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Madison Heights

Help needed to clean up Red Oaks Nature Center

Event to spruce up park after long winter

April 23, 2014

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Madison Heights City Councilman Brian Hartwell was among the volunteers who came to the nature center to help tidy up during Oakland County Commissioner Gary McGillivray’s annual clean-up event in 2012. This year’s event is slated for April 27.

MADISON HEIGHTS — Around this time last year, more than 130 volunteers came to the Red Oaks Nature Center at Suarez Friendship Woods to clear debris, battle invasive species, and create a path between the park and nearby St. Patrick’s Church, giving visitors another way into the woods.

“We got a lot done, and that was despite the rain,” said Oakland County Commissioner Gary McGillivray, of Madison Heights, who helped organize the event. “It turned out very well. I was very pleased.”

This year, they’re at it again, for the fourth straight year. All are invited to come to the Red Oaks Nature Center, 30300 Hales in Madison Heights, bringing rakes and gloves, and a good attitude, as everyone works together to straighten out the place Sunday, April 27.

This year’s event is expected to run from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Lunch, drinks and snacks will be provided.

Piles of snow this winter flattened many leaves and branches that weren’t cleared out before the polar vortex hit. All kinds of debris accumulated along the sides of the nature center and the fence-line surrounding the park. And the flowerbeds have excess brush that needs to be removed before mulch can be spread.

Everyone will also be asked to pull out the garlic mustard weed wherever they see it. The invasive species threatens to upset the ecosystem at Suarez Friendship Woods and must be controlled in what will be an ongoing process.

One special project this year will be near the vernal pond, the low-lying area that fills with water during the springtime. A wooden walkway there has been plastered with vandalism over the years, and now volunteers are going to replace the boards.

McGillivray attends meetings at a group called the Greater Detroit Building Trades — an association of carpenters, electricians, bricklayers and more — and he enlisted their help to get the wooden walkway fixed.

This is just the start of spring-cleaning efforts that will extend into other parks. McGillivray is working with Madison Heights Mayor Pro Tem Brian Hartwell to organize a cleanup at Civic Center Park from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. May 18.

“I understand there may be some painting involved,” McGillivray said, noting that the city will come up with a list of projects people can tackle during the event. “My goal and Brian’s goal is to spruce the park — maybe some paint here and there on the pavilion, maybe working on the volleyball courts and the park’s shelter building, or picking up all of the litter, and planting flowers — things like that.” 

As for the people going to the Red Oaks Nature Center April 27, they’ll have their work cut out for them, according to Matt Pardy, parks supervisor for Oakland County Parks and Recreation.

“There is just so much stuff that falls down and accumulates,” Pardy said. “It will take a bit of work to get it all done.”

About the author

Staff Writer Andy Kozlowski covers Madison Heights, Hazel Park, Madison District Public Schools, Lamphere Public Schools and Hazel Park Public Schools for the Madison-Park News.

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