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SC Rotary, Friends of the SC River to stabilize, naturalize a section of the Pine River

The shoreline south of the public fishing pier in St. Clair on the Pine River will be stabilized and replanted with native vegetation and trees.

By Jim Bloch

Groups hoping Big Give gives them a boost

By fall, a section of the west bank of the Pine River in St. Clair, south of the public fishing pier, will likely be shored up and naturalized.

The St. Clair Rotary Club is helming the project, which involves rehabilitating 160 linear feet of shoreline. The club has partnered on the work with the city, St. Clair Garden Club and the St. Clair Art Association.

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The shoreline and vegetation has been damaged by the high waters in the Great Lakes and scoured by winter ice.

Friends of the St. Clair River designed the restoration work, a first for the nonprofit organization.

“One of our goals is to expand our services,” said Sheri Faust, president of the Friends. “Hopefully, this will be a model project for more work on the Pine River and in other urban settings.”

The rehabilitated section of shoreline will be known as Rotary Wildlife Landing. It will abut Rotary Park, the one-third acre of parkland on the north side of the Pine, which the club restored a number of years ago, adding sculptures, picnic tables, grills on pedestals and plantings bordering the boardwalk and seawall.

Among the goals new project is providing spawning habitat for fish.

“We’re really hoping to attract turtles as well as a variety macroinvertebrates,” said Kirsten Lyons, stewardship director of the Friends, who designed the project.

The Big Give

The groups have contracted with St. Clair Landscaping to stabilize the shoreline and plant the native vegetation. The price tag is $21,000.

“We’re hoping to get most of the funding tomorrow,” said Lyons.

The “tomorrow” Lyons referred to was Wednesday, June 9, the date of the Community Foundation of St. Clair County’s “Big Give,” a fundraising drive for as many as 75 nonprofits in the county.

Visit www.TheBigGiveSCC.com for details.

The great thing about the Big Give is that contributions to specific projects made by individuals on June 9 will be matched by businesses, said Dan Lockwood, a member of St. Clair Rotary. The amount of the match won’t be known until the event concludes. Lockwood is hoping for a 25 percent match.

After June 9, send a check in support of Rotary Wildlife Landing to the Rotary Club of St. Clair, P.O. Box 441, St. Clair, MI 48079.

The work

The project boundaries are the fishing pier to the north and Malane’s Marina to the south.

“The plan is to tear out the existing weedy vegetation,” said Lyons.

About six inches of the existing soil will be removed and amended soil installed.

“St. Clair Landscaping will put in six to eight-inch sugar stone boulders, which will help keep the ice from scouring out the shoreline,” said Lyons.

The deep-rooted native plantings will be geared to attract pollinators, help stabilize the shoreline and add a variety of colors and textures throughout the seasons.

“We want it to be attractive to boaters,” said Faust. “I’m a boater. We dock there and walk around the city. We’d like to add a nice backdrop. But we don’t want a lot of debris on the ground, seeds and flowers that could be tracked onto boats and stain the decking.”

Look for plants such as black-eyed Susans, asters, blue stem grasses and milkweed for the Monarch butterflies.

“We’ll also plant a couple of native shade trees,” said Lyons, who is a particular fan of autumn blaze maples, which she called “beautiful and tough.”

The group will transplant much of the vegetation from existing restoration projects such as the Blue Water River Walk in Port Huron. The rest will come from Wild Type Native Plant nursery in Mason.

A sandy beach has emerged thanks to a 14-inch decline in lake levels this year, something Lyons hopes will encourage visiting wildlife.

In an effort to guard against future rises in water levels, Lyons plans to plant up from the river’s edge.

The groups are hoping to install a bench or two and a public fire pit.

The immediate goal is to excavate this summer, installing the restored soil and stone work and to plant this fall.

Jim Bloch is a freelance writer based in St. Clair, Michigan. Contact him at bloch.jim@gmail.com. 

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