York Township nature area near Milan gets pedestrian bridge as part of preservation program
Courtesy of Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation
A new pedestrian bridge has arrived in a county nature preserve west of Milan in York Township.
Crews installed a pedestrian bridge in the Draper-Houston Meadows preserve in late January on the Saline River.
While a half-mile looped path covers the northeast corner of the preserve, another path is planned for the west side of the river, said Bob Tetens, the director of Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation.
In the future, the bridge will connect the existing path in the north of the preserve with the new trail, which will lead to Milan public schools south of the preserve, Tetens said. That work should get under way in the spring and summer. The paths will be soft and marked with wooden markers or fallen trees, said Tom Freeman, assistant director for parks and recreation.
The preserve contains a floodplain forest habitat that includes sycamore, butternut, walnut and oak trees, as well as pawpaw trees that are unusual for Washtenaw County, said Freeman. Former farm fields make up the south of the preserve, and the property includes roughly a half-mile of frontage on the Saline River.
The county bought the preserve in 2008 under the Natural Areas Preservation Program. The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners created the program, and voters agreed to pay for it in the November 2000 election. The 10-year natural areas millage was approved again in November 2010.
The Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission has administered the program since then. Seventeen nature preserves have been created from 30 purchased parcels. The preserves typically include a gravel lot for four to six cars, plus some signs and paths. Access to the Draper-Houston Meadows preserve is off Mooreville Road.
Over the last decade, Washtenaw County taxpayers have paid about $19 million to buy 1,850 acres of land and preserve it from future development. The bridge cost $45,000.