The Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority (HCMA) has been recommended to receive $94,000 from the state’s Natural Resources Trust Fund (NRTF) to help pay for improvements at Kensington Metropark in Milford Township.
On Wednesday, Dec. 7, the NRTF Board of Trustees recommended to the state Legislature that 99 recreation development projects and land acquisitions totaling nearly $39.7 million be funded in 2012.
The board this year had considered 145 applications for development and acquisition projects totaling roughly $63.75 million, which were competitively evaluated based on scoring criteria developed by the NRTF board.
The NRTF is a restricted fund that was established in 1976 to provide a source of funding for public acquisition of lands for resource protection and outdoor recreation. The funding is derived from royalties on the sale and lease of state-owned mineral rights.
According to Jim Knopp, the supervising park planner with the HCMA, many of the planned improvements involve Kensington’s Nature Center Overlook.
“We’re looking to enhance the pond overlook with a large viewing and seating area so that group activities can take place at that location,” he said. “We’re going to add some viewing scopes and interpretive educational signage.”
Knopp explained that the park’s nature interpreters use Kensington’s ponds for taking samples of the native water bugs and other aquatic species that are inhabitants.
Another part of the project will be adding benches for more seating — at least enough for 30 people.
“This way the interpreter can talk about things in the pond or about the birds flying by as people sit around him,” Knopp said.
Each year, Kensington educates thousands of students as schools bring in classes to visit and learn. Knopp said 229 school groups visited the Kensington nature center this year. Of the metropark’s 288,900 visitors, over 48,500 of them were students.
Other improvements include replacing a seawall and railings, in addition to revamping some paths and walkways.
The improvements are expected to cost $135,000. Knopp said the HCMA is matching the additional funds needed for the project.
“This is something we’ve had in our five-year plan, but we had to cut back on it with the loss of tax revenue seen in the last three years,” Knopp said. “The grant money will fill in for that loss. It’s going to be a nice place to sit, relax, and enjoy the King Fisher Lagoon.”