Funds sought for environmental work at Riverside Park

Alex Doty • Nov 6, 2017 at 12:00 AM

ROBINSON TWP. — The Ottawa County Parks Commission is hoping a grant could help restore aquatic habitat at Riverside Park.

The commission is seeking $88,000 in funding assistance from Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Aquatic Habitat grant program for ecological restoration work at the county park in Robinson Township.

Ottawa County Parks Director John Scholtz said the grant would be used to pay for improvements related to the small bayou that runs through the center of the park.

“Under the boat launch there’s a culvert that connects it all together,” he said. “That culvert is not providing adequate flow through it and adequate fish passage through it. One of the key goals is to fix the culvert and the passage through there. The whole system is cut off from the river, for all intents and purposes.”

The grant money would be used to replace misaligned culverts under the boat launch at the park to restore fish connectivity and improve fishing opportunities.

The parks department would also raise the road to the park’s back parking area to resolve persistent flooding issues. County park officials say this road was poorly located when installed many years ago, and note that it obstructs natural wetland flows, even though it has a small culvert that is now mostly blocked. Higher water levels on Lake Michigan also influence river levels in the area of the park, resulting in water over the road during much of the season.

Along with the road being raised, an additional culvert would be installed in the road leading to the back parking area to fully connect the water body for fish spawning.

The entire project is estimated to cost $188,000, with $88,000 coming from the grant, and the remainder coming from the county and various agency partners.

Scholtz noted that the county’s funding for the project on the east side of the park would be used as a match for the $88,000 in grant funding, and would be included in the county’s 2019 budget, which goes into effect Oct. 1, 2018.

“I’m guessing this would be done in 2019 if we got the grant,” Scholtz said.

He noted that the road repairs on the eastern portion of the park need to be done at some point, whether or not the grant is obtained.

“The part where we need to fix the road, that is something that we need to do,” Scholtz said. “The fish passage through the culvert is something we really should do.” 

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