Parks

Free Walking Program in Ottawa & Allegan Counties

Parks & Public Health team up to offer Step it Up! Walking Program free in Ottawa & Allegan counties

Registration is now open for Step it Up!, a free, 8-week program created in partnership by Ottawa County’s Parks & Recreation and the Department of Public Health. Step it Up! was designed to help participants get active and visit new parks. All levels of fitness are welcome!

Participants will be able to set activity goals and track their activity through the Step it Up! online platform. Each week, participants who track their activity are eligible for incentive prizes.

The program begins May 10! To register, visit: miottawa.org/stepitup

👟 >> Register for Step it Up! today << 👟

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Group walks & activities

In order to help participants stay active throughout the program, Ottawa County Parks & Recreation offers multiple guided walks of varying paces each week. To encourage participants to discover new recreational activities, the program also offers opportunities to try kayaking, orienteering, and more. These activities and necessary equipment are free-of-charge to registered participants. Space for activities is limited and registration for each will be required. Links will be provided to registered participants.

Step it Up! begins on May 10
Commit to fit & register by May 7: miOttawa.org/Step it Up

Workplace Wellness

Local employers are invited to join the Workplace Wellness initiative to encourage their employees to participate in Step it Up! Additional incentive prizes are available to participating organizations.

To learn more about how to bring Step it Up! to your company or organization this spring, contact Jessica VanGinhoven or Amy Sheele.

Coming soon: Tree House at Grand Ravines

This summer, the Ottawa County Parks & Recreation Commission plans to commence work to add another jewel to the crown of one its most scenic and beloved parks – Grand Ravines in Georgetown Township, just south of the Grand Valley State University Allendale Campus.

Through a significant gift to the Ottawa County Parks Foundation from an anonymous foundation, the Grand Ravines Tree House will be constructed just off the Idema Explorers Trail route.The Tree House, which will be located high above the edge of ravine that parallels the north boundary of the park, will be dedicated to Bea Aldrink Idema in recognition of her love for nature, education, and having fun. The north ravines property is deeply connected to Bea and her family.

“The Ottawa County Parks Foundation was established with the hope that we could help provide ‘the margin of excellence’ for our parks systems,” said Parks Foundation President, Bobbi Jones Sabine. “We are so thankful for this gift, which will make it possible to create an inspiring, enriching connection to nature and to these ravines.”

From the inception of the Ottawa County Parks Commission in 1987, the majestic ravines system that stretches from along the western bank of the Grand River from Ottawa Creek in Allendale Township to Willow Creek in Georgetown Township has been a priority for public access and preservation. Identified by the Michigan Natural Features Inventory as one of Ottawa County’s most significant natural features, the ravines are a geological wonder in an area that otherwise has limited terrain.

Following the acquisition of the north Grand Ravines property in 2011 and the completion of the Master Plan for the park in 2013, there has been an emphasis by Ottawa County Parks & Recreation on developing amenities which uniquely connect park users with the experience of the ravines. Through Parks Millage funding, state and federal grants, and the generosity of anonymous foundations and donors, several experiences have been created that provide special access to the beauty of the ravines system – these include:

The Grand Ravines Lodge which sits atop a ravine crest and overlooks the Grand River and is available to be reserved for private events. Please note: this facility was temporarily closed for COVID; it will re-open for reservations on April 8, 2021.
The Idema Explorers Trail which traverses the edge of a ravine and features a dramatic descent from the top of the ravine to the river (and will eventually connect to Grand Haven to the west and Grand Rapids to the east), named for a $2 million gift from the Bill & Bea Idema Foundation
A Nature Overlook, dedicated to the brothers and sisters of the John and Anna Aldrink Family, which provides a full view of the forested north ravine
The 275’ Grand Ravines Suspension Bridge, constructed with a generous donation from Bea Aldrink Idema and dedicated to Ray and Alma Statema, floats 70’ above a ravine bottom on the south side of the park and has become an iconic feature of the West Michigan’s many parks (even being recently featured in a Grand Rapids-themed coloring book)

In 2018, the Michigan Recreation and Park Association (mParks) recognized the special natural features and amenities at Grand Ravines and awarded Ottawa County Parks & Recreation the Park Design award for that year.

