Editorials

Riverside Park: Another reason to preserve it 2012.09.12

Written by David Green. Posted in Editorials

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.

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