Sunday, January 27, 2008

Fix-It Project for East Grand Rapids Lake

In 1991, the city of East Grand Rapids was awarded Michigan DNR's largest grant ever,$800,000, to buy the property which includes Reeds Lake. But the damage done to the shore by developers over the years may be irreversible.

City officials are working against an April 1 grant deadline for funds from the Natural Resources Trust Fund to revitalize Gilmore Waterfront Park. The plan includes reclaimation of wetlands filled in by a would-be condominium developer a quarter-century ago.

The area may once have been wetlands, but now a survey of the plant life there has revealed a score of 1 of a possible 10 points for the quality of the vegetation. What that means to the average person is lots of noxious weeds, and invasive plants. Right now, this is not an area where you would consider taking a wildflower walk.

Some believe it's too late to save the area. Jim Muller has monitored the lake for 40 years. "I think they're dreaming, if they think they're going to make a wetlands out of it. It's too late. They can create a wonderful park, but it won't be natural," he commented.

The section the city hopes to reclaim was choked years ago with fill dirt from construction projects. The environmental consulting company says that the fill dirt will need to be removed to release dormant wetland seeds, and also native plants will need to be added.

The East Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Board will hold its final public forum at 6 p.m. Monday before sending the recommendation to the City Commission for Feb. 4. Local residents have expressed their wishes that the park be restored and preserved for bird-watching, fishing and hiking.

from the Muskegon Chronicle, "Reed lake turning into swamp", Jan 26, 2008
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