Independence Oaks County Park opens 188 new acres to public

Just in time for summer, Oakland County Parks has opened almost 200 acres of new park land at Independence Oaks for nature-lovers and residents to enjoy.

Independence Oaks County Park-North, located just a mile north of Independence Oaks County Park, offers visitors a 312-foot boardwalk and a 180-foot fishing dock for anglers on Upper Bushman Lake.

“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,” Oakland
County Parks and Recreation 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.”

Visitors can access the park via a 30-space gravel parking lot located south of the intersection of Sashabaw and Oak Hill roads. 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.

An Oakland County Parks and Recreation daily or annual vehicle pass is required for parking and park access. The park is open seven days from 7 a.m. — 30 minutes after sunset or as otherwise posted.Independence Oaks County Park-North is located on Sashabaw Road, 3 ½ miles north of I-75, in Clarkston. For more information, visit DestinationOakland.com.