City Council Hears About Plan to Connect Parks Along Saline River

 03/11/2017 - 01:58
David Rhoads and Jim Peters speak to city council about the proposed connecting trail between Salt Springs Park and The Leslee Niethammer Saline River Preserve.

Saline City Council met on March 6. After a moment of silence to honor the late Marilyn Crosbie, Jim Peters came forward to describe a proposed new Saline foot trail.

The trail would be within Saline city limits and pass through The Saline Fisheries Research Station, land owned by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, MDNR. The main purpose of the trail would be to connect trails in Salt Springs Park to trails in the Leslee Niethammer Saline River Preserve.

Peters has been an untiring advocate for the preservation and implementation of both properties as well as the restoration of the Saline River that passes along their western border. David Rhoads and John Stanowski have also been very active in these efforts and were present to contribute to the discussion.

A “Memo of Understanding” to be signed by MDNR, the City of Saline and the Friends of the Saline River and was prepared by the Friends group. It would authorize a 1600-foot walking trail between the Park and the Preserve along an easement granted by MDNR.

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In an earlier meeting about the development of Salt Springs Park, attendees listed connectivity of the various Saline Parks as the highest priority. This link, along with a few other short sections, would connect Mill Pond Park, Curtiss Park, Salt Springs Park, the Preserve and Wilderness Park.

Peters took the opportunity to describe some of the features of Salt Springs Park and the Preserve. He noted that there is a 20-inch sanitary line that runs through the entire length of Salt Springs Park and there are the remnants of an access road following its path.

The access road will be cleared and used for a paved pathway through the park, allowing easy access for all. This trail would connect to the new linking trail.

The Saline River Preserve is a 15-acre parcel including an 8-9-acre meadow in the middle which Peters said is “full of butterflies.” There is a network of trails within the preserve that have so far been maintained by Rhoads and his mower.

Both properties are quite new and still being developed, but the primary objective for both will be nature preservation. Most of the land is too wet at certain times of year to be used for anything else.

In addition to the plan to connect parks by a foot path, there are plans afoot to make the Saline River itself navigable for canoes and kayaks from Saline to Milan. Taking the lead on this effort is the Saline River Greenway Alliance, of which Peters is also a member.

The group is trying to establish an additional preserve along the river that would be called Mooreville Preserve at the corner of Dennison and Mooreville Roads. It would be a halfway point for canoers between Saline and Milan.

Currently travel on the Saline River is difficult due to large log jams. The Greenway Alliance has a group of volunteers that get together once or twice a month in the summer to clear these log jams. Friends of the Saline River often participate.

Council woman Heidi McClelland encouraged Peters to take the opportunity to recruit more volunteers. Peters said that many of the current volunteers are older and that they could certainly use some youthful muscle power in the effort. People wanting to volunteer on the river should contact organizers through the Friends of the Saline River Facebook page.

Mayor Marl said that Council will act on the walking trail proposal at the March 20 meeting.

Bob Conradi Is a retired pharmaceutical scientist who has redefined himself as a photographer and journalist. He has lived in Michigan for 36 years and in the Saline area for 10. He enjoys researching and learning about new ideas. Reach him at bobcphotography@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter at @RobertConradi.