By Jessica Mathews /

A new general management plan for the Proud Lake State Recreation Area is moving through the approval process.

The plan helps shape long-range planning and management strategy to protect the park’s resources while addressing recreation and education needs and opportunities.

The Recreation Area is located between Milford, Wixom and Walled Lake. There’s access to four miles of state and federally designated Huron River Water Trail, A 4-mile stretch of the Huron River flows through the park, which is part of a state and federally designated water trail that provides fishing and paddling opportunities. It was noted that there are rare fishing opportunities because it’s one of a few trout-stocked rivers in Southeast Michigan.

The park is also home to a modern campground, camper cabins, more than 20 miles of trails, a long-running canoe/kayak livery, a swimming beach and boating access sites, land open to hunting and a 105-acre nature study area that encompasses a floating bog and associated woodland vegetation.

The process to develop the long-range plan by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources got underway in 2019 but it slowed due to the pandemic and eventually picked back up last summer.

Input on the draft plan has been collected via stakeholder meetings, different surveys and most recently in mid-December, a virtual public meeting. It began with an overview of the planning process and draft plan, followed by an opportunity to share feedback and questions with DNR staff.

Key components of the plan include identifying core values and guiding resources, park purpose and significance; allocate 20-year management zones for resource protection, development and park use; and 10-year action goals.

The park is said to see a lot of repeat visitors and among some of the common themes for activities that people want to see preserved included camping, hiking, mountain biking, and water recreation such as paddling, boating, swimming and fishing. Some indicated a desire to keep the natural aspects of areas and the level of maintenance and staff. A number of comments were also received about trails and mountain biking. Some things suggested to change or improve were invasive species management and accessibility including barrier-free access and improving water access.

Various action goals and capital improvements in the plan were highlighted during the meeting.

MDNR Park Management Plan Administrator Debbie Jensen said one aspect they want to look at is accessibility or barrier-free opportunities across the entire park, noting they’ve heard from a lot of people that it’s important and they know they need to get older facilities up to date.

Jensen said they’re also nearing the completion of a stewardship plan to guide management of natural resources and continue to review opportunities to connect trails by park boundaries.

Jensen noted the plan also contains several goals in the plan to improve water access including the Powers Unit, the primary picnic area, to see if they can improve access to the water in that location. She said they want to re-configure the Bass Lake launch for motorized and non-motorized boat access, mitigate erosion and improve access for non-motorized boating and fishing at Huron River site. Other goals included constructing playgrounds at the campground and a shelter at the canoe rental.

Other notable projects in the plan include accessibility improvements at the campground and beach area and construction of a fishing pier at the campground - which was said to be very popular and options will be studied to modernize the canoe livery that has high-use. Smaller projects included updating buildings and other partner projects were highlighted with different user groups for separate equestrian and mountain bike trail systems.

After everything is compiled, the DNR planning team will meet to discuss input and comments received and identify any modifications to the draft plan that should be incorporated into the final plan. Any changes will be made and the plan will go through an approval process with a goal of adopting it in March.

A link to the presentation and the draft plan is provided.