THURSDAY, Sept. 3 — A new project is underway at the Harris Nature Center in Okemos. The park held a groundbreaking event Monday in anticipation of a 20-by-20 foot observation deck.
The deck will be six feet above ground and contain two binocular stands for park visitors to use. The deck has a ramp wrapping around it which makes it accessible for those who must use wheelchairs. It is located in a peaceful meadow about three hundred yards into the forest, surrounded by trees.
“Meridian Township manages about 1,000 acres of wildlife, and there is not anything like this deck. It’s a unique amenity just for the township,” said Kati Adams, the parks and land supervisor for Meridian Township. She also serves as the Harris Nature Center coordinator.
The construction of the observation deck will not affect the wildlife at the nature center. They do not plan to cut down any trees during the making of the deck. The center also plans to plant new plants around the deck that are attractive to local wildlife. Visitors to the deck can expect to see an abundance of butterflies, deer and squirrels through the binoculars.
Former Harris Nature Center coordinator Kit Rich first proposed the idea in 2019, and now it is finally coming to fruition. Construction is expected to be over by the end of October. The observation deck’s estimated cost is $55,000.
The project was funded by donations from the Capitol Region Community Foundation and two Meridian Township families who would like to remain unnamed. .
Adams hopes that the observation deck will be especially useful for local scout troops and nature photographers looking for the perfect shot, Because the deck is elevated, it has a clear view into the trees that offers much more than a ground-level view.
“The observation deck will be a great space that encourages the people of our community to get out and enjoy nature,” said Jim Buscetta, president of the Harris Nature Center Foundation. “It will be the perfect place for the camps and classes that the Harris nNature Center hosts every year.”