Clam Lake anchors the western edge of the Lost Lake Nature Park expansion, one of three lakes that will have increased access from the acquisition.

Clam Lake anchors the western edge of the Lost Lake Nature Park expansion, one of three lakes that will have increased access from the acquisition.

Photo provided by Oakland Township


Oakland Township secures funding to expand Lost Lake Nature Park

New property will preserve land, help expand township’s park programming

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published April 7, 2021

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OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — Oakland Township is one step closer to acquiring a 235-acre addition to its Lost Lake Nature Park.

On Dec. 2, the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund recommended allocating over $3 million to the township to help fund its purchase of the property on Lake George Road.

“We still have to go through a lot of other approvals — because these grants are attached to the state’s budget, which isn’t approved until later in the year — but at this point, we are recommended to receive a grant,” said Melinda Milos-Dale, the director of the township’s Parks and Recreation Department.

The nearly $3.1 million grant, which will cover 75% of the purchase price of the 235-acre addition, will be combined with around $1 million in matching funds from the township’s land preservation millage.

The township has had its eye on the property for years, according to Milos-Dale, who said the Parks Commission tried to acquire the property more than 25 years ago, but was unsuccessful due to a lack of funding.

“We always wanted to expand the educational opportunities at the park, because we knew right next door that there were other types of habitats that we’d love to include in our nature programming. So we had been in contact with the people that own that property for a number of years, and nothing ever worked out. But we kept in contact with them, because we always had that hope that someday we’d be able to add on to our existing park,” she explained.

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant will be included in a bill that is expected to go to the Legislature for approval sometime this spring. Once approved, the township will be able to sign a grant agreement with the state and proceed toward purchasing the property sometime in the 2021-22 fiscal year from the Six Rivers Land Conservancy — which acquired the property and is holding it for the township until it receives the grant.

“As far as the actual acquisition of the land, it’s really dependent upon when the Michigan Legislature appropriates the money for these grants,” Milos-Dale said. “After that happens, we have a number of steps we have to go through with the state before Oakland Township can purchase the property, which would likely occur this summer or fall. Once Oakland Township purchases it, the state gives us 90 days to get ready to open the park to the public.”

Ben VanderWeide, the township’s natural areas stewardship manager, said the 235-acre expansion property protects ecological links to the existing Lost Lake Nature Park, Addison Oaks Park and the Bald Mountain State Recreation Area. It protects the west branch of Stony Creek and Clam Lake; it contains important wetlands, like bogs and fens; and it includes fields with remnant native vegetation.

“We are really excited about this property,” he said. “It offers access to over half a mile of the west branch of Stoney Creek and increases access to three lakes — Clam Lake, Tamarack Lake and Green Lake, up in the northern part of the township.”

VanderWeide said the property includes some “really unique habitats” — including submergent marsh, southern shrub-carr, rich tamarack swamp, black spruce bog, southern wet meadow, southern shrub-carr and mature oak forest, to name a few.

“It actually includes a 7- to 10-acre wetland called a prairie fen that’s a mineral-rich, springwater-fed wetland that supports a lot of rare, unique plants and is actually a priority for the Michigan Wildlife Action Plan, because there are so many species of plants and animals that live in these special fen wetlands,” VanderWeide explained.

The new property will provide over 4 miles of internal trails — including connections to the Lost Lake Nature Center and Oakview Middle School in Lake Orion — and increased access to hiking, wildlife observation, hunting and nature programs.

“It’s going to exponentially increase the different types of ecosystems we can teach people about. … There’s woodlands, fields, wetlands, lakes and streams — it’s just everything you would want in a wonderful, nature-oriented type of park,” Milos-Dale added.

The existing Lost Lake Nature Park, which was purchased by the township sometime between 2004 and 2008, is the third park to be acquired using the township’s land preservation millage funds. The 58-acre park includes Lost Lake, an 8-acre glacial pothole lake; a barrier-free fishing dock; a nature center; a sledding hill; a warming center; and a picnic area. Although trail hiking is limited, township officials said park visitors can walk up the sledding hill to one of Oakland Township’s highest points.

Lost Lake Nature Park is located at 846 Lost Lake Trail, south of Predmore Road, between Kline and Rochester roads. For more information, visit oaklandtownship.org or call (248) 651-4440, ext. 299.

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