The Land at Dicken Woods

According to the Ann Arbor Planning Department Staff Report, "all evidence points to this site being used for agricultural activities until the land was left fallow at least 40 years ago. There is no evidence of other uses." A farmhouse was on the site, until about 1984, it's foundation still intact in the woods. masterplan textThis tract of undeveloped land is adjacent to Ann Arbor's highest elevation. Water flows from here down hill via Allen's and Mallett's Creeks, towards downtown Ann Arbor and the Huron River.

The land at Dicken Woods comprises 10 acres of rolling wooded terrain, much of which contains important natural features such as wetlands, woodlands, and slopes. Ten acres of nature in the city, abutting Dicken Elementary School ... prime space for childhood adventures and learning opportunities; ideal land for any and all to escape today's stresses, to find quiet, peace, nature. The land serves as an important wildlife habitat and an important link to water quality in the Huron River via both Allen's and Mallett's Creeks.

Wetlands

Dicken Woods contains significant areas of wetlands, located in each of the four corners of the land, as well as cutting diagonally across the middle of the site, starting in the high land at the southwest corner and flowing downhill towards both the northeast and southeast corners. Indeed, the wider neighborhood has been shown to have many wetlands, with the adjacent fields at Dicken Elementary School (and numerous neighbor's yards) often so wet as to prevent usability by the school children. Aerial photos from 1947 show significant areas of surface water - large ponds or small lakes - throughout the vicinity. Neighbors today note that water rises from the ground, particularly in the spring time, leaving high water marks on their surrounding property. masterplan text

Allen's Creek

The Ann Arbor Planning Department Staff Report for the Feb. 4, 2003 Planning Commission meeting notes that while Dicken Woods is not "the" headwaters of Allen's Creek, it does lie within the headwaters (according to Meriam-Webster, "headwaters" means the source of a stream) of Allen's Creek, which is an important tributary of the Huron River. Allen's Creek is a controversial Ann Arbor environmental entity, with a significant impact on both the development of downtown Ann Arbor (due to concerns about floodplain issues), and the quality of the Huron River. Allen's Creek has recently been the subject of an intense research and planning process, resulting in the May 2001 Michigan Department of Environmental Quality-approved "Allen's Creek Watershed Management Plan," designed to restore the health of this important waterway. A short summary of that plan demonstrates the enormous impact of Allen's creek on many fronts, from flooding in many areas of the city in parks, streets, basements & businesses, to the quality of our drinking water, to soil erosion, killing of downstream trees, and on.

Malletts Creek

Dicken Woods also drains partially into Malletts Creek, another important urban tributary of the Huron River. Like Allen's Creek, Malletts Creek has been severely impacted by urban development within its creekshed, and it too has recently been the subject of a large, multi-jurisdictional research and planning effort. According to the recently completed Malletts Creek Management Plan:
  • "As a result of expansion of urban development in Malletts creekshed, Malletts Creek has become dangerously degraded, producing a great deal of surging of the creek and consequent flooding of properties, reduction of biological life in the creek, and unacceptably high levels of pollutants which flow into and degrade the Huron River."
Today Dicken Woods plays an important role as a natural area in the Huron River watershed, absorbing and filtering storm water. Tomorrow, this important role could be replaced and transformed into one more developed area of impervious surface, shedding pollution and storm water surges into the areas of lower elevation on the way towards the Huron River.

Woodlands & Slopes

Roughly 50% of the hilly, sloping terrain of Dicken Woods is covered by woodlands, with the highest quality areas concentrated along the borders of the site, providing ideal coverage for interior portions of the land.

Wildlife in the City

Dicken Woods provides critical wildlife habitat within the urban core of Ann Arbor. Neighbors have seen extensive varieties of wildlife in the woods, including many varieties of birds, as well as deer, spotted fox, coyote, and many smaller types of animals. One neighbor, a volunteer who has rehabilitated thousands of injured birds, has used Dicken Woods as a sanctuary in which she has released many of those birds once they are well enough to survive on their own. A February 2003 article in the Ann Arbor News confirmed coyote sightings in the wooded area just south of Dicken Woods at Scio Church.
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Thomas Ivacko,
Aug 24, 2015, 6:21 PM
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Thomas Ivacko,
Aug 24, 2015, 6:25 PM