For the Jan. 28, 2011, Friday Edition Environment Report on Delta College Q-90.1 FM:
Bird watchers, start your engines.
A $2 million auto trail is due to open this spring at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge.
The trail is 7.5 miles long and takes motorists through the refuge, located in Saginaw County. Construction has been completed, and the route is due to open in May, according to Capitol News Service.
The trail, called Wildlife Drive, includes two observation decks with spotting scopes for viewing birds. There’s also an expanded parking area and new fishing and canoe access site.
Previously, motorists were only allowed to drive through the refuge for one day each year. The new trail will allow more people to view birds during the spring and summer. Officials say the speed limit is 15 mph and the gravel trail was designed not to disturb wildlife.
The project, funded by federal dollars, is part of a conservation plan for all national wildlife refuges in the U.S.
The trail is the second of its kind in Michigan. There’s another one at Seney National Wildlife Refuge, in the Upper Peninsula.
The Shiawassee refuge is home to almost 300 species of birds, including bald eagles and peregrine falcons.
There are three newly protected parcels in the Saginaw Bay area.
The Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy in Bay City has acquired three parcels — two in Pinconning Township and one in Standish Township.
The three parcels have been under a mitigation plan established in 2005, according to Conservancy officials.
The property was originally farm field, and is still being restored. The plans are to turn it into a forested wetland.
The 2005 mitigation plan required about 93 acres of wetlands to be created or restored. Those include forested wetlands and shrub wetlands.
The remaining 125 acres contain buffers in the form of wetlands, hedgerows, drainage ditches and other land devoted to wildlife habitat.
The three parcels were acquired as a result of a settlement between the federal government and Midland developer John Rapanos.
The Rapanos case stretches back to the late 1980s.
You can help Save Tobico Towers at an event on Saturday, Jan. 29.
A citizens group will be holding the event at 10 a.m. in the front of Bay Banquet Hall at 363 State Park Drive.
It’s a 5-k run and walk, with separate categories for people of all ages.
Registration begins at 9 a.m. The fee is $15, with proceeds going to the Save Tobico Towers effort.
The group is trying to raise $70,000 to restore two wooden observation towers in Tobico Marsh, part of the Bay City State Recreation Area in Bangor Township.
So far, the group has raised about $5,000, according to The Bay City Times.