Marsha Chartrand

DNR seeks public input on Watkins Lake State Park general management plan

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Watson Lake State Park is located between Manchester and Brooklyn. Legacy Land Consevancy volunteers, Penny and John Owen.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission are seeking public input on a new general management plan for Watkins Lake State Park and County Preserve in Jackson and Washtenaw counties. The DNR and county officials will host a public meeting Tuesday, Sept. 126 to 8 p.m. at the Super 8 Hotel banquet room, 419 S. Main St. in Brooklyn, Michigan.

The public also is invited to share their opinions and ideas for the park via an online survey available through Sept. 22. A link to the survey is available at www.michigan.gov/watkinslake.

The general management plan will be used to define a long-range planning and management strategy that protects the resources of the park, while addressing recreation and education needs and opportunities. Public and stakeholder input is a critical component of the planning process.

“Public input and feedback is a critical step in thoughtful long-range planning,” said DNR Parks and Recreation Chief Ron Olson. “Watkins Lake State Park and County Preserve’s location in southern Michigan expands public land access and outdoor recreation opportunities in this part of the state and helps to protect important natural and wildlife habitat.”

Watkins Lake State Park and County Preserve is jointly owned and managed by the DNR and the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission. It is the first state park in Michigan to be jointly managed with a county recreation agency. Designated as Michigan’s 103rd state park in August 2016, the park straddles the border of Washtenaw and Jackson counties, located between the cities of Ann Arbor and Jackson.

The 1,122-acre property is a popular watchable-wildlife destination and features beautiful rolling land covered in a mixture of open meadow, mixed hardwoods, low wetland areas, open water and the property’s most prominent natural feature, Watkins Lake. The park currently offers hiking, picnicking, fishing and bird-watching, with a small parking area provided off Arnold Road. The property also includes a 4.5-mile former rail corridor that traverses the property from east to west, linking state and county parcels. This corridor has the potential to be developed into a non-motorized, multiuse trail with the possibility of connecting the villages of Manchester and Brooklyn in the future.

The Sept. 12 meeting will begin with a brief presentation on the planning process and progress to date, followed by individual and group exercises to gather input to inform the plan.

Additional information on the DNR’s management plan process can be found at www.michigan.gov/parkmanagementplans.

For more information about the public meeting or the proposed plan, contact DNR park management plan administrator Debbie Jensen at 517-284-6105 (TTY/TDD711 Michigan Relay Center for the hearing impaired) or via email at jensenD1@michigan.gov. Anyone with disabilities who needs accommodations for the meeting should contact Jensen at least five business days before the meeting.

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