Saturday, April 18, 2009

Galien River Park, Water Trail Will Be Big Change

pony truss bridge, Galien River, MI
the last remaining Pony Truss Bridge spans the Galien River in Berrien County (photo from the MI DOT)
based on a news article in the South Bend Tribune, "New park a win for Galien River," April 17, 2009

"The proposed Galien River County Park in New Buffalo is the waterway's best news in perhaps a century." Over time, millions of dollars in EPA money has gone for clean up of the damage to the river, known for having the highest E. coli counts in the state of Michigan.

Now an $8 million development along the Galien River in New Buffalo Township will include a lodge, interpretative center, walking trails and observation decks. The park encompasses 86 acres.

The National Parks Service and Chikaming Open Lands are partnering to create the nearby Galien Marsh Water Trail. This phase will likely take two years to develop, but will include a canoe livery and interpretive signage. The marsh is the largest remaining in southwest Michigan, and is a sanctuary for migrating birds. It also contains a diverse collection of native plants and wildlife.

The park land was purchased with money from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust, Pokagon Fund, the Great Lakes Fisheries Trust and federal stimulus funds.
Galien River Watershed, MI
map of the Galien River watershed (from the MI DEQ)
The river is the historic home of the Potawatomi Indians who fished and hunted these woods and waters. Peg Kohring, a Sawyer botanist and Midwest director of The Conservation Fund, says that good water quality is critical to the current projects. Suspected septic failures in Three Oaks and Weesaw Township are the next pollution problems to be solved along the river.

Volunteers occasionally help with a river cleanup day. Broad-based support from people in the New Buffalo area will be important for this park and increased recreational use of the Galien River to succeed.

See Pony Truss Bridge
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1 comment:

Elizabeth Barrette said...

This sounds like a wonderful trail. Too many times, the parks try to keep people away from the water. There are practical reasons for that, but it does diminish the experience of nature. I like being able to look down into a lake or creek and see the fish, plants, etc.

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