Thursday, October 25, 2012

Middleville Spring Park

Middleville Spring Park doesn't look like anything special.  Tucked behind a Speedway gas station on M-37 on the southern edge of Middleville, it appears to be a typical small town park with a baseball diamond, some swings and a jungle gym, a picnic shelter, and a few disc golf baskets.  Yet, if you follow an inconspicuous trail, marked only by a small brown notice "MDEQ Wetland Conservation Easement", north from the ball field, you will find a hidden natural gem-- small, valuable, and (in-season) colorful.

Beyond the park is a fen: a rare habitat for some special wildflowers.  Some people call it the Barry County fen and others refer to the Middleton fen.  I don't know if it has an official name and I'm not sure it's officially part of Spring Park but it is open to the public with a few benches, bridges, and a short boardwalk.  Fens are wetlands somewhat like bogs but while bogs are acidic, fens have a neutral or alkaline pH and a high mineral content.

The fen doesn't offer dramatic scenery.  Instead, its beauty is small-scale and requires the viewer to stop and look.  When I visited in September, Fringed Gentians were in bloom all along the creek; orchids and other wildflowers bloom there in other seasons.

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