2018-05-16 / News

Take a hike at Flynn Nature Center

810-452-2684 • skovac@mihomepaper.com

The Flynn Township Nature Center is a great place to enjoy a walk or a bike ride through fields and woods. New signs like this one direct visitors over well-managed trails traversing a slice of Sanilac County’s rural landscape. The Flynn Township Nature Center is a great place to enjoy a walk or a bike ride through fields and woods. New signs like this one direct visitors over well-managed trails traversing a slice of Sanilac County’s rural landscape. FLYNN TWP. — Hikers and nature lovers in Sanilac County don’t have to travel far to indulge their recreational passions.

A great, but little known, nearby site for hiking and other outdoor activities is the Flynn Township Nature Center.

The nature center is about four miles west of the village of Peck on the north side of Peck Road between Baldwin Road and Bailey Road.

The facility offers 10 miles of hiking trails that wind their way through fields and woodlots that surround several large, interconnecting ponds which are spread over much of the sprawling 524-acre property.

The center is equipped with picnic tables, primitive restroom facilities, and has an access road leading to a parking area.

The facility is open to the public seven days a week. There is no admission charge.

Flynn Township Clerk Katherine Wilson, an enthusiastic booster of the nature center, is especially excited about the $500 grant for improved signage the township recently received.

“It came from the I-69 Thumb Region, a seven-county economic development partnership,” explained Wilson.

“The latest signage additions provide clear directions and feature details on distance traveled and calories burned. With the idea of promoting outdoor exercise and drawing more people into nature, new and retired township board members, neighbors, and friends worked together mapping and mowing the more than ten miles of trails,” she said.

To promote the facility, Wilson stated the township is inviting everyone to an “Open House” at the nature center from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 16.

“It’s a great place for people who love the outdoors and love to walk, jog, bicycle, canoe, kayak, bird watch, observe small animals in their natural habitats, fish for blue gill, and picnic,” said Wilson.

“There will be wagon ride tours, trail maps, and grilled hot dogs, chips, and water provided free by the township. At the cookout, most of the residents of the township who attend will be bringing a dish to pass.

“Our Open House is a time for the public to get a feel for the nature center by taking the tour and asking questions of the retired board members who played a huge part in bringing it into existence,” she said.

It is the tenth time Flynn Township has hosted this annual event.

According to a history of the nature center compiled by former Flynn Township clerk and current District 4 County Commissioner Bob Conely, during the 1950s the site was comprised of farms, some of which produced vegetables.

In the 1960s and 70s, the grounds became a sod farm.

In 1976, the property was acquired by lawn care giant Scotts Corporation, which mined the facility for peat through its subsidiary Hyponex Corporation.

The strip mining operation ceased in 1999 and the property was unused until Flynn Township purchased it for $1.4 million dollars in January 2009, after obtaining a grant from the state.

The township applied for the grant in 2006, and successfully procured the money from the Michigan Natural Resource Trust Fund for more than half the purchase price, with Hyponex donating the balance. Therefore, the acquisition was possible at no cost to local taxpayers.

Conely told the News, “We as a board saw this as a chance to give recreational opportunities to our residents without spending a lot of money. We worked hard for three years to secure the grant in order to buy the property. We’ve gotten several more grants since for improvements. The township is making progress and intends to stick with it.”

Regarding future plans, Wilson said that eagles have been spotted on the grounds, so an area for them to nest is in the works.

She also said that an effort is underway to reintroduce pheasants to the land.

“In addition, we want to start a procedure by which individuals can plant a tree on the premises in memory or in honor of someone. We also see the potential for educational use by area schools. There’s a building on the property which some day may be used for exhibits,” said Wilson.

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