Belle Isle begins transition toward state park

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 9, 2013 at 5:39 pm •  Published: December 9, 2013

DETROIT (AP) — About three-dozen groups are committing time, talent and in some cases money to improving Belle Isle as the park transitions over the next two months from city to state control.

The state Department of Natural Resources begins managing the 985-acre island park in the middle of the Detroit River in mid-February under a 30-year lease.

On Tuesday, agency Director Keith Creagh will introduce partnerships in revamping the park, which has seen a cutback in city repairs and maintenance as Detroit succumbed to debt and budget deficits. A federal judge last week allowed Detroit to become the largest U.S. city to enter bankruptcy.

The state budget sets aside $2.5 million for management of Belle Isle, but Creagh is looking for help from all quarters, whether through funding or sweat.

"It's absolutely about the partners," he said. "When people heard we were involved, they said, how could they be helpful?"

The Great Lakes Fisheries Trust is chipping in a $200,000 grant to improve fishing piers on the island. Ducks Unlimited will look at some of the water issues. The regional office of the National Park Service will lend its expertise.

Mid-Michigan Recycling has donated the use of a horizontal wood grinder.

Fisheries and wildlife biologists from Creagh's department will look at improving animal habitats. The parks division will repair picnic tables.

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