Park Director's Blog

10

Here fishy fishy
By Amy McMillan

This weekend is Michigan’s Free Fishing Weekend for the summer.  That means you don’t have to have a fishing license to bait a hook, drop a line and test your skills by reeling in your next fish story.  The Genesee County Parks has countless fishing holes, picturesque shore lines and five public boat launches with several other canoe launches, so you’re sure to find a great spot to enjoy this weekend.

Looking for ideas?  Consider putting your boat in at Walleye Pike Boat launch or staking a piece of shore on Holloway Reservoir.  The Thursday before Memorial Day, DNR Fisheries completed the summer fisheries survey of Holloway Reservoir.  They captured 1,217 fish with the following distribution.

§  342 channel catfish averaging 16.8 inches

§  226 smallmouth bass averaging 11.2 inches (25 were > 14 inches)

§  113 black crappie averaging 10.1 inches

§  53 walleye averaging 12.4 inches (9 were > 15 inches a 3 fish at 26 inches)

§  44 bluegill averaging 7.9 inches

DNR Fisheries will return to Holloway Reservoir in August to conduct habitat sampling which includes oxygen and temperature profiles of the lake, water samples for measurements of productivity. 

They return again in late September for annual electrofishing for juvenile walleye.

Their quick summary was that “Holloway Reservoir continues to produce an excellent recreational fishery.  Channel catfish remain abundant.  Some excellent black crappie and smallmouth bass.  Walleye continue to be an important component of the fishery and there are some big ones out there.  Bluegill are not overly abundant but if you get into them, they are of excellent size”. 

We also have several fishing programs taking place this weekend.  Take the kids out to Buell Lake on Saturday for the Kids Fishing Club from 9-11am.  Then bring the whole family back on Sunday for Hooked on Fishing and learn the fishing basics.  Then of course you can enter the Catfish for a Cause Fishing Tournament on Sunday, June 12, starting at 6am.  This is the first year we will be holding this FREE tournament on Mott Lake, and all ages and abilities are welcome to compete for prizes and bragging rights.

Whatever you choose to do this weekend, please familiarize yourself with the DNR size regulations and limits for each species, because all Michigan DNR rules and regulations still apply.  Pack a lunch, grab your pole and get away right away to a fishing hole near you! 

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27

Make This Your Family's Best Summer Ever!
By Amy McMillan

Memorial Day weekend is the official start of summer in the Genesee County Parks! Come explore 11,000 acres of spectacular terrain and enjoy months of warm-weather activities for all ages and abilities that will peak your curiosity, inspire your creativity, and support healthy living!

It’s easy to get in shape and stay that way with miles of walking and biking trails, state-of-the-art playground equipment, launches for boats and kayaks, an 18-basket disc golf course, and clean swimming beaches. And they’re all an easy drive from anyplace in Genesee County

The sun is strongest in June, so slather on the sunscreen and head to Clover Beach on Byram Lake in Linden County Park, Buttercup Beach on Holloway Reservoir or to Bluebell Beach on Mott Lake where children under the age of 12 can play on the fully accessible splash pad! If camping is your choice for family fun, reserve some getaway-time at Wolverine Campground. Campsites are tucked in the cool shade of a pine forest along the north shore of the Holloway Reservoir, just a quick stroll from Buttercup Beach and a boat launch

Summertime and picnics go hand-in-hand, and you’ll find picnic tables and grills in some of the most picturesque areas in the Parks. For large gatherings and protection from the weather, consider renting one of the new or historic park pavilions.This summer, we’re offering more than 1,000 programs in the Parks so you can learn about everything from frogs and turtles to growing your own food and fun exercise classes in the great outdoors. What’s even better is that 85% of them are FREE to attend! Musical events and live theater, guided walks and hands-on projects will connect you to nature in meaningful ways and help make this your family’s best summer ever.

 

Our Family Fun Guide is your passport to adventure. It has descriptions of ALL our activities, and you can download it right here. You can also pick up a copy at For-Mar Nature Preserve and Arboretum, Crossroads Village, Wolverine Campground, our boat launches or the Genesee County Parks offices at 5045 Stanley Road in Flint

This summer, turn off the electronics, gather up your family, and get away right away to fresh air and fun in your 21 Genesee County Parks!  

 

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15

Signs of Spring
By Amy McMillan

If the return of robins is the first true sign of Spring in Michigan, the return of potholes may be the second. Just like streets, roads, and parking lots everywhere in our fair state, potholes and puddles are “springing” up on Genesee County Parks’ gravel roads and in parking lots throughout our entire 11,000 acres.  These conditions make for a wet, bumpy, muddy, ride through your favorite Genesee County Parks.

Our skilled, hardworking mechanic team has our grading equipment tuned and ready to hit our park roads beginning April 15. All we need is a little cooperation from Mother Nature, which means reasonably dry roads and a dry forecast for 4 or 5 days to allow the freshly-graded surfaces to become hard packed so they can shed water instead of becoming an even muddier mess.

We appreciate your patience.  And, if you have an extra minute or two to think sunny, warm thoughts, we’d appreciate that, too. 

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8

New Study Proves Being Active Outdoors is Good for Your Physical and Mental Health
By Amy McMillan

 Even though there’s still white snow on the ground in April, I know that Spring is on its way.  That means warmer weather is right around the corner and time again for some of my favorite activities.

