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.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
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    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
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    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
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    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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