July 10, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Metroparks will revisit mowing policy after complaints it killed wildlife

White Lake Township— Officials with the Huron-Clinton Metroparks Authority said Thursday they will revisit their mowing policy after nature supporters said workers killed wild animals and flowers.

John McCulloch, director of Huron-Clinton Metroparks, told concerned citizens at a meeting of the authority’s board of commissioners, that steps would be taken to ensure mowing will not again threaten fauna or flora.

“Certainly this has given us cause to resurrect the mowing policy that the board received in 2009,” McCulloch said after the public comment portion of the meeting at Indian Springs Metropark. “We are reviewing that. It is one thing to have a policy but it is another to ensure that it is implemented appropriately.”

McCulloch added Metropark staff and visitors will be informed of preserved areas, but he did not specify how that would be accomplished.

Wildlife supporters say mowing at Lake St. Clair Metropark in Harrison Township last weekend killed snakes that are endangered in the state, frogs and rare birds such as the Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark. Also lost, they say, were eggs of Monarch butterflies, whose numbers have been declining, and wildflowers such as milkweed which insects depend on.

“We too want to partner with the community,” said George Phifer, deputy director and chief of police of the Metroparks Police Department. “We will take this opportunity to take a step back and see what we can do to address the issue accordingly.”

After the meeting, nature supporters said they were somewhat encouraged by the board’s response.

Heather Slayton, past president of the Macomb Audubon Society, said she isn’t against mowing, but the timing of such maintenance was wrong.

Annie Crary of Grosse Pointe Woods, who said she enjoys the Lake St. Clair Metropark, agreed.

“I get that they need to mow but it is the wrong time of year,” said Crary, a wildlife biologist. “If they need to mow do it at the beginning of the season don’t wait until all the animals come in, start to breed and kill them.”

The Huron-Clinton Metroparks system is comprised of 13 parks in Metro Detroit.

Last month, Lake St. Clair Metropark celebrated the eco-friendly redevelopment of the newly paved parking lot designed to eliminate storm runoff from the lot to the Black Creek, and redirects the flow to the Point Rosa Marsh through vegetative filters and detention ponds.

The $3.6 million project will benefit the beach, officials said.

In 2007, the Metroparks authority committed $4 million to the redevelopment of the parking lot to address the frequent beach closures due to contamination. Two grants from the Environmental Protection Agency for $1.5 million were used for the redevelopment.

UWatson@detroitnews.com
(313) 222-2613