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Orchard Lake Boat Launch Construction: Too Much, Too Soon?

City officials to meet with state Department of Natural Resources this week to voice concerns of bad timing and excess woodland management.

As the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) public launch site on Orchard Lake undergoes construction, city officials are questioning the timing of closing it so soon after Labor Day.

said not only that, but there are also concerns of excess woodland management — the amount of trees being cut down — which necessitate a meeting between the groups this week.

"We're very upset over this. (The DNR) has put people in a bind," McIntyre said. "It's too late to save the forest, but it's important that they know how we feel."  

The Department of Natural Resources announced Aug. 27 that the site will close temporarily on Sept. 4 and remain closed until mid-October in order to reconstruct the site.

The initial issue stemmed from the timing of the closure, which McIntyre said puts riparian homeowners in a pinch for time. Due in part to the Labor Day holiday, McIntyre said, boaters would likely find difficulty in removing their equipment from the site.

Jodi Nieschulz, a supervisor at Dodge #4 State Park, said, "While the site will be closed during construction, every attempt will be made to keep it open on the weekends when feasible."

McIntyre said he would like the DNR to delay the project through September in order to allow boaters to take advantage of weekday weather on the lake and make a smoother transition to the fall season.

"Most people have decided to leave their boats there," McIntyre said. "We had vague details before and now, it's a mess. Nobody can get in there since it started." 

The construction project includes redesigning the launch area for increased maneuverability, paving the driveways and parking lot, increasing accessibility and adding landscaping, according to a release issued by the DNR. The landscaping will consist of native species and an eco-friendly rain garden that will absorb run-off before it reaches the lake. Bio-logs will help ensure shoreline stabilization.

Another point of contention for Orchard Lake residents is the removal of trees, McIntyre said, which began in earnest Monday. McIntyre said that he did not realize how many trees would be removed from the site, until workers on Tuesday began cutting them down and removing asphalt.

This project is funded through the Michigan State Waterways Fund, a restricted fund derived from the collection of boat registration fees, a portion of the Michigan marine fuel tax and user fees, according to the DNR. Waterways funding is dedicated to the acquisition, construction, operation and maintenance of recreational boating facilities.

The meeting, which McIntyre said was orchestrated by State Rep. Chuck Moss (R-Orchard Lake) will be held at 1 p.m. Friday.

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