Metroparks to Host Clean Ups in Parks and Highlight Habitat Restoration Projects in Celebration of Earth Day
Earth Day is this Saturday, April 22, 2023, and you might be looking for a way to get involved. The first Earth Day occurred in 1970 and was instrumental in bringing about the Environmental Protection Agency and many other environmental protection laws. Since then, people all over the world have been coming together each April to reflect on their impact on the planet, clean up their communities and work towards more sustainable practices and efforts that support a healthy environment for all of us.
This Earth Day, get involved with the Huron-Clinton Metroparks by participating in a park cleanup scheduled at Lake Erie Metropark, Lake St. Clair Metropark or Stony Creek Metropark on Saturday, April 22. Volunteering to clean up parks will help keep them pristine for visitors and the wildlife that call them home, and it’s the perfect way to celebrate Earth Day. Interested volunteers should register on the Metroparks website so staff know how many volunteers to expect.
The Metroparks are also hosting a set of programs on Earth Day geared to teach visitors about the history of the holiday and how they can make an impact themselves. Registration is also required for these programs. The full Earth Day program line-up on April 22nd is as follows:
- Earth Day Cleanup: Stony Creek Metropark (all ages) – 9am – 3pm
- Earth Day Camp: Indian Springs Metropark (ages 7 and up) – 10am – 2pm
- Earth Day Cleanup: Lake St. Clair Metropark (ages 6 and up) – 10am – 1pm
- Earth Day Cleanup: Lake Erie Metropark (all ages) – 10am – 12pm
- Earth Day History Hike: Lake Erie Metropark (all ages) – 1pm – 2:30pm
- Earth Day Heroes of Conservation: Lake Erie Metropark (ages 8 and up) – 3pm – 4pm
Full details and registration can be found at www.metroparks.com/events
As we look towards Earth Day and consider our individual impact on the planet and the environment, it is a fitting time to recognize some ongoing projects within the Metroparks that will restore habitats, improve stormwater infiltration, build green infrastructure and conserve our natural spaces.
Thanks to funding from the Consumers Energy Foundation through their Planet Awards grant program, we are completing work to heal the headwaters of the Huron River. This work will include invasive species removal, tree plantings, and native prairie/meadow plugs and seed plantings at the river’s headwaters. The headwaters of the Huron River are in Indian Springs Metropark at a heavily forested wetland called the Huron Swamp. The restoration will substantially improve important habitats that have been impacted by the loss of ash and oak trees and the subsequent expansion of invasive species to replace them. Community volunteers will aid in the collection of seed from intact park ecosystems guided by our staff. Scout troops already performed the first seed ball plantings last fall, and more volunteers are needed this summer to perform further plantings. Click here for June volunteer day details about this project.
“At the Consumers Energy Foundation, we understand how interconnected the health and wellbeing of local habitats and the native species in them is with the health of our planet, and the people of this state,” said Carolyn Bloodworth, secretary/treasurer of the Consumers Energy Foundation. “We’re proud to be involved in the efforts to protect and maintain these delicate ecosystems to ensure they can thrive for years to come.”
Additionally, the Metroparks are partnering with the Wyandot of Anderdon Nation to implement green infrastructure measures at both Lake Erie Metropark and the Six Points site. Both lie at the junction of the Detroit River and Lake Erie. Activities include the construction of green infrastructure at Lake Erie Metropark, ecological restoration of the Six Points site, and community engagement through public meetings, focus groups, educational signage, and volunteer maintenance groups. The project will install 16 naturalized swales (197,890 sq. ft.) along park roads and parking areas, 2 rain gardens (2,980 sq. ft.) at the Marshlands Museum, and the restoration of a riparian area (about 8 acres) with native vegetation at the Wyandot Six Points. The anticipated outcomes of the project include the reduction of nonpoint source pollution into Lake Erie, improved habitat around Brownstown Creek, and increased public knowledge and community engagement in stormwater management through green infrastructure. This project is in partnership with the Wyandot of Anderdon Nation and funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Visitors to all the Metroparks this spring and summer may notice more areas of taller grass and foliage and wonder why. We have expanded their “grow zones” by decreasing the amount they will regularly mow in multiple parks. This practice has multiple environmental benefits. First and foremost, it helps with stormwater management and filtration by allowing areas to slow runoff and absorb more water. Additionally, less mowing means less emissions, and lastly, some of these areas will also be planted as pollinator habitats. The expansion of grow zones will be seen in multiple parks, but visitors to Lake St. Clair Metropark in particular will notice them along the entrance and exit roads as well as along trails on the Huron Point.
“The Metroparks are committed to conserving natural resources and actively stewarding our impact on and relationship with the environment. Projects like these provide lasting benefits to our local ecosystems, and we are thankful to have great partners and funders to make them happen.” Says Huron-Clinton Metroparks Director, Amy McMillan. “As we celebrate Earth Day, we encourage all visitors to consider their personal impact on the environment we all share and to engage with projects taking place throughout our region to improve it. Together we can build a more resilient tomorrow.”