Along the banks of the Grand River, just upstream from Grand Haven’s famous musical fountain, along a cut-out in the river known as “the sag,” is a mile of shoreline that has been privately held for many decades.
The 345-acre property sits between green space owned by the cities of Grand Haven and Ferrysburg and North Ottawa Dunes. The site has long been used for sand mining, but has been inactive in recent years. The property includes forested dunes, an 80-acre, and riverfront land with wetlands.
This fall, the public will have the opportunity to experience the natural beauty this property holds for the first time.
This property is now co-owned by Ottawa County Parks and the Land Conservancy of West Michigan (LCWM). It will open to the public on October 15, 2018 following boundary marking, safety improvements, sign and trail marking installations.
A partnership seeking permanent conservation
The Land Conservancy purchased half the property by securing a loan from The Conservation Fund and has leased its portion of the property to Ottawa County Parks for management. Once the funds have been secured to pay back the loan used for purchase, and additional expenses, the property will be transferred to and fully owned by Ottawa County Parks.
“In order to secure this property for the public, the purchase needed to happen in full, but we only had grant funding for just over half of the property. The Land Conservancy really stepped up and for that we are very grateful. Without them, the opportunity to purchase this land would not have been possible,” said John Scholtz, Ottawa County Parks Director.
Now both organizations are working to secure the remaining funds needed to protect all of the property. Ottawa County Parks submitted a 2018 grant application to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund and a decision on that request will be made in December of 2018. The Land Conservancy will need to raise a minimum of $200,000 to cover costs related to the loan.
“The Trust Fund grant is critical to the success of this project, and they will be looking to see how much the community stands behind it,” said Land Conservancy Executive Director Joe Engel. “Strong public support is crucial; the more we are able to raise before the final grant decision, the more likely the trust fund is to approve the grant.”
Anyone interested in making a contribution to help save this property for public enjoyment and nature preservation can visit: naturenearby.org/ottawasands