Fall is one of the most beautiful seasons to recreate in Rouge Park. This summer and fall, we ramped up our efforts to restore trails and habitat in Rouge Park, thanks to a new partner: the USDA Forest Service. Lisa Perez, Detroit Urban Connections Program Specialist at USDA Forest Service worked with us to develop a Challenge Cost Share Agreement to cooperate to engage youth and families in outdoor conservation education and service learning.
This new USDA Forest Service agreement enabled us to bring on Antonio Cosme and David Oakley. Since June, they have been engaging youth and young adults in restoring the park kiosks, building the Ma'iingan Wildwood Trail, teaching people about the forest and prairie and tackling the huge issue that we have with non native woody plants in the park. We are so honored to have support to engage people in Rouge Park's urban forests from our federal government! We are also happy to report that we will continue and expand this relationship including looking to employ a team of local youth to spend a week working in the park next summer.
Your Friends of Rouge Park Board continues to grow the organization. We are completing the draft of a Five Year Strategic Plan that we will be sharing with you for your input. We have applied for funding for a cherry grove and indigenous fruit and nut tree trail. We are very excited to have received funding through the Michigan Non Profit Relief Fund to help keep our organization running after the challenges of the pandemic. And we just kicked off the process of working with Goaltrac to develop a staffing and fundraising plan to be completed early next year.
We also continue to advocate for Rouge Park. We have been working with Commissioner Alisha Bell with support from Councilman Fred Durhal's office to get bike lanes and a road diet on Outer Drive, a simple task complicated by the two jurisdictions. We have learned that the city's plan to make Rouge Park a self-contained park with staff headquartered in the park continues to be delayed by the renovations in the service yard but should be completed next spring. We continue to work with the city to ensure that the DWSD projects in Rouge Park accomplish their purpose in treating stormwater without taking away from the park. We are discussing the impact that the ever present sound of multiple gunshots from the Rouge Park Pistol Range has on park goers and surrounding residents. And, we are excited about the upcoming Pistons funded Recreation Center and are working to ensure that this center fits with the park with a minimal impact on the natural resources.
As we look to November, it is the time of year to give thanks to all of you for your support in making Rouge Park the best it can be. Please consider a year end donation to help support this important work. We also hope to see you at our Holiday Party on Tues. Dec. 19 at 6 pm.
-Sally Petrella, President