Saline Twp’s Preserved Land Likely to Expand

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The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund board recommended to the Michigan Legislature on Dec. 14 that Washtenaw County receive $541,800 to purchase the Saline Reserve.

The 44.8 acres of natural land off Macon Rd in Saline Twp includes 3,700 feet of frontage on the Saline River. This preserve will be added to the existing parks and preserves along the Saline River and connected to the Leslee Niethammer Preserve via a bridge across the river. Natural features include amphibian habitat, forest, rolling slopes, dogwood shrubs, marsh, and grassland.

The recommendation is one of the 45 the board made for recreation projections and land acquisitions across the state totaling $23,306,200. The committee reviewed this year 124 applications requesting over $53 million. Eligible applications were selected by a scoring criterion approved by the board.

When approved, the Saline Preserve will be managed by Washtenaw County Parks and Rec for the county’s 30th nature preserve.

From the county’s application:

“Since trails are already developed on the site, it can be opened within 90 days of closing for public use with the establishment of a small dirt road pull-off for cars on Macon Road, where a kiosk will be installed that will display the MNRTF grant plaque, facility rules, hours of operation (dawn-dusk), and a map of the site. The land use along the road is active agriculture, so only minimal vegetation removal would be needed and there would be little impact to the site’s natural resources. There are two potential mutually inclusive options for permanent access development to the site. The first option would be to put in a 5 to 7 car gravel parking lot where the temporary pull-off would be at first, still in full view of Macon Road. The best option recreationally is to construct a bridge over the Saline River to connect the site to York Township’s Leslee Niethammer Saline River Preserve—which has its own parking lot and trail system—immediately extending the total trail length. This connection would link the Grossman property into the City of Saline’s trail plan to connect their Salt Springs Park through the DNR Fisheries property and Leslee Niethammer Preserve to their Wilderness Park. A bridge would take up to four years to construct, due to needed hydrologic studies and permits, and working in partnership with York Township.”

The Trust Fund board recommends funding to state and local agencies for development projects and land acquisitions to further access public outdoor recreation.

“Since its establishment 46 years ago, the Trust Fund has contributed more than $1.3 billion in grants to local governments, greatly improving the quality of life of Michigan residents and visitors through diverse and accessible outdoor recreation opportunities,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in a statement announcing the recommendations. “Whether you’re hiking a paved trail close to home, birdwatching in a community park or watching your grandkids enjoy an accessible playground, all of these Trust Fund-supported experiences greatly benefit our mental and physical health and significantly contribute to local economies.”

The Trust Fund board's recommendations will go to the Michigan Legislature for review as part of the appropriations process. Upon approval, the Legislature forwards a bill to the governor for her signature.

Image courtesy of MDNR

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