For nearly a decade I was a seasonal maintenance worker for the Mt. Pleasant Parks Department. My main job for most of that time was to maintain the trail system in Mill Pond Park. I am very familiar with what can be found throughout this park.
Because I didn't have a lot of time, I just decided to walk down a trail that allows access to the weirs along the west bank of the river. I was not expecting to find much wildlife. I really just wanted to get some photos of the river that had swollen from recent rains and snowmelt.
Walking from the parking lot to the river I passed over several well-defined sets of squirrel tracks in the snow. Mt. Pleasant's parks are home to three species of squirrels: Red, Grey (including black morph), and Fox squirrels. In the parking lot I watched a Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger) digging through the snow, so it's not a stretch to guess that these tracks probably belonged to a Fox Squirrel.
The river itself currently has the color and clarity of chocolate milk due to suspended particles of silt and clay. The recent rains and melting snow have carried these particles from upland areas into the river. The Chippewa River generally runs pretty clear unless there has been a recent storm. Unfortunately clear does not mean clean. Testing over several years has found unnaturally high levels of E. Coli (Escherichia coli) bacteria due to contamination from both animal waste and human septic systems. This is especially true during the summer months when the bacteria can easily reproduce in the warm water.
Another nearby find was the dried stalks of a White Vervain (Verbena urticifolia). This relative of the common Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata) is commonly found in shaded damp areas such as floodplain forests.
Walking back to my truck, I decided to take a few more photographs of the river. This bridge spans the former dam site. One of the park's five weirs can be seen almost directly below the bridge. Right now the water levels are so high that the rock used to construct the weirs is completely underwater. During periods of low water, the rock is exposed and the water flows through a central spillway on each dam.
One final photo. This shows a dead tree on a sandbar in the middle of the river. Until the dam was removed from the river this tree stood on the shoreline. Since the dam has been removed, floods have dug out a new channel between this tree and the now-current shoreline. Several other trees have already been overtaken by the river. This one will soon follow.