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Flint Local NewsPierce Park Nature Preserve receives $815,700 federal grant from "Sustain Our Great...

Pierce Park Nature Preserve receives $815,700 federal grant from “Sustain Our Great Lakes” program

Flint, Michigan – A federal grant of $815,700 for work at Pierce Park Nature Preserve (PPNP) was recently awarded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation “Sustain Our Great Lakes” program.

Michigan State University joined forces with the charitable organization Pierce Park, classified under 501c3, for a project titled “Restoring Wetland and Terrestrial Habitat to Improve Green Spaces and Water Quality” located in Pierce Park, MI. Two experts from MSU’s Landscape Architecture department, Dr. Wonmin Sohn and Dr. Jun-Hyun Kim, managed to secure funding for this endeavor. This funding consists of $815,700 with an additional $324,000 coming from the charitable Pierce Park Nature Preserve.

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The total amount of money gathered from local and national sources for this project reaches $841,256. The entire project is valued at nearly $1.4 million and is scheduled to be carried out from September 1, 2023, to December 31, 2026. This initiative aims to develop 12 acres of wet meadow and oxbow wetlands, enhance seven culverts, establish a 6-acre buffer of reforested area, and restore 9 acres of prairie along a mile of Gilkey Creek in Flint’s park.

The project’s team consists of the company Natural Community Services, LLC, which is known for its work in reviving natural spaces on old golf courses. They’re getting help from Landscape Architects and Planners, LLC, and are working closely with government bodies to ensure the use of the best management practices. The Pierce Park Nature Preserve and Michigan State University will work together with local community members and the City of Flint to organize workshops and educational programs about the benefits of urban wetlands and how to restore them.

“Developing wetlands will help alleviate flooding issues in the neighborhood, and they will attract and support water birds, songbirds, and other wildlife. Additionally, we will plant more than 500 trees, and create pollinator meadows for Monarch Butterflies. That all adds more beauty to the park and makes it a great place to hike in the City of Flint,” Mike Keeler, President of PPNP said, as reported by Flint Beat.

A grant totaling $16,032 from the Neighborhoods Small Grants Fund and the Mary Elizabeth Adams Manley Beautification Fund, managed by the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, was used to put up barriers and a gate at the park. Habitat for Humanity and Flint BRAND contributed $9,524 towards fixing and setting up a metal roof for the pavilion and adding new signs. With the park becoming safer from crimes and damage, volunteers turned their attention to improving the environment.

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Thanks to the early backing from the Community Foundation, Habitat, and other local leaders, the Pierce Park Nature Preserve (PPNP) began to effectively gather more support and funds from state and national sources.

“Community Foundation and Habitat opened the door to being taken seriously by other agencies,” Keeler stated. “With the NFWF SOGL (National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Sustain Our Great Lakes) award, we can begin restoring a healthy ecosystem in the park.”

Local volunteers from the College Cultural Neighborhood teamed up with the City of Flint to form PPNP. They put together a 5-Year Strategic Plan for the ecological renewal of the former golf course, inspired by the broader Imagine Flint Master Plan for Flint Parks.

Beyond the financial support, volunteers are also dedicating thousands of hours, and donors are contributing goods and services to help restore Pierce Park’s natural beauty and health.

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The park, which spans 67 acres, boasts nearly two miles of nature trails alongside Gilkey Creek and Robinson Drain. It features a garden that attracts native pollinators, a pavilion that’s used for summer concerts, and areas where city dwellers can observe wildlife.