Mud Lake Bog is a unique 250-acre collection of natural communities in southeast MI that is owned and managed by the University of Michigan (U-M). To the south of U-M’s property is Independence Lake County Park (ILCP), a 312-acre multi-use facility with dry-mesic forests, remnant prairies, Independence Lake, and various other outdoor recreational opportunities and facilities.
Together, this contiguous 562-acre pocket of green space has the potential to serve a large number of urban, suburban, and rural residents in the densely-populated Metro Detroit area, address water quality on a regional scale, and help build a much larger matrix of ecologically-significant green space across an otherwise heavily fragmented landscape.
The [MUD LAKE BOG MANAGEMENT, ACCESS, AND EDUCATION PLAN] was developed to offer the U-M and ILCP entities with management strategies and designs that will restore and rejuvenate both the health and appreciation of this Michigan landscape. The entire report includes written and graphic site analysis of existing conditions (with associated GIS maps), identifies issues and opportunity areas, and offers recommendations for increasing ecosystem health and public access to the unique natural communities in ways that are minimally impactful.
Check out the highlights below…
Main Objectives of the Plan:
+ Increase health and stability of Michigan’s native natural communities
+ Address potential water quality threats
+ Increase visitor’s appreciation for and understanding of Michigan landscapes
+ Create controlled access to significant natural communities (such as the bog), both for visitors and land managers
+ Increase community engagement with and understanding of the various landscapes through carefully designed recreational and educational opportunities
+ Design and develop using low-impact, ecologically sensitive techniques and materials
+ Strengthen partnership and land managerial relationship between University of Michigan and Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission
A boardwalk allows visitors access to the hardwood swamp, shrub swamp, and the emergent wetland/bog. There are several opportunities throughout this journey for visitors to “pull off” at small overlooks (where the boardwalk flares out wider by several feet) in order to catch their breath and take in the jaw-dropping scenery.
Located in the midst of the bog, this area simulates the mound and sink microclimates that are created within bogs from the accumulation of sphagnum moss and peat in a way that will be both educational and fun for visitors!
Mounds of various size (made from rubber with different softness and bouncing capacity), are placed in a teardrop shape around a sunken-down depression, or “hollow,” made of similar rubber. These rubber mounds allow visitors to feel like they are playing on top of the real floating bog mat!
Boardwalks are graded to funnel water into the teardrop “hollow” in the middle, which will be designed to act as a filtration system for the runoff from impervious surfaces, before it enters the bog.
Prairie Root Run
The bog boardwalk leads visitors to a unique pocket prairie, where a maze-like trail network cuts into the sides of large mounds of earth.
These mounds bring the complex inner-workings of the underground prairie to the visitors’ eye-level.
The cut faces of the maze walls are lined with prairie art and interpretive signage that illustrate the complexities of root networks, the importance of insects and animals, and the general functionality and importance of such a natural community. Small holes and tunnels allow children and other visitors to crouch down and crawl through passageways and shortcuts to other portions of the “maze.”
Within many of the mazes’ nooks, benches made of compacted earthen concrete provide spaces for seating, picnicking, and teaching.
Dry-Mesic Forest Boardwalk
A boardwalk creates an accessible way for visitors to experience the dry-mesic forest, and link up with several small educational “seasonal centers” along the way, which teach about different important aspects of forest ecosystems.
Educational “Seasonal Center” Example
This center is located on the edge of the dry-mesic forest, overlooking the more open swampland and bog communities, providing breath-taking vistas of the more open area. Comprised of a life-size tree form constructed completely out of reflective silver metal to reflect the beauty of the bare tree form,
The bottom viewing platform is located at grade with the forest boardwalk, making it accessible to all. Small stairs, as well as a hollowed out trunk with a climbing ladder inside, will provide access to the other two viewing platforms.
Site Analysis Snapshots:
Examples of Areas of Concern and Opportunity:
Check out the complete [MANAGEMENT, ACCESS, AND EDUCATION PLAN FOR MUD LAKE BOG] in flashy booklet form!