A new nature area opens this week in Midland

Starting this week, Midland residents and visitors from far and wide will be able to take a unique adventure within the county.  Marcie Post, assistant director of public services for the City of Midland, calls it “a little known treasure.”
The nature area is located adjacent to Stratford Woods Park on E. Ashman Street in Midland.
On Tuesday, July 19,  City of Midland and Dow officials will hold a grand opening for the Eagle Ridge Nature Area in Stratford Woods Park. The event will feature speakers from the local area and state officials.  The ceremony will begin at 4pm. The park is located at 3922 E. Ashman Street.  

Eagle Ridge Nature Area is a 140-acre wooded land parcel located next to Stratford Woods Park. The grand opening celebration will feature a formal ribbon cutting ceremony with remarks from local, state, and federal officials and concluded with a chance for attendees to stroll the trails and experience the area for themselves.

“It’s just really beautiful and its features are unlike anything else,” says Post. “There’s a wetland area with a boardwalk, so visitors are actually able to walk among that. There’s a forest piece that’s really beautiful. We want people to absolutely enjoy this.”

There are 5.2 miles of walking trails within Eagle Ridge.
The grounds feature a forest, sandy ridges, and natural wetlands and offers nature trails with rest benches, a boardwalk with wetlands access and viewing areas, a pollinator-friendly area, and educational signage highlighting the unique topographical features of the property. Eagle Ridge Nature Area connects to the public parking areas at Stratford Woods Park for easy access.

Post says walking groups and bird watchers will absolutely love the area. Once the information was shared with the public, Post says the news was met with a lot of excitement. She added that “parking is easy, accessible and it’s something new to try.”
"We want people to absolutely enjoy this."
The project was developed by Dow as a component of its natural resources damage restoration efforts and will be transferred to the City of Midland for future oversight and preservation. For the next five years, Dow will manage and maintain the property, says Karen Murphy, Director of Public Services for the City of Midland. Murphy, who worked closely for years with Dow on the project, says because of the land’s natural resources of wetlands and low lands, the large area needs to be tended to regularly.  “There has been a tremendous amount of time and energy put into this by Dow, the State of Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department and the
Chippewa Nature Center. They’ve all been great community partners and to work with. A lot of thought went into this, to make sure the land is protected from erosion. We can’t wait for people to come and explore.”

Murphy says the location and topography should draw many people from local neighborhoods to walk the trails and “be in nature.” She adds that being in the new park reminds her of being in a forest area or campgrounds similar to those found in areas like Ludington with its carved out sand ridge and fabulous views and ecosystems.

“The location and views will draw a lot of people,” she adds. “There’s 5.2 miles of walking trails, and benches so thoughtfully placed with beautiful signage.” Murphy stresses that the park is for walkers, hikers only and to leave the bikes and horses at home. She says that parking is made easy and recommends downloading a map before taking to the trails. Visitors can also find a lookout point near the park’s entrance for those with mobility issues.
There are signs and guide panels scattered throughout Eagle Ridge.
According to fws.gov, on July 27, 2020, a settlement with the Dow Chemical Company to address federal, state, and tribal claims for natural resource damages in the Tittabawassee River System was finalized. The settlement is for an estimated $77 million in projects and funding that will restore fish, wildlife, and habitats injured following releases of hazardous substances in past decades from Dow’s manufacturing facility in Midland.

Under the settlement, Dow will implement or fund a number of restoration projects identified in Midland, Bay, Saginaw, and nearby counties.  The natural resource Trustees evaluated a range of restoration actions and alternatives which would provide benefits to natural resources to compensate the public for losses to natural resources injured by releases from Dow's Midland plant and published the Final Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment for the Tittabawassee River System.


Read more articles by Erika M. Hirschman.

A veteran freelance writer and former reporter with The Midland Daily News, Erika has covered a wide array of topics in and around Midland and Saginaw counties. She’s an award winning reporter, and holds a journalism degree from the University of Detroit-Mercy/Marygrove College. When Erika is not writing, she enjoys dancing in her kitchen with her two dogs and family. She loves to read, cook, travel and go to concerts. She’s lived in Saginaw County for 26 years.