Front Porch: Spring 2014
Saline's name and identity are tied up with salt, yet the actual salt springs that once bubbled up along the Saline River south of town hadn't been seen since the area was drained for farming in the nineteenth century. But last year, Jim Peters accidentally discovered a salt spring that is still active!
Peters and his dog Bonnie, a gentle but energetic pit bull terrier, were hiking on undeveloped city land near Saline's wastewater treatment plant.Bonnie pulled Peters toward a muddy puddle to get a drink. "As she got close, she sank in up to her chest in muck. Before I could pull her out, she had backed herself out," he recalls.
Peters washed the grayish mud off Bonnie in the nearby Saline River, then went back to take a closer look at the puddle. "I noticed very few plant varieties growing nearby and that the mud was covered with deer tracks." That's when Peters, then a city councilmember, had his "aha" moment: Why were the deer drinking there when they could have used the river? And why was the puddle in a clearing with no trees and substantially less vegetation than anywhere else nearby?
Peters collected some of the watery muck in a plastic bottle he found and took it to the city lab to be tested. "When the report came back that it was as salty as sea water, I was like a kid at Christmas," recalls Peters. He double-checked the findings using a cleaner bottle and another lab. Again the same results came back.