Twin Creek Nature Area to become educational site
Green infrastructure and pollinator garden part of ecological habitat
EVART - The Twin Creek Nature Area in Evart will soon become a place for education and experimentation.
The TCNA was established by the Nestlé company, owner of the land north of the Osceola County 4H Fairgrounds, as part of a project that included paving the road along the property and creating a stormwater retention system to handle runoff from the paved road.
"There was a lot of desire in the community to have the road paved, but the city was reluctant to put in the necessary stormwater retention ponds because of the required maintenance," explained Arlene Anderson-Vincent, Nestlé Water North American Technical and Production manager. "Nestlé paid to pave the road and put in catch basins to collect the runoff from the road and direct it into a bioswale in the nature area."
A bioswale is a gently sloping trench that mimics nature to manage and clean the stormwater. The bioswale in the Twin Creek Nature Area slows the water flow and settles sediment and contaminants from the water before it reaches Twin Creek.
"There is a series of rain gardens and wetlands that are constructed to clean the stormwater," Anderson-Vincent said. "It is also constructed with a liner that protects the groundwater and is protective of the creek so that stormwater is not running directly into it."
The idea was to develop this green infrastructure, through an agreement with the city of Evart, to handle the runoff from the road and clean the stormwater to protect the groundwater and the creek, she said.
"Once we started constructing it, we had the vision to turn it into an educational opportunity for the various stakeholders," Vincent-Anderson said. "There are not a lot of systems like this in the area. I think there will be a lot of interest from schools."
"We are trying to highlight the ecology of the area and provide an opportunity for students and others to study the different aspects such as water quality, invasive species, and native habitats," she added.
Plans for the nature area include planting native wildflowers to create a pollinator habitat, removing non-native trees and replace them with native trees, planting wetland plants and establishing a raingarden.
The intention of the nature area is to protect water resources, preserve and enhance native habitats and ecosystems and serve as an outdoor classroom, Anderson-Vincent said.
"It is intended to be ecology and education focused," she said. "We want to educate people on the diverse ecology that is native to Michigan. I am reaching out to the various stakeholders to establish agreements to provide access to the area."
Vincent-Anderson expects the nature area to be a great place for school field trips for elementary through high school, and 4H groups and other youth groups, as well as college bio engineering departments.
"We are hoping to get conservation groups involved, and we have talked with the Evart garden club about getting involved," she said. "It will take a couple of years to get everything established, but we are excited to have the bioswale, the pathways and the signage put in, and we are ready to welcome groups to study the different aspects that the area has to offer."
Signs along the path give important information about the different aspects of the nature area, including how the bioswale works and how the pollinator habitat and raingarden help protect and promote native species in the area.
Vincent-Anderson said she will be in contacting various stakeholders throughout the area to let them know about the educational and experimental opportunities available at the nature area.