Trail improvements to close parts of Asylum Lake Preserve

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Asylum Lake Preserve

KALAMAZOO--A portion of the trail on the east end of Asylum Lake in Western Michigan University's Asylum Lake Preserve will be modified this summer to increase safety, improve accessibility and mitigate erosion.

Cari DeLong, WMU natural areas manager, says the work is expected to begin July 30 and continue for eight weeks, with areas of the Kalamazoo preserve closed due to the construction. The trail being improved begins at the Winchell Avenue pedestrian entrance and ends just past the stream that flows from Asylum to Little Asylum Lake.

The University has been working with Larry Harris & Associates, a local landscape architectural firm, to create a plan to make the east end of the lake accessible to emergency vehicles and visitors with disabilities. The firm has also designed a plan to mitigate erosion near the Asylum-to-Little Asylum lake stream, also known as the spillway.

"This is a very exciting project, as it will allow disabled visitors to access parts of the preserve that were previously inaccessible due to uneven terrain and erosion," DeLong says. "This project will also improve the water quality of Little Asylum Lake by eliminating the erosion that deposits extra sediment into the stream, and the addition of native plants will increase biodiversity, improving the overall health of the ecosystem."

The project calls for WMU to stabilize the spillway area and build a natural retaining wall to stop the hillside from eroding. The area will be planted with native vegetation to aid in slope stabilization and provide food and cover for wildlife. A bench will be placed at the bottom of the hill near the stream so visitors may comfortably rest and enjoy nature.

In addition, an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant trail will begin to be installed to allow safe access to the stream with the least amount of impact on the ecology. Making the Winchell Avenue-to-Parkview Avenue trail ADA compliant will be done in two phases, from the interior of the preserve out.

The first phase will be completed this summer and make the trail ADA compliant from Asylum Lake to the preserve's Winchell entrance. The second phase will be completed in coming years and make the trail compliant all the way from the Winchell to the Parkview entrance.

As part of the first phase of trail reconstruction, a small turnaround will also be located near the Winchell entrance in case of emergency. The turnaround will allow an ambulance to maneuver within the preserve if an emergency should occur.

The Asylum Lake Policy and Management Council, supported by WMU, initiated this summer's improvement project. For more information, contact Cari DeLong at cari.delong@wmich.edu or (269) 387-8568.