Workers clear large trees from the island on Dec. 10, 2013, following a Michigan DNR, city of Detroit, Belle Isle Conservancy 'All In For Belle Isle' press conference at the Casino on Belle Isle. (Steve Perez / The Detroit News)
Detroit— Efforts to remove and dispose of hazardous trees on Belle Isle are set to resume this week in advance of its February opening as Michigan’s 102nd state park.
Officials with the State Department of Natural Resources said Tuesday employees also visited the island last week and made progress on the transitional work that began last month. Under a 30-year lease agreement between the city and state, the island will open as a state park on Feb. 10.
DNR officials have said an assessment identified at least 160 trees on the 982-acre park that must come down.
“This work is about preserving public safety around trees at this high-use park and to improve the health of the remaining trees and forests on Belle Isle,” Kevin Sayers, coordinator of the DNR’s Urban Forestry Program, said in a statement released Tuesday.
“Trees that presented the greatest risk were marked for removal, while others will be pruned to reduce potential hazards and to minimize spread of tree diseases.”
Current tree removal work will take place near Sunset, Strand, Woodside, Vista and Lakeside Drive.
“A large number of Belle Isle trees have been unknowingly injured by visitors who empty burning charcoal from picnic grills at the base of living trees,” Sayers said.
The DNR’s Parks and Recreation Division is exploring options for planting replacement trees, including donations, partnerships and expansion of its existing relationship with the Michigan Department of Corrections’ horticultural training program.
Next month, the DNR will begin phasing in a required $11 Recreation Passport for resident vehicles entering Belle Isle.