The Tree House complements these amenities and builds on them – the Tree House will stand 40’ above ravine edge where it starts to descend steeply to the creek bottom. To reach the Tree House, users will walk along a winding 100’ long boardwalk nestled among the towering trees. The enclosed Tree House will feature a rustic design with multiple overlook locations providing a unique tree-top perspective of the descending ravine.

The Tree House concept was first developed and proposed several years ago. “The Tree House design came from sketches sitting in the drawer of our Coordinator of Park Planning and Development, Curt TerHaar, that he first worked on in 2013,” said Ottawa County Parks Commission President Kelly Rice. “We are so appreciative of our donor and our Parks Foundation for allowing us to take a fanciful paper sketch from dream to reality. Through this generosity, future generations will have a unique and magical experience in the ravines.”

Engineering design on the Tree House is expected to commence in the Spring with construction hoped to begin later this year. As part of the project, expanded parking and supporting amenities will be added to the Grand Ravines Overlook parking area along the north entrance drive for Grand Ravines off 42nd Avenue.

Additionally, work continues on the Idema Explorers Trail both east and west of Grand Ravines. Updates on the status of several segments of the trail could be provided over the course of spring and summer.

View photos of Grand Ravines here.

Ottawa County Parks & Recreation Commission Purchases Key Property in Macatawa Greenway

This property makes future Macatawa Greenway Trail connectivity possible for a 4-mile stretch of the River across 824 acres of land east of I-196.

The Ottawa County Parks & Recreation Commission purchased a 5.5-acre parcel on Black River Court directly adjacent to Holland Township’s Hawthorn Pond Park as well as to other Macatawa Greenway property that connects along the Macatawa River to 96th Avenue. The property includes nearly 500 feet of river frontage and about 2.5 acres of floodplain – including some wooded area.

“Though not a large property, this parcel is a critical and exciting addition for the long-term Macatawa Greenway project,” said Kelly Rice, Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Commission President. “It provides the final connection needed from Hawthorn Pond to 96th Avenue, making any future trail connection much more feasible.”

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Macatawa River Greenway property purchase

A group of partners including Ottawa County Parks & Recreation, Holland Charter Township, ODC Network, and other local municipalities have been working for several decades to protect and connect land along the Macatawa River to create the Macatawa Greenway. In 2019, a signed pedestrian/bicycle route the Macatawa Greenway Trail 1.0 was established, which stretches from Zeeland Township to Lake Michigan (with routes on the north and south side of Lake Macatawa). The route features several Ottawa County Parks properties, including the Historic Ottawa Beach Parks, Paw Paw Park, and the scenic 2-mile route from the north to the south end of the Upper Macatawa Natural Area, and connection to Kent County via the Fred Meijer Kenowa Trail.

“We were able to identify connections for the initial route along existing multi-use pathways and sidewalks, but our long-term goal is to provide trail connectivity along as much of the Macatawa River as possible,” said Travis Williams, Chief Executive Officer of ODC Network. “This purchase locks up the land needed for the Greenway east of I-196 and provides important connectivity to our Middle Macatawa and Poppen Woods properties.”

Now that the core land acquisitions for this section of the Greenway are competed, the collaborative team is reviewing the best options for providing public access for this section, and some obstacles remain. “While we would like to construct a paved route from Upper Macatawa to Hawthorn Pond right away, that will take more time and resources,” said Ottawa County Parks & Recreation Director Jason Shamblin, “We are examining if there is a way to open access through this area in phases.”

The first phase could be a mostly natural surface pathway from Poppen Woods to Hawthorn Pond, though expensive infrastructure is still needed to make this a reality, including a bridge crossing over the Macatawa River. Once the acquisition of the Black River Court property is completed, additional planning will be initiated to determine the most suitable plan for the new property and the greenway as a whole.

The new purchase may also offer new opportunities for Hawthorn Pond. “This property provides expanded access along Black River Court from Hawthorn Pond and usable upland acreage. This may allow for locating park amenities that would otherwise be challenging to construct in the floodplain. We will be analyzing next steps, but this is an important acquisition for Holland Township and for the Macatawa Greenway,” added Holland Township Supervisor Terry Nienhuis.

Ottawa County Parks & Recreation Survey and Long Range Parks Plan

The Ottawa County Parks & Recreation Commission is preparing its five-year Parks, Recreation, & Open Space Plan that will be released in 2021.

