Riverside Park: Another reason to preserve it 2012.09.12

Written by David Green.

Think you’ll make it through the lengthy story about moths in this week’s Observer? That’s OK, we don’t expect everyone to take an interest in the subject, but we know that some readers will find it good reading.

Even if you don’t give a darn about moths, there are still some interesting points to take away from the story. For one thing, it’s not simply an enormous story about moths; it’s an enormous story about a guy who’s fascinated with moths. There’s a tattooed, pony-tailed machinist from Auburn Hills who travels great distances to find moths. Stereotypes suggest that this guy doesn’t stay up through the early morning hours chasing after moths in the dark woods.

The other thing about the story is discovering once again the importance of Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. People have visited the park for decades in search of native plants. Several years ago, Riverside gained some fame from the impressive population of mollusks living in adjacent Bean Creek. 

Now we learn it’s a prized habitat for some uncommon moths. For many years people have driven far to reach the park to study butterflies and moths. It’s one more reason to value the park as a wild area.

At a recent city council meeting, a resident lodged a complaint about the condition of Riverside. It wasn’t how he remembered it sometime in his past. Based on his memories, the park was a mess.

Mayor Keith Pennington noted that the condition of the park has been a source of contention for many years. Should it be a manicured space like the city’s other parks or should it stay on the wild side—a unique public wood lot within the city?

In 2004 city council confirmed what others had decided in the past, that Riverside should remain in a somewhat ungroomed state. We realize that the present set of council members or another group in the future could reverse that opinion. Level the place and start fresh.

That would be a big loss, not only to visitors from far away who come to find the fat mucket clam, the Gold Moth and bladdernut trees. It would be a loss for everyone in the area who enjoys a quiet walk in the woods, for the kids looking for adventure, for photographers, for families enjoying nature.

We hope city council realizes that nature can get a little messy, that a natural area can’t also be a manicured park. Riverside is unique among parks in this area and we hope it remains that way.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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