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.bridge Cross
    STEP BY STEP—Wyatt Stevens of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge Sunday during the Michigan DNR’s Great Outdoors Jamboree at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The Tecumseh Boy Scout Troop constructed the bridge again this year after taking a break in 2016. The Jamboree offered a variety of activities for a wide range of age groups. Morenci’s Stair District Library set up activities again this year and had visits with dozens of kids. See the back page for additional photos.
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    LEADING THE WAY—The Morenci Area High School marching band led the way across the pedestrian bridge on Morenci’s south side for the annual Labor Day Bridge Walk. The Band Boosters shared profits from the sale of T-shirts with the walk’s sponsor, the Morenci Area Chamber of Commerce. Additional photos are on the back page.
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    LOOKING UP—More than 200 people showed up at Stair District Library Monday afternoon to view the big celestial event with free glasses provided by a grant from the Space Science Institute. The library offered craft activities from noon to 1 p.m., refreshments including Cosmic Cake from Zingerman’s Bakehouse and a live viewing of the eclipse from NASA on a large screen. As the sky darkened slightly, more and more people moved outside to the sidewalk to take a look at the shrinking sun. If you missed it, hang on for the next total eclipse in 2024 as the path comes even closer to this area.
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    THE MAYOR—Cecil Schoonover poses with a collection of garden gnomes that mysteriously arrive and disappear from his property. Along with the gnomes, someone created the sign stating that he is the Mayor of Gnomesville. He hasn’t yet tracked down the people involved in the prank, but he’s having a good time with the mystery.
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    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
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    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
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