“Our five-year plan is crucial to the success of our parks system,” said Jason Shamblin, Ottawa County Parks Director. “It not only ensures that we are eligible for state grant funds, like the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund that has helped fund some of our biggest projects, it also provides a road map for park and trail development and accessibility improvements.”

Ottawa county residents and park visitors can help build and guide this plan most effectively by participating in surveys being released by Ottawa County.

The Ottawa County Parks & Recreation Commission hopes to hear from citizens this spring while conducting its 2020 Resident Survey. “Whether or not you are a regular park visitor, if you own a home in Ottawa County, your tax dollars make this park system possible. We appreciate that and want to hear from you.”

If you are an Ottawa County resident, please help improve your parks and plan for the future by taking the resident survey before May 15, 2020: bit.ly/2020-parks-survey

In addition, a Park Visitor survey will be conducted in early summer at a variety of parks in Ottawa County. It is open to both residents and non-residents. More information will follow.

Appendices of the 2021 Parks, Recreation, & Open Space Plan will contain aggregate data from survey respondents; it will not contain any information to identify individual survey respondents.

Click here to take the 2020 Ottawa County Parks & Recreation Resident Survey

Encuesta Disponible en Español

You can find the plan that was released in 2016 online: miottawa.org/Parks/park-plan.htm
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Ottawa County Parks Winter News

winterblueslodgePigeon Creek Park

Pigeon Creek Park offers groomed, lit cross-country ski trails, ski and snowshoe rentals for adults and children, ski lessons, sledding hill, and warming lodge with concessions.

Important Reminder: Hiking, dogs, and horses are not allowed at Pigeon Creek Park once winter operations begin.

Not feeling steady on your skis? Join us for a lesson!

Ski Lesson Pricing: $8 for 1½ hour lesson. Skis are not provided but can be rented at the lodge on a first-come, first-served basis. Check the schedule online.

Hemlock Crossing

The Ottawa County Parks Nature Center at Hemlock Crossing offers snowshoe rentals for adults and children (4+) at the Nature Center. Hemlock Crossing does not rent skis, but cross-country skiing is welcome on the trails. Hiking and dogs are allowed on the trails on-leash.

Find a family-friendly winter walk or snowshoe program: miOttawa.org/OCPevents

Riley Trails

Riley Trails offers 10+ miles of ungroomed cross-country ski trails and is a destination for fat tire bikes. Never tried it? Test one with Velo City Cycles on December 14 from 9 am-12 pm. Hiking and dogs are allowed on the trails on-leash

Herman Miller Cares Supports the Grand River Greenway

The Ottawa County Parks Foundation and Herman Miller Cares have partnered to further improve the ecological value of land within the Grand River Greenway and construct a key segment of the Idema Explorers Trail.

The Grand River Greenway is comprised of 9,000 acres of public land between Grand Haven and Grand Rapids, with over 2,700 acres protected by Ottawa County Parks. The preservation of this land provides scenic natural spaces, high quality habitat for both wildlife and recreation, and soon, the 36.5-mile Idema Explorers Trail, connecting these two great cities.

“The Grand River Greenway Initiative will help protect and enhance our local natural areas and create a better world around us all, which is why we are happy to become a partner,” said Gabe Wing, Herman Miller’s Director of Sustainability. “Many of our employees live and work in West Michigan, and will have the opportunity to enjoy this trail and the surrounding natural areas with friends and family for years to come.”

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Herman Miller team planting thousands of native plants creating habitat for pollinators.

“Giving everyone access to the scenic spaces and connected trails along the Grand River Greenway will improve the quality of life for current and future West Michigan residents,” said Bobbi Jones Sabine, President of the Ottawa County Parks Foundation. “We know that trails and outdoor recreation benefit not only health but the local economy as well. That makes it exciting that a local yet global company like Herman Miller is partnering with us on this trail initiative. We believe that the Greenway will give our West Michigan-based companies an edge in attracting future employees who are excited about living, working, and playing in this great community,” said Sabine.

Creating great spaces

Through this partnership, Herman Miller Cares has adopted a two-mile segment of the Idema Explorers Trail. Their contribution will support the completion of trail along Green St and 128th Avenue in Robinson Township; construction is slated to begin in 2020. When complete, it will connect the city of Grand Haven to Connor Bayou, the M-231 Bridge, the Spoonville Trail, and Riverside Park.

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Herman Miller team planting thousands of native plants creating habitat for pollinators.

