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Oakland County Parks Announces Expansion of Independence Oaks

Oakland County Parks and Recreation officially opens its newest acquisition, Independence Oaks County Park-North, on Saturday, May 28, 2011.

Visitors can access the park via a 30-space gravel parking lot located south of the intersection of Sashabaw and Oak Hill roads. Independence Oaks-North, featuring a 312-foot boardwalk connecting to a 180-foot-long fishing dock, is located one mile north of Independence Oaks County Park.

“The dock provides a spectacular view of 31-acre Upper Bushman Lake which is now open to the public for the very first time. This spring-fed lake is part of the headwaters of the Clinton River watershed,” Executive Officer Dan Stencil said. “We’ve had residents who have seen the boardwalk under construction from Oak Hill Road saying they can’t wait to access the lake.”

The docks are located in the northern kettle of Upper Bushman Lake in approximately 15’-19’ of water. Anglers can fish for Large-mouth Bass, Bluegill, Pumpkinseed Sunfish, Rock Bass, Bullhead Catfish, Northern Pike and Croppie. Anglers must follow Michigan Department of Natural Resources rules including possession of a fishing license.

“Catch-and-release is highly encouraged to help preserve this unique fishing resource,” Stencil said. “This lake will provide fishing opportunities for generations to come.”

Park visitors can portage and launch canoes, kayaks or other registered portable non-motorized boats. All watercraft must be hand carried along a 1,200-foot-long gravel trail from the parking lot to the lake. No vehicular boat launch is provided. The property will be open for archery deer hunting in fall, 2011.

The property was named Independence Oaks-North because it connects tip-to-tip through wetlands with Independence Oaks County Park. The two park sections do not currently connect for trail access.

“In the future, we want to connect 1,285-acre Independence Oaks with 188-acre Independence Oaks-North to provide more trail access. The parks system currently offers 68 miles of trails and trails are the number one recreation option county residents and regional visitors want us to provide,” Stencil said.

Named a Michigan Natural Features Inventory Priority One Conservation Area, Independence Oaks-North contains rare natural communities such as Southern Wet Meadow, Wet-Mesic Prairie, Prairie Fen and Hardwood-Conifer Swamp.

The 188-acre parcel was acquired in 2010 with a $945,000 grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, a $105,000 Carl’s Foundation grant via a partnership with Ducks Unlimited and a $16,000 donation from North Oakland Headwaters Land Conservancy.

Independence Oaks County Park-North is located on Sashabaw Road, 3 ½ miles north of I-75, in Clarkston. For more information, visit the Oakland Count Parks website.

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