September 2, 2014

Rifle River access plans turned over to Michigan DNR

By Jeff Patrus|Staff Writer
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DEEP RIVER TOWNSHIP — Deep River Township Supervisor Robert Budz said he is hopeful that construction on two access points for the Rifle River in Deep River Township can begin in spring 2010.

To that end, Budz said that specifications for the two potential access points have been turned over to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for engineering. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to get something going in the spring,” he said, although he added that “it would take a while” for the DNR to complete its work.

In a November interview with the Independent, Budz said that the township assumed control of two tax-reverted properties along the river “long ago,” but that they have not been developed or modified since that point. “This has been going on for quite a few years,” Budz said.

Also last month, Township Planning Commission member Dick Dell said that the estimated price of converting the two parcels to public access sites is about $3,000.

In a Dec. 14 interview, Budz told the Independent the Michigan DNR has jurisdiction of the property within 400 feet of the river, but after that point, he said he is not sure what organization or governmental agency would have jurisdiction. He also said once the DNR completes its engineering work, then the township would put projects related to construction of the access points (such as soil removal and gravel hauling) out for bid.

In November, Dell said that the public could get to the two sites that the township owns by taking Miller Road (Dell said an access point there has high banks that are about 30 feet high) and Maryland Drive (Dell said that point is fairly level and would be the easiest spot to place a public access site).

Budz said several township residents have expressed an interest in having access points to the river available for people to go canoeing, tubing, or fishing.

“There’s been a lot of people that do not have access that would like to,” he said.

In addition, he said he has talked to Dell about the matter, and he said Dell told him that citizens would enjoy the chance to place their canoes or tubes in the river.

However, Budz also said establishing access points for citizens may present a “nuisance” to residents of people at the access points became excessively noise. He said he does not expect that to be a significant obstacle, though.

“As long as they act in a respectful manner, I don’t think it will be a problem,” he said.

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