The future construction has not delayed Herman Miller’s commitment to improving the ecological value along the a portion of trail that is already complete, which travels through Connor Bayou and includes the M-231 Trailhead. Already this fall the Herman Miller Sustainability Resource Team has hosted two volunteer workdays for their employees. Together they planted nearly 2,500 native plants at the trailhead, establishing critical habitat and creating a Monarch Waystation for migrating butterflies and other pollinators.

“At Herman Miller, we create great spaces. We’re using that same vision as inspiration for the M-231 Trailhead to help the Ottawa County Parks create great natural spaces that will get people outdoors,” said Diane Bunse, Herman Miller Cares.

Celebrating Connections Along the Grand River Greenway

Partners come together to celebrate the completion of the Versluis GVSU Campus Segment of the Idema Explorers Trail

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Left-right: County Commissioner Matt Fenske, Judge Peter Versluis, Bea Idema, President Philomena V. Mantella, Ambassador Peter Secchia, and County Commissioner Greg DeJong

The Idema Explorers Trail is a component of the Grand River Greenway, a $41 million dollar project spearheaded by Ottawa County Parks. The Grand River Greenway is comprised of 9,000 acres of public land between Grand Haven and Grand Rapids, with over 2,700 acres protected by Ottawa County Parks. The preservation of this land provides scenic natural spaces, high quality habitat for both wildlife and recreation, and soon, the 36.5-mile Idema Explorers Trail, connecting these two great cities.

Partners gathered on October 23, 2019 on Grand Valley State University’s campus to celebrate the completion of the Versluis GVSU Campus Segment of the Idema Explorers Trail. This one-mile segment trail connects Grand Ravines to GVSU’s Allendale campus, and the Allendale business district. The Idema Explorers Trail will be a 36.5-mile multi-use pathway that connects Grand Rapids to Grand Haven along the Grand River.

Grand Valley State University President Philomena V. Mantella said the Grand River Greenway project improves the quality of life for students, as well as their experience and their access to the river. “Part of what attracted me and many of our students to our great university is the beauty of our campuses, and the settings along the Grand River are a part of that incredible beauty,” Mantella said. “This trail system will eventually connect our campuses and be used by thousands of our students and student athletes for training, education and recreation.”

Peter F. Secchia, co-chair of the Grand River Greenway Campaign Committee thanked the funders of this segment of trail, including the Ottawa County Parks Foundation, Georgetown Township, and the Versluis family and said it is an example of the importance of preserving nature and green spaces. Secchia and the Grand River Greenway Campaign Committee are working to raise the final $1.1 million needed for the project.

Ottawa Sands Property Acquisition

On July 25, Ottawa County Parks completed the acquisition of the Ottawa Sands property in Ferrysburg, MI

ottawasands

Photo contributed by Bob Walma, Walma Compositions

This summer, Ottawa County Parks received a $3.82 million grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board to complete the acquisition of the Ottawa Sands. This grant, along with $200,000 of privately-raised funds by the Land Conservancy of West Michigan, funded the second phase of property acquisition.

 

The first phase of acquisition was made possible by a $4.2 million grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) in 2018 and allowed Ottawa County Parks to purchase 188 acres of the property. The Land Conservancy purchased the remaining 157 acres in the summer of 2018 by securing a loan from The Conservation Fund, a national organization specializing in low-interest loans for conservation projects. In the year before the second phase of acquisition the Land Conservancy of West Michigan leased its 157 acres to Ottawa County Parks for management, so the park could open to the public.

“Ottawa Sands was an incredible opportunity, and all parties had to act quickly to secure its protection,” said Land Conservancy Executive Director Joe Engel. “We saw the immense value in working with Ottawa County Parks to protect this remarkable piece of property and are very grateful that the community stepped up to make this happen.”

Ottawa Sands is the “final piece of a puzzle” of a corridor of publicly owned land stretching from Muskegon County to Grand Haven.

Ottawa County Parks – Volunteer Spotlight

Linda Anderson

lindaandersonThe Ottawa County Parks & Recreation Commission is lucky to have a dedicated volunteer base. This quarter we are recognizing Linda Anderson for her excellent work at the Nature Center.

