DETROIT (WWJ) – Michigan is doing some tree-culling as it tidies up Detroit’s Belle Isle before it becomes a state park.
The state Department of Natural Resources announced on Tuesday that its employees are continuing work this week on the Detroit River island to remove and dispose of hazardous trees.
“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,” said Kevin Sayers, coordinator of the DNR’s Urban Forestry Program, in a media release. “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.”
DNR Forest Resources Division staff trained in hazard-tree assessment first inspected the trees, using a process followed by the U.S. Forest Service and by the DNR in other Michigan state parks and campgrounds. The majority of trees marked and felled showed obvious signs of hazard conditions.
“Trees were visually inspected for structural defects, hollow cavities and root issues,” said Ron Murray, DNR forest health supervisor. “Trees with cracks, signs of rot, wounds or suspected cavities were drilled with a small diameter bit to determine if enough sound wood remained to reasonably support the trees.”
Additional immediate improvement efforts will address low-hanging fruit so the public can have a safe and comfortable park experience, according to the DNR.
Open and restored restrooms, enjoyable picnic areas and cleared trails are just some of the areas that are being handled first. Additional immediate priorities include refuse management, picnic shelter repairs, and staff hiring, which is already in progress. Assessments will also be conducted on the storm water, electrical, water, sanitary and security systems, in addition to a playground equipment assessment for quantity, safety and location.
The 982-acre park will open Feb. 10 as Michigan’s 102nd state park. Michigan will operate it under a long-term lease from the city of Detroit. Gov. Rick Snyder has pledged to invest $10 million to $20 million in the first three years of state management of the island.
When a transition period ends Feb. 10, the DNR will begin phasing in requirement of the Recreation Passport for vehicles entering Belle Isle. The Passport – $11 for resident vehicles, $5 for resident motorcycles – can easily be purchased when a driver renews his or her license plate registration through Secretary of State, or can be bought at the park.