Being outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine, listening to the birds and frogs, smelling freshly mowed grass, walking under the trees along Mott Lake, or paddling my kayak on the Flint river is my go-to cure for pretty much whatever everyday life trials and tribulations are making my head hurt.  It’s not so much that being outside makes problems disappear; it just clears my head and makes it easier to cope.  This, in turn, makes me a lot more fun to be around!  

Spending time in nature is the opposite of a vicious cycle; being in nature is a virtuous cycle.  And you don’t have to just take my word for it.  A new study proves it.  Being in nature actually changes our brains and makes us happier.  That means being active in nature is good for both your physical and mental health.  And, in Genesee County, we are lucky to have 11,000 acres of happiness in the form of your Genesee County Parks -- phenomenal natural resources right outside your door! 

Get away, right away to your Genesee County Parks.  Your brain will be glad you did.

 

Amy M. McMillan, Director

Genesee County Parks & Recreation Commission

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10

Planning and Support for a Successful Trail System
By Amy McMillan

                                                                                                                                                           

In a 2014 survey, Genesee County residents rated trails for walking, running, and biking as their top priority for improvements to Genesee County Parks.  

A great trail system takes a lot of planning and it takes a big, whopping load of money.  Lucky for us, the Genesee County Metropolitan Planning Commission has stepped up to the plate to develop a comprehensive non-motorized trail plan.  With a great plan in place, and a couple of successful new trail projects  under our belts  we’ve set our sights on securing grants to help get the rest of those trails built. 

At the end of this month, Genesee County Parks will submit a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant application to the Department of Natural Resources requesting $300,000 to match over $420,000 in local Transportation Assistance Program grants to build a 3.1 mile section of trail that begins at our office and runs near the river and through the woods of the Genesee Recreation Area to Irish Road, the entrance to Richfield County Park, the Irish Road Fishing Site and Goldenrod Disc Golf Course.  To the west, the trail will connect to the Bluegill Bike Path, which in turn connects to the Stepping Stone Falls Trail, the Bluebell Beach Trail, and the Flint River Trail.

Showing public support is one of the really important parts of any successful grant request, which is where you can be a big, huge help.  And, by public support, we mean letters.  Lots and lots of letters advocating for the approval of the grant request that we can include with our grant application.

We know that the hardest part of writing a letter of support is getting started. Just click here to view an example of a support letter and feel free use any or all of it to help get you started. Or, write your own personalized letter of support, and return the letter to me at the address below, drop it off at our office, fax it or email it to me by March 28, 2016 and I will include your support letter in our grant application.  WIth your support we can make this trail a reality!  

 

 

Amy M. McMillan, Director

Genesee County Parks and Recreation Commission 

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17


By Amy McMillan

 

It’s hard to imagine that anyone with access to a television, radio, newspaper, or the internet has not heard about the Flint Water Crisis.  The presence of lead in the City’s drinking water supply has resulted in calls and emails from our visitors seeking more information regarding the source of drinking water in the Genesee County Parks, particularly those parks with a Flint mailing address, which includes many of our facilities in the Genesee Recreation Area.

No Genesee County Park or facility draws, or has drawn, its water from the City of Flint’s drinking water system. 

Many of our parks, such as Crossroads Village and Huckleberry Railroad and Bluegill Boat Launch draw their water from on-site wells.  Other parks, such as Bluebell Beach, draw their water from Genesee County’s water system. 

We at the Genesee County Parks are appalled by the condition of the City of Flint’s drinking water.  We are outraged that the state and federal agencies charged with protecting our citizens and our drinking water failed so completely in their responsibilities.

We, especially those of us who live in the City of Flint, are also beyond grateful for the amazing support Flint’s residents have received from people and organizations here and around the country, most especially from the local philanthropic community, organized labor, the faith community, and endless numbers of volunteers who are giving so generously of their time and resources to deliver bottled water and test kits and to install fixtures and filters.

If you have questions about the source(s) of drinking water in the Genesee County Parks, please call us at 810-736-7100 or email us at ParksWebTeam@geneseecountyparks.org

Lead contamination in the City of Flint’s drinking water supply also has many questioning the quality and health of the Flint River, on which so many of us float, paddle, and fish.  Our long-time partners at the Flint River Watershed Coalition have monitored the Flint River for well over a decade.  For more information on Flint River testing in light of Flint’s drinking water crisis, please visit http://flintriver.org/blog/

Amy M. McMillan, Director                                   

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5

Team Winter? Genesee County Parks Has Got You Covered.
By Amy McMillan

February has an odd place in the psyche of those of us who live in the Snowbelt.  For people who look forward all fall to winter, February is usually the last month that they can truly count on to provide them with snow for skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, sledding, snow angel-making and ice for ice fishing; February is truly the shortest month of the year.  For people who look forward all winter to nothing but summer, February is a long slog of ice, snow, cold, and slush.  It doesn’t matter if it’s 28 or 29 days, February is the longest shortest month of the year.

Now, I am not a fan of cold weather in any shape or form, but I am a cup is half full kind of girl, so, in my mind, February is “The Gateway to Spring”. All I have to do is stick Winter out until March.  No matter what Punxsutawney Phil says.

No matter which camp you fall in to, February is a great month in the Genesee County Parks.  Snowmobiling, sledding, snowshoeing, cross country skiing?  We’ve got it. Ice fishing?  We’ve got that, too.  So done with winter?  Set For-Mar Nature Preserve and Arboretum as the destination on your GPS and enjoy these great programs in the great indoors.

Whether you are on Team Winter or on Team Any Season That Is Not Winter, the Genesee County Parks has got you covered.  

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