their direct role in the preservation and promotion of Michigan’s great natural resources.”

Now open to the public, the OAC features a 40-foot tall interactive tree; off-road vehicles, bicycles, kayaks, canoes, and fishing boat simulators; a life-size beaver lodge and eagle’s nest; an indoor archery range; a freshwater aquarium, a manmade waterfall, and various other learning opportunities.

The Globe Building’s remarkable transformation into the OAC represents another chapter of Detroit’s comeback story. Constructed in the late 1800s, the building fell into despair and was abandoned for the last quarter of a century.

Today, through the work of public-private partnerships and the dedication of many hard working staff, the OAC now stands as a symbol of what can be accomplished when we work together and put partisan politics aside. The opening of the OAC was the third time Governor Snyder visited the building; the first time being in 2012 to launch the remodel and a second time in 2014 to sign the historic Grand Bargain to help solve Detroit’s bankruptcy.

“When I was first here, this building was an empty shell. It was terrible,” the governor said. “To see it today is absolutely incredible. The exhibits, activities, opportunities for everyone to learn more about the outdoors is wonderful.”

To learn more, you can visit http://www.michigan.gov/oac