The recently completed Galien River boardwalk in New Buffalo spans a beautiful estuary. Berrien County, with the aid of the Pokagon Fund, created this simple but impressive park. It features a 60-foot-high observation platform and a long water-level boardwalk, enabling visitors to explore a locale where the waters of lake and river meet. The observation platform, which juts out from a bluff, offers a panoramic view of the wetland below.
We are not far from where the Galien River, which runs through the Warren Woods, empties into Lake Michigan. The river, which has a healthy current, here begins to mingle with the waters of the Lake, forming a broad, watery plain, particularly when the Lake waters are strong enough to flow inland, overwhelming the river, as they recently have.
The estuary harbors many fish, birds, insects, mammals, and reptiles. Its strange waters nourish algae, grasses, and aquatic plants. It’s lousy with frogs, water-spiders, and many other little creatures on which bigger creatures like to feed. The general muckiness of it keeps humans from trespassing, say to get a better view of a beaver lodge.
The foundation of the estuary is the grasses, which generate new forms of life as they decompose. The water of the estuary is many colors and many thicknesses. In some places it is clear and fresh-looking, in others clogged with green or brown flecks and gloppy or gelatinous. In the summer, aquatic plants will shoot up from beneath the waters, and startlingly tall grasses will grow in great stands.