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.splash
    Water Fun—Carter Seitz and Colson Walter take a fast trip along a plastic sliding strip while water from a sprinkler provides the lubrication. The boys took a break from tie-dyeing last week at Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program to cool off in the water.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.pokemon
    LATEST CRAZE—David Cortes (left) and Ty Kruse, along with Jerred Heselschwerdt (standing), consult their smartphones while engaging in the game of Pokémon Go. The virtual scavenger hunt comes to life when players are in the vicinity of gyms, such as Stair District Library, and PokéStops such as the fire station across the street. The boys had spent time Monday morning searching for Pokémon at Wakefield Park.
  • Front.drum
    on your mark, get set, drum!—Drew Joughin (black shirt), Maddox Joughin and Kaleea Braun took the front row last week when Angela Rettle and assistants led the Stair District Library Summer Reading Program kids in a session of cardio drumming. The sports and healthy living theme continued yesterday with a Mini Jamboree at Lake Hudson State Park arranged by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Next week’s program features the Flying Aces Frisbee show.
  • Girls.on.ride
    NADIYA YORK and Aniston Valentine take a spin on the Casino, one of the rides offered at Wakefield Park during Morenci’s Town and Country Festival. This year’s festival remained dry but with plenty of heat during the three-day run. Additional photographs are inside this week’s Observer.
  • Front.softball
    Angela Davis (2) and teammate Allison VanBrandt break into a jig after Morenci's softball team won its third consecutive regional title.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • 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.
  • 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.

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