Commercial Record

Trails: call of wild takes foot foot

By Scott Sullivan
The RiverWood Council, new name for the Tri-Community Trail Master Plan Committee, announced more updates in its just-released spring newsletter.
Among them is keep working with Saugatuck Township to increase access and improve amenities at the township’s Tails ‘n’ Trails Dog Park north of 134th Avenue and east of 63rd St., just west of I-196.
That means access for humans too. Northeast of the current 5-acre pet enclosure, a planned 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) cross-country course (see nearby drawing) will invite hikers and walkers to explore the remaining 35 acres of the parcel.
Planned there also are a .26-mile Canopy Loop traversing the land’s more-wooded eastern portion and .8-mile Sand Bowl loop through its central part.
So far the council, its newsletter said, has surveyed the terrain, laid out main hiking trails, measured and marked the cross-country course with a coach of that sport advising, plus cleared access, filling low spots, on the 134th Avenue access path.
In progress: working with Saugatuck city to access its adjacent “old airport” property; continuing to clear, grade and condition trails; install a culvert and add parking at the 63rd Street access point, plus mark trails and add wayfinding kiosks at entries.
Wait, there’s more. Township residents Jane and Larry Dickie, the newsletter adds, have agreed to place 10-plus of their acres in a conservancy to preserve the original Old Allegan Trail trod by Indians, stories tell.
It in turn would be part of would be part of a Beach to Bridge public trail the council envisions running near the Kalamazoo River’s north bank west from the New Richmond Park swing bridge west at least to the freeway bridge.
Eventually it may connect — Why not think audaciously? — to Saugatuck Dunes State Park and beyond.
“Saugatuck Township,” notes council principal Jon VanderBeek, “is 15,488 acres. About 4,000 of them remain forested today. To sustain the quality of our life and protect future generations we must preserve and care for those remaining 4,000 acres.
“We see development accelerating,” he continues, “and too often it’s at the expense of our area’s remaining natural spaces, even when there are feasible, win-win alternatives. That’s where RiverWood Council comes in.
“We are studying the landscape and building a network that can bring stakeholders together around conservation-based approaches to land development and improvement.
“Our first commitment is to extend the natural health and abundance of our communities — human and non-human.”
Access isn’t evil. “We hope you will join us,” Jane Dickie adds, “in walking, building and cultivating trails, and discovering ways to grow in harmony with our trees, and the diverse communities and wild populations they support.”

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