Ice Mountain receives award for Twin Creek Nature Area project

EVART — Ice Mountain has received the Wildlife Habitat Council’s Green Infrastructure Project award for its work in  developing the Twin Creek Nature Area in Evart, according to a news release from the company.

The award was presented to Ice Mountain’s Arlene Anderson-Vincent this week at the WHC’s annual national summit in Detroit.

“We are extremely proud, not only at the site but of all the partners that helped bring this to life,” Anderson Vincent told the Pioneer. “It is a reward to all the work we have been doing out here. It is a great honor for everybody that has been a piece of the hard work for this project — the community, the school groups, everyone.”

The Wildlife Habitat Council is a conservation group that has been in place for 30 years, she said. They help with resources and guidance on ways to conserve land.

Anderson-Vincent was invited to speak at the conference this year, along with representatives of several other ongoing green infrastructure projects in urban, suburban and rural areas.

MORE PHOTOS

See more photos of the Twin Creek Nature Area at theheraldreview.com.

“To get the site certified as a Wildlife Habitat Council site means you are following conservation guidelines and it is a community engagement project,” she said. “We each talked about our projects and then they announced that our was the project of the year.”

She said she believes the award was the result of the amount of time, energy and community partners that pulled the project all together. 

“I don’t think it is common to have this type of educational tool in rural areas, but it is in line with what Ice Mountain does to help restore areas back to their native and natural resources that we all rely on,” she added.

'SOLUTION TO A CHALLENGE' 

The Twin Creek Nature Area was established by the Nestle Company, who owned the land north of the Osceola County Fairgrounds in Evart, 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.

Nestle 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. The bioswale mimics nature to manage and clean the stormwater. A liner protects the groundwater and the creek by preventing the stormwater from getting to it.

In addition, there is a series of rain gardens and wetlands constructed to help clean the stormwater. 

Once construction was started, the vision became to turn the site into an educational opportunity for local all the stakeholders, Anderson-Vincent said. 

“This started as a solution to a challenge the community had,” she said. “Through multiple groups working together, we created a vision for protecting the water quality for the area by constructing the bioswale. Now we have all kinds of projects going on through our community partnerships.”

Those community partnerships include the Muskegon River Watershed Assembly, the Mecosta/Osceola Conservation District, the Evart school system, and the Evart Garden Club, she said.

The MRWA assisted in the removal of a dam along the creek bed, restoring the natural channel of the stream, Anderson-Vincent said.

“It was an old historic dam,” she said. “There was an embankment and a bridge. Dams change the water temperature, they cause erosion, they stop fish from being able to get upstream. We have been working with MRWA, the Department of natural Resources, gardeners and ecologists. We pulled out the dam and reestablished the bank. We seeded the bed with logs which give the fish a natural place to stop and take a break. So, this is a great project restoring the area back to its original and natural state.”

She added, they will eventually have a sign giving information about dams, and natural stream habitats.

'A MORE NATIVE MICHIGAN FOREST'

 Another major project is reforestation efforts. Anderson-Vincent said they have been working with a forester to remove several non-native pines from the area and replace them with native Michigan trees.

“These trees were planted here and are not native to Michigan,” she said. “They are not the best for wildlife because they don’t make the best branches for nests. We recently has some students come out and plant about 800 different plants and we are trying to reforest the area back to a more native Michigan forest. That is a long term project that the community is engaged in.”

In addition, the Evart Garden Club is work on establishing pollinator gardens and helping with native plantings.

The Evart Elementary School Garden Club, a newly established club, uses the site to learn about invasive plants and the school birding club take regular trips there to look for bird species.

“They have binoculars and bird identification books, and they learn how to identify the birds,” Anderson-Vincent said. “They walk over once a week and look for the birds in a natural setting.”

One of the members of the bird club, after seeing trash at the site, asked the school principal if she could get a team together to clean up trash in honor of Earth Day, she added.

“We are super excited and proud at Ice Mountain that the community has embraced this and utilized it the way we had hoped they would,” Anderson-Vincent said. “This is a great educational resource right here in Evart. It is a great opportunity for sustainability and conservation, which has been at the root of our company from day one. This is an example of how we invest in the rural areas we operate in.”

The site is available through partnerships with Ice Mountain, Anderson-Vincent said. It can be used for educational purposes, for meetings, and for conservation projects. 

To become an affiliate and use the site, email Arlene.anderson-vincent@waters.nestle.com.