Posts Tagged With: holliday

Bridges, Trails and Vandalism in the Holliday Nature Preserve

A couple of weeks ago a friend and I, both members of the Holliday Nature Preserve Association, took a walk into a section of the Holliday Nature Preserve off Newburgh Road north of Warren Road.  What we found shocked us beyond belief.  Some group had installed bridges and trails in the Preserve.  These were not simple bridges of fallen trees or made by dropping a couple of 2 x 4s between riverbanks by a couple of kids or narrow trails.  There were three very solid, bridges consisting of pressurized lumber and very competently installed.  The bridges measured 23×4 feet, 16 x 4 feet and 9×4 feet.  There was also a trail about four feet wide in spots and nearly a mile long that appeared to be created with an ATV and a riding mower.  The trail obliterated wildflower areas in spots and even crossed an EPA Supersite that lies in the Preserve.

In addition, the letters “MBT” (Mountain Bike Trail?) were stenciled in fluorescent green paint on what seemed every possible surface: board walks installed by volunteers during Rouge Rescue, onto trees, and the bridges.  And if that wasn’t enough, to ensure no one got lost, pieces of florescent tape were affixed to tree limbs up and down the trail.

No group has claimed responsibility and nothing has appeared on any mountain bike websites as of this point. A rogue group of mountain bikers seems to be the likely culprits since bike tracks were clearly visible and this group has been very vocal in its support of a mountain bike trail in Holliday, even though mountain bikes and motorized vehicles are strictly prohibited.

But why this unknown  group would go onto public property and build bridges and a trail system is beyond me.  The Preserve is not their property and they did not have permission to work in it.  As I mentioned in an article on the HNPA website, they wouldn’t dream of going into a Michigan State Park or a regional Metro Park or even a Westland city park without permission to work.  So whatever possessed them to think they could do this in a Wayne County Park?

The Holliday Nature Preserve runs along a tributary of the Rouge River in Westland.  It’s basically a ribbon park, only a couple of hundred yards wide in spots.  The Preserve was created in the 1960’s thanks to a gift from Arthur Richardson in the name of his uncle William P. Holliday. (See my blog on the Preserve’s history for more information.)

Houses, apartments and even businesses back up to the Preserve putting it under intense urban pressure from everything from kids building tree forts to homeowners treating it as their backyard (some have even installed playground equipment or tried to drain wetlands).  Mountain bikers are another threat as they enjoy riding up and down the walking trails and even have built small bridges.

However, never before has any group gone in and adversely impacted the Preserve in so short a period.

And, this time, they apparently went too far because when HNPA reported the work to Wayne County Parks, employees responded quickly, cutting up the bridges and posting signs from the sheriff’s department ordering that no more work take place in the Preserve.

HNPA is pleased by the fast response.

The question remains of why some group would go to the time and expense (this was a fairly expensive and time-intensive project).  Perhaps they felt they were doing EVERYONE a favor by extending the trail system and building bridge across streams to give the public better access to various sections of the Preserve. If they did, they were very wrong. In fact, they may have done all mountain bikers and even groups like the Michigan Mountain Bikers Association a disfavor by their arrogance.

And why aren’t mountain bikes allowed in the Holliday Nature Preserve? That’s a subject for another blog and for our next HNPA newsletter.

Categories: ecology, General, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Taking a Hike

I held my Nature/History (death of Chief Tonquish) walk in the Holliday Nature Preserve last Saturday. The Preserve is in Westland, Michigan and part of the Wayne County Parks system.

Fifteen people showed up for the 10 a.m. event. Temps were in the mid-40s and clouds threatened rain. I think weather conditions and the early start kept numbers down despite a nice article in the Westland Observer that came about as a result of a press release I sent.  The article was accurate, they used some of my press release and my name was spelled right.

The walk was sponsored by the Holliday Nature Preserve Association. I’m the webmaster and newsletter editor. The HNPA holds these hikes as a way to introduce people to  the Preserve and to our organization. The article, along with drawing seven new people and did a nice job of publicizing the Preserve and our organization.

Along with sharing information on the Preserve itself, I told the story of the death of Chief Tonquish for whom the creek that runs through the Holliday Preserve was named. Tonquish was a minor chief of the Potawatomi who was killed in October 1819 following the killing of a settler.  What makes the story even sadder is that the Chief’s son was also killed–due to the action’s of the father.

What happened, according to historical accounts, was the Indians involved in the killing of the settler were all captured in or near what is now the Tonquish Creek. They included the chief and his son. When the soldiers were distracted, the son bolted for freedom. The colonial in charge was about to shoot him when Tonquish begged him not to do so, saying he, Tonquish, would call the son back. Instead, he spoke in his native tongue and told the son to just keep running. Thinking the son was out of rifle range, Tonquish then told the Colonial to shoot saying that his son would not come back. The Colonial aimed carefully, shot and the son fell dead. Enraged, the Chief attacked the Colonial and was himself killed. A couple of decades later some kids dug up the graves and stole their contents.

I wanted to tell my hikers the ghosts of Tonquish and his still roam these woods looking for the kids who robbed their graves but there weren’t any kids on the hike so the temptation meter wasn’t high.No ghosts were spotted, although several hikers saw a nice six-point buck.

Anyway, it was nice to see my release paid off.  Maybe before the next time I will come up with ghost story. Those always sell better than history or nature.

That’s all for now, folks.

Categories: History | Tags: , | 6 Comments

Releasing a Press Release

Today I sent a press release to the Westland Observer.  It concerns a hike I am leading on Halloween morning in a nature preserve in Westland, Michigan.  It will be both a hike and a history lesson because I will also be talking about the death of Chief Tonquish, a local Indian shot dead 190 years ago because of a stolen loaf of bread.

I’m leading the hike on behalf of the Holliday Nature Preserve Association.  I’m their webmaster, newsletter editor and, since we have a page on Facebook and I write this blog, their social media semi-expert.

Now I will keep my fingers crossed that Sue Mason from the Observer likes it and uses it.  Then I will need to keep them crossed to hope the weather cooperates on the 31st so people come out and join me.  It’s no fun hiking alone or in the rain/snow.  By the way, here’s the press release:

It happened 190 years ago this month: A stolen loaf of freshly baked bread, an armed posse in pursuit, and the death of a great Potawatomi chief along a creek that now bears his name in a nature preserve that may hold his bones.

Join members of the Holliday Nature Preserve Association (HNPA) on Halloween, Oct. 31 at 10 a.m. for a leisurely hour-long hike along the Tonquish Creek in Westland to enjoy the fall colors and hear the story of the death of Chief Tonquish  and the mystery of his burial site.  The walk is free and everyone is welcome.  Light refreshments will be served afterwards

The event takes place at the Cowen entrance to the Preserve, which is located on Central City Parkway, west of Wayne Road.  There is a small parking lot at the entrance and a larger lot directly across the street.  The walk will be held rain or shine so participants are advised to dress accordingly.  Sturdy walking shoes are also suggested since trails in the Preserve can be slippery and uneven.

HNPA was organized in 1988 and consists of volunteers dedicated to the William P. Holliday Forest & Wildlife Preserve.  The group seeks to nurture a greater appreciation of this unique local natural resource by hosting walks and working to improve the experience of visitors through Preserve maintenance and improvements conducted in partnership with Wayne County Parks. This is one of three walks scheduled by the group through December.

More information about the walk and the HNPA can be found on the group’s website at or via email at

That’s it for now, folks.

Categories: General, History | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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