Improvements eyed at county parks
ESCANABA — Spring is still months away, but the Delta Conservation District (DCD) is busy getting ready for park projects in 2020.
At Pioneer Trail Park, DCD Executive Director Rory Mattson said work on the park’s new sewer system is already underway.
“Late fall and this winter, we’re installing all the piping for the sewer system,” he said.
The installation, which is expected to cost the county an estimated $31,000, will be finished in the spring.
“When that project gets done, we should have 21 … full hook-up sites,” Mattson said.
These campsites will include electricity, water and sewer hook-ups. Currently, sites at Pioneer Trail Park only offer electricity and water hook-ups.
Additionally, a new entrance sign for Pioneer Trail Park is set to be installed in the spring at a cost of $5,000. The park’s previous sign was removed as a result of the Michigan Department of Transportation’s work on the US 2 and 41 bridge over the Escanaba River.
Mattson said the new sign may be more visible at night than the park’s former sign was.
“We’re going to try to light it,” he said.
Pioneer Trail Park’s old pavilion will also receive some improvements in 2020. Some of the pavilion’s supports have partially rotted, which the improvements will aim to fix.
“We’re going to be working on the supports there,” Mattson said.
The work should cost $1,000.
At Fuller Park, a fence will be installed to separate park property from a nearby landowner.
“We have a property (divider) fence that will divide the south and west end … from the adjacent private property,” Mattson said.
He noted the county promised to the landowner that the fence would be installed when additional land was purchased for Fuller Park a few years ago. The fence project is expected to cost $1,000.
Four Fuller Park campsites will be lifted in the spring at an anticipated cost of $10,000.
“Because of the high water in the lake, we’re going to have to lift sites 30 through (33),” Mattson said.
Six rustic sites will be put in at Fuller Park this year, as well. These are expected to cost $5,000.
Other work at Fuller Park in 2020 will be done to fix a leaking flowing-well casing (which should cost $500) and upgrade vault toilets on the north campground (which should cost $5,000).
Substantial work is set to be done at Rapid River Falls Park this year.
“We’ll be putting in a brand-new 25-site campground with electricity,” Mattson said.
The new campground is set to open in 2021 and to cost $118,000, with $87,000 covered by a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant. It is primarily meant to accommodate four-wheeler and side-by-side users.
The DCD also plans to fix a leaking flowing-well casing (at a cost of $1,500) and put up two new road signs and a gate (at costs of $1,500 and $500, respectively) at Rapid River Falls Park.
Mattson went on to speak about the Delta County Forest, which is under DCD management. He said 2020 should mark the end of a timber reserve kept by former owner Weyerhaeuser.
“We’re hoping if the weather holds … all that harvesting will be done,” Mattson said.
Work on the county forest’s main road and side roads should be able to move forward once the timber reserve ends.
“Then, we will be finishing the grant that we got from the DNR,” Mattson said.
The DNR awarded U.P. Whitetails and Wildlife Unlimited of Delta County a grant to fund the development of wildlife habitats in the county forest. A total of $65,000 has been provided by the DNR for the work; the wildlife groups are contributing $10,000 each.
Mattson said the DCD plans to create a map of the county forest after the timber reserve ends.
“I’ll also be writing a 100-year forest management plan,” he said.
The management plan will cost $5,000.
Aside from these projects, Mattson will be working on a county recreation plan for 2021-26.
“That will include the U.P. State Fairgrounds, because they’re also in the recreation plan,” he said.