Parking lot may threaten rare fish species

Construction area in Plymouth Township’s McClumpha Park

Jun. 22, 2015  PLYMOUTH EAGLE.

Plymouth Michigan News


“I certainly hope they will consider building swales or other stormwater control devices to filter pollutants out of the water before it goes into the river.”


Don Howard

Staff Writer

Pond in Plymouth Park
Pond in Plymouth Park

Local environmentalists are hoping the planned construction in McClumpha Park in Plymouth Township will not threaten the habitat of a rare fish species.

Tonquish Creek is the only known sighting of a sensitive fish species called the Least Darter. The planned construction of a 209-car parking lot scheduled to be built in the area designated as a sub-watershed could impact the delicate fish, according to Sally Petrella, volunteer monitoring program manager for the Friends of the Rouge.

Petrella said the water quality in the Plymouth Township McClumpha Park section is one of the best in the Rouge River Watershed area and hopes it stays that way.

Least Darter - Etheostoma microperca
Least Darter – Etheostoma microperca

Friends of the Rouge promotes restoration and stewardship of the 126 mile long Rouge River through river reporting, education and monitoring and hosts educational projects to train teachers. The river watershed covers 467 square miles.

“I certainly hope they will consider building swales or other stormwater control devices to filter pollutants out of the water before it goes into the river,” said Petrella. To date, the township has not applied to Wayne County for a site-specific stormwater permit or soil erosion permits.

Petrella, a 15-year full-time employee of the non-profit organization that was founded to raise awareness about the need to clean up the Rouge River, said the group is involved in an on-going study of the water quality in the township park, especially since they have identified a species of fish called the Least Darter or Etheostoma microperca. The tiny fish are sometimes found in streams near vegetation, along overhanging grassy banks and among filamentous algae. Their habitat is near the edges of streams in quieter water so the small creatures avoid strong currents. According to Petrella the only place they have been found in the entire Rouge River system is in the branch of Tonquish Creek inside the township park.

The branch of the Tonquish Creek comes under the jurisdiction of Wayne County. Informed residents concerned about the planned developments in the once-quiet park say that the township is not adhering to rules and regulations that officials impose on all other construction projects in the township.

The Eagle asked Wayne County Water Quality and Land Management Division Director of Public Services Terry Spryzak about required stormwater permits for the parking lot project. The water quality and land management division is responsible for environmental protection of wetlands and waterways in Wayne County.

An email reply stated, “A Wayne County construction/stormwater permit application has not been received by the Permit Office. We are unable to comment on Plymouth Township’s construction methods for this project. Wayne County will monitor construction activities in Plymouth Township like we do for the rest of Wayne County.”

Lloyd Jackson, Wayne County communications director said he was unaware of any township plans to handle runoff or the detention of stormwater.

“We’re not aware of anything but cutting down trees,” Jackson said in response to the inquiry and questions submitted last week.

One resident experienced in environmental protections and watershed management who asked not to be identified said, “These are not mere landscaping rules, they are mandated by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and former Federal Court Judge Feikens and Plymouth Township entered into a permit with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) where they promised to enforce and adhere to these rules.”
Petrella indicated that while there was some state oversight for the sub- watershed area, it’s not optimum.

“There’s a DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) permitting process, but unfortunately there’s no protections in place for this area,” she said.

Bids for the new parking lot are due in the township clerk’s office July 11.


Plymouth Voice.


Fish Image: NANFA











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