St. Clair and Macomb counties announce new details for coastal birding trail

This article is part of Inside Our Outdoors, a series about Southeast Michigan's connected parks, greenways, and trails and how they affect residents' quality of life. It is made possible with funding from the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance.

Macomb and St. Clair counties are making progress with their plans to create a joint coastal birding trail. Partners with the effort have now selected a name and logo for the project and determined trail locations. 

It will now be known as the St. Clair-Macomb Birding Trail and materials associated with the project will feature the tagline "In the heart of the Great Lakes." 

While the project may sound like a physical trail, it's actually more of a curated collection of different birdwatching sites. The two counties have been working to identify prime areas where birds can be observed, which they plan to promote with signage, brochures, and a website.

Macomb and St. Clair counties are considered excellent places to watch birds because they're positioned on the Lake St. Clair coastline between two of the largest flyways in North America.

"It's an exciting project," says Amanda Oparka, a senior planner with Macomb County. "There have been small groups of people coming to our counties for years to do birdwatching. We're eager to expand that number." 

Along with the new name and logo, around 30 locations have also been chosen to be featured on the trail, including the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House in Grosse PointeBirding trail logo Shores, the Harley Ensign Memorial Boating Access Site in Harrison Township, Dodge Park in Sterling Heights, Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center in Shelby Township, Wolcott Mill Metropark in Ray Township, Algonac State Park in Clay Township, Pine River Nature Center in Goodells, Blue Water River Walk in Port Huron, and Fort Gratiot Nature Preserve in Fort Gratiot.

Beyond that, Lake St. Clair Metropark in Macomb County and Harsens Island Nature Park in St. Clair County have been selected as sites where special observation platforms will be built to highlight the trail. 

The two counties began collaborating on the trail in 2019. Last year the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy awarded them a $13,200 Coastal Management Program grant to establish and promote a birding trail on the coast of southern Lake Huron, Lake St. Clair, and the St. Clair River. Huron-Clinton Metroparks and several regional Audubon Society groups have also been partnering with the counties to develop the trail.

A Macomb County launch party for the St. Clair-Macomb Birding Trail was held at Lake St. Clair Metropark on Saturday, Oct. 23. St. Clair County expects to host a similar launch party in Port Huron mid-February, which will be connected to the annual Bird Blast festival there. 

Work on the birding trail website and brochures for the trail is ongoing, though more information about them is expected to be made public in early 2021. An online map of the trail sites can be viewed here

For more on birding in St. Clair County, check out this video: 
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