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Expansion may be in TC State Park's future


12/12/08 By SHERI McWHIRTER [email protected]

TRAVERSE CITY -- Traverse City State Park may expand by more than half its current size next year and could feature more campsites and hiking trails.
State officials want to buy a nearly 29-acre tract adjacent to the popular state park and this month received a grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to pay for it. The project was awarded a $1 million grant to expand the 45-acre park with land to the south, where Mitchell Creek flows.

"Traverse City State Park is an urban campground, meaning we're closer to the community," said Tim Schreiner, park supervisor.

The park along Munson Avenue in Grand Traverse County's East Bay Township has a great beach and 343-site campground, but little else for visitors to do, he said.

"We're finally getting some natural areas," Schreiner said.

Some existing trails are on the would-be park property, much of which is wetlands around the creek. Those trails could be enhanced with interpretive signs or kiosks and guided hikes could become part of the offerings for park visitors, Schreiner said.

Area homeless have long used the site, so the area must be cleaned of debris such as old clothing, sleeping bags, aluminum cans and other litter, before proceeding with park upgrades, he said.

Fishing activity could increase at the park, as anglers will have access to upstream areas on Mitchell Creek, with its resident brook and brown trout population and its critical role in the reproduction of wild salmon, said Mary Dettloff, spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

"This is a good, solid pick-up for this park. It's one of the most popular state parks in the state, often among the top five in terms of visitors," Dettloff said.

Some type of pedestrian crossing will be developed to allow park visitors to safely cross the railroad tracks that run behind the state park and access the expanded park area and nature preserve, Dettloff said.

State officials may buy the land from current owners Arnold and Kathryn Bohn, of Traverse City, if the governor and the state Legislature sign off on the budgeted trust fund dollars next year, she said.

The Bohn family previously sold land to the state for the park and would like to see this additional tract go there, as well, said Kathryn Bohn.

"There are a lot of trees and deer back there, just a lot of wildlife. It's a nice piece of property," she said.

The proposed land acquisition could allow for additional campsites and day use areas, Dettloff said, plus it would connect the state park to the TART trail system and the 83-acre Reffitt Nature Preserve owned by the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy.

"If the deal comes together between the state and the Bohn family, it will be great," said Matt McDonough, of the conservancy.
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