Natural Features of DW

Note: This is archived info from the original website for the Friends of Dicken Woods. 
It was written when the Friends were in the process of saving DW


The Issues

Natural Features

Dicken Woods is comprised mostly of areas with significant natural features, including woodlands, wetlands and slopes. And beyond its borders, Dicken Woods is located in a wider area of significant natural features, including a ravine area in the backyards of houses along Maple Road and Dicken Drive, hills and other wooded areas, open space at Dicken Elementary School, and many wetland areas. As noted in the West Area Plan, "a string of wetlands is found between I-94 and Maple Road, from Liberty Street to Scio Church Road." [p. 15.] In addition, the satellite photo on the 'maps' page also shows further wetlands - surface ponds - directly across I-94 from Dicken Woods. As we've seen in other quotes from the West Area Plan, undeveloped lands containing natural features require extra care when considering proposals for development that would impact these special areas.

According to the City of Ann Arbor's Wetlands Preservation Ordinance:

  • "Preservation and enhancement of wetlands is essential to maintaining and improving the City's aesthetic character, its ecological stability, its economic well-being, its educational opportunities, and its quality of life.

  • Wetlands are protected to help reduce damage to aquatic resources from erosion, turbidity, siltation, and contamination. They are protected to minimize the loss of native plants and animals, to help preserve biological diversity and to minimize the loss of wildlife habitat within the City, and to sustain many benefits wetlands can help provide - including flood control, storm water storage and release, ground water recharge, and water quality improvement."

Meanwhile, the West Area Plan says the following about woodlands, wetlands and wildlife habitat:

  • "As the West Area developed over the last several decades, little thought was given to the preservation of natural features such as wetlands, woodlands, steep slopes or natural drainage ways. However, many of the remaining vacant sites in the area are vacant because of physical constraints created by those features and because the sites with fewer natural features have been developed. With few easily developable sites remaining in the West Area, there is conflict between development and preservation of open space and natural features." [p. 22]

  • Woodlands

  • "The preservation of urban woodlands is important because they provide a natural habitat for wildlife and have environmental and aesthetic value for humans. Woodlands moderate certain climate conditions such as flooding and high winds by protecting watersheds from siltation soil erosion caused by stormwater runoff or wind. They also contribute to better air quality by absorbing certain pollutants, and offer buffers from noise." [p. 14]

  • Wetlands

  • "Wetlands provide a unique natural system and contribute to flood control, stormwater storage and release, groundwater recharge and discharge, and water quality improvement. Since wetlands are an important element of the ecosystem, care must be taken that assures their protection when development occurs." [p. 15]

  • Wildlife Habitat

  • "Natural areas provide habitat for animals, birds, and other wildlife important to the ecosystem. Typically, the natural environment and the urban environment were considered mutually exclusive. However, a significant number of plant and animal species exist in urban areas and on their periphery. The variety of plant communities determines the diversity and stability of the wildlife populations within an area. The best way to maintain wildlife and ecosystem values is to minimize fragmentation and to increase habitat diversity. In developing areas, fragmentation is inevitable. However, preserving habitat corridors and natural linkages provides a means of mitigating the effects of habitat fragmentation. Corridors provide for relatively easy means of wildlife and plant dispersal across areas where it would otherwise be difficult." [p. 15]