Waterford, Michigan -- Three Oakland County residents were recognized recently for their contributions to the quality of life at the fourth annual Trail, Water, & Lands Alliance Celebration.
West Bloomfield resident Lorna McEwen received the Lawrence Falardeau Pioneer Award and Jim Meenahan of Commerce Township and Kristen Myers of Rochester Hills were recognized with the 2012 Trails, Water, & Lands Alliance Service Award. The honors, which are sponsored by the Oakland County Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs, were given Oct. 5 at Camp Wathana in Rose Township.
The Lawrence Falardeau Pioneer Award is given to an individual demonstrating longstanding, significant, and exemplary service to natural resource planning, implementation, and/or recreation. The award is named after Lawrence Falardeau, a former economic development employee, who dedicated much of his 29 year career to protecting the environment through responsible development, connecting communities with non-motorized trails, and promoting the area’s special places and special spaces. He received the first award in 2009.
McEwen has been actively involved in protecting the quality of life in West Bloomfield Township for over 40 years. She serves on the board of trustees for the Six Rivers Regional Land Conservancy. McEwen used her skills to gain local support to protect and preserve Marshbank Park. She is a founding member the Concerned Citizens for West Bloomfield and the West Bloomfield Land Conservancy.
The park was owned by the Huron Clinton Metropolitan Authority. When the agency decided to sell the property, Concerned Citizens got the property deeded to the township at no cost. McEwen and the Concerned Citizens also supported the township purchase of the West Bloomfield Woods Nature Preserve and the former Grand Trunk Railroad railbed, which is now the West Bloomfield Trail.
Since 2001, Meenahan has served on the Oakland County Business Roundtable Quality of Life Committee, which focuses on improving Oakland County as a place to live and work.
In 2006, over 550 acres of the Proud Lake State Recreation Area were to be removed from public ownership as a part of the state’s land consolidation strategy. Meenahan, a founding member of the “Save Our State Land,” helped gain the support of local residents to oppose the sale. He also testified before the Natural Resources Commission and urged Commerce Township to work with the DNR to purchase the site. This property had has gorgeous vistas and valuable wetland and was a former Nike Air Base used during the Cold War Era.
Recently, Commerce Township acquired the site and is working on a master plan for the new park. Meenahan is also actively involved with the Friends of Byers Homestead.
Myers is manager of Michigan’s first rails-to-trails path, the Paint Creek Trail. She has overseen many improvement projects such as trail resurfacing, interpretive and wayfinding signage, National Trails Day events, art installations and a boundary survey of the trail. These projects helped the Paint Creek Trail earn a National Recreation Trail designation from the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Myers helped create the Friends of the Paint Creek Trail in 2010. She serves as the group’s secretary and works on grant writing, fundraising and public relations. The group is raising money to install additional restrooms, drinking fountains, a new bridge, and removing invasive species along the trial. Prior to working with the Paint Creek Trail, Myers was appointed to the Rochester Hills Planning Commission, Paint Creek Trailways Commission, and the Rochester Hills Parks Advisory Board. She served as the chair of the Oakland County Trails Advisory Council from 2007-2012.
Recipients of the Trails, Water, & Lands Alliance Service Award have demonstrated significant and consistent support of improving the quality of life in Oakland County through planning, design, or implementation; strong leadership and/or legislative efforts. Dan Navarre, director of West Bloomfield Parks & Recreation, received the award in 2009. The recipients were awarded hiking sticks crafted by a local woodworker.
In April, the Oakland County Natural Areas Advisory Group merged with the Oakland County Trails Advisory Council to form the Trails, Water & Lands Alliance, which works to created enhanced quality of life opportunities.