Archived Story

Work to begin on Niles trail where endangered plant not affected

Published 9:12am Monday, April 26, 2010

By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star

The city of Niles is still waiting for approval from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to transplant the endangered prairie trillium plant from along a proposed trail extension in Niles to Fernwood Botanical Garden.

But that’s not getting in the way of the city at least getting started on the project. Niles Public Works Director Neil Coulston announced this weekend that Jaran Construction out of Allegan will begin some intersection work Tuesday at Front and Wayne streets, where the prairie trillium is not an issue.

“It was really up to the contractor,” Coulston said. “The work at Front and Wayne isn’t affected. It’s just a matter of whether the contractor wanted to come in and work and potentially move out of town later.”

Still Coulston has “high hopes” the DNR will give its approval by the first week of May to move the trillium. Then if all goes according to schedule, the trail extension could be complete by early August.

Wendy Jones, head naturalist at Fernwood who inspected the area for the city, found about 100 plants of the prairie trillium two weeks ago. Jones’ report was then sent to Lansing, along with a request to the DNR to allow the city to transplant the plants to Fernwood.

The project calls for the trail to be expanded north and south, tripling its length to 2.25 miles. The extension is part of a bigger trails project that would connect communities as far as Mishawaka.

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