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Enbridge, late on EPA cleanup, is spreading money around Calhoun County, Mich.

Enbridge Energy Partners, a Canadian oil company responsible for the July 2010 rupture of the Lakehead Pipeline 6B which spewed an estimated one million gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River, is providing two Calhoun county programs with cash and services for improvements of parks and river access.

On Thursday night, the Calhoun County Commission voted to accept a proposal from Enbridge which will result in upgrades to Historic Bridges Park — which has been closed since the rupture. The deal would see Enbridge planting new trees, restroom facilities, improved parking, a handicapped-accessible canoe access point, picnic areas and improved playground equipment at the park, reports the Battle Creek Enquirer. The company will also complete four other upgrades along the river, including boating access points at 15 Mile Road, Ceresco Dam and McCormick Street and a fifth site for fishing at Wheatfield Road.

The deal also includes an endowment fund for upkeep of the parks. That fund could supply slightly over $20,000 per year for Historic Bridges.

Earlier this year, Enbridge built a bridge to an island in the river off the park’s parking area. There, clean up workers removed a large quantity of the land of the island and replaced it with clean fill land and seeded it with grass.

“It’s just about supporting the communities where we have pipelines running through these areas, and just being a good neighbor and giving back in that community,” Manshum said. “We realize that the commitment to this area goes much further than the actual incident cleanup and we recognize that the river is an important part of the community, and it’s our way of helping improve those opportunities to use that recreationally.”

The move comes as Enbridge is now two weeks behind in an EPA clean up deadline. The company was given until Aug. 31 to complete the removal of 200 acres of submerged, tar-like oil off the bottom of the river and in Marrow Lake in Galesburg. The company failed to meet that deadline, but EPA officials say the clean up is continuing.

The parks plans are not the only investment in Calhoun county Enbridge announced this week either. They also announced they were giving the Calhoun County Trailway Alliance $100,000 toward a $300,000 fundraising goal to match state grant money. The money would be used to harness $1.6 million in cash from the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. If the group can raise an additional $100,000, Enbridge has pledged to match that with another $100,000, the Enquirer reports.

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