Linda is a skilled master naturalist and master gardener who helped park staff do some necessary maintenance on the overgrown garden areas in front of the facility. Linda began planning in December 2018 and since has:

• Mulched and composted
• Identified the plants that were growing in the area
• Removed weeds and over-aggressive plants
• Re-arranged for aesthetics (i.e. taller plants in the back)
• Selected and planted new species
• Created a catalog of native plants
• Created signage for the garden

”What is most special to me about working on the native gardens is seeing the plants thrive and all the insects and critters among them. I also enjoy trying to figure out what is what since I didn’t plant the gardens.”

Her advice to those looking to start their own native garden (and we hope you do!) is to remember that like all gardens, native ones need maintenance. Here are some of her tips:

• Dead-head early flowers to limit plants the next year
• Leave plants standing over winter to provide insects homes to survive, but clean up debris in the spring (when the temperature is over 50°)
• Don’t be upset if something dies—some plants do well, others won’t. Don’t be afraid to pull and/or move plants.
• Plant the right plant in the right spot: sunny versus shade, dry versus wet conditions, sand versus clay soil.

Welcoming the new Ottawa County Parks & Recreation Director

shamblinfamilyOttawa County welcomed a new Parks Director to the team in June. Jason Shamblin, his wife Allison and three children, Grayson, Griffin and Madelyn officially relocated to Ferrysburg over the summer.

The Shamblin Family previously vacationed in the area and it was during a visit they decided that West Michigan was a place they could call home. “During my first visit to Ottawa County, I was amazed by diversity of natural resources here, as well as the public support of the parks that is apparent by the quality of the parks.”

Ottawa Sands Acquisition Update

Click to view full-sized image.

This summer, Ottawa County Parks was awarded a $3.82 million grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) to complete the acquisition of Ottawa Sands. This grant, along with $200,000 of privately-raised funds by the Land Conservancy of West Michigan, funded the second phase of property acquisition.

The first phase of acquisition was made possible by a $4.2 million grant from the MNRTF in 2018 which was used to purchase just over half of the property. The Land Conservancy purchased the remaining land by securing a loan from The Conservation Fund and leased its 157 acres to Ottawa County Parks for management, so the park could open to the public in 2018.

We are so excited to celebrate the acquisition of this property and invite you to join us for a special event.

Ottawa Beach Marina, Kayak Launch, and Park Township Plaza Dedication Event

marinacrowdThank you to everyone who joined us for the Ottawa Beach Marina, Kayak Launch, and Park Township Plaza dedication event in Holland in August! Many of our grant partners were in attendance and were impressed with the turnout. The marina will be open until October 31, 2019, with transient slips available to reserve online: michigan.gov/harbors

Event photos by Mike Lozon; ribbon cutting photo by Linda Anderson

Ottawa Sands Acquisition Update & Celebration Announcement

On July 25, Ottawa County Parks completed the acquisition of the Ottawa Sands property in Ferrysburg, MI

This summer, Ottawa County Parks received a $3.82 million grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund Board to complete the acquisition of the Ottawa Sands. This grant, along with $200,000 of privately-raised funds by the Land Conservancy of West Michigan, funded the second phase of property acquisition.

The first phase of acquisition was made possible by a $4.2 million grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) in 2018 and allowed Ottawa County Parks to purchase 188 acres of the property. The Land Conservancy purchased the remaining 157 acres in the summer of 2018 by securing a loan from The Conservation Fund, a national organization specializing in low-interest loans for conservation projects. In the year before the second phase of acquisition the Land Conservancy of West Michigan leased its 157 acres to Ottawa County Parks for management, so the park could open to the public.

“Ottawa Sands was an incredible opportunity, and all parties had to act quickly to secure its protection,” said Land Conservancy Executive Director Joe Engel. “We saw the immense value in working with Ottawa County Parks to protect this remarkable piece of property and are very grateful that the community stepped up to make this happen.”

“Being able to close on this property in my first month with Ottawa County Parks was incredibly exciting. Ottawa Sands is clearly special to our community and to the Trust Fund,” said Jason Shamblin, Ottawa County Parks Director. “To receive $8 million in grant funding and over $200,000 in private donations speaks for itself.”

“The Trust Fund grants were critical to the success of this project, and the outstanding support from the community was integral in securing them,” Engel said. “West Michigan stepped up for Ottawa Sands, and we have this stunning new park to show for it.”

Thanks to strong support from the community, The Land Conservancy of West Michigan exceeded its initial fundraising goal, raising nearly $400,000 to secure Ottawa Sands. Half of the funds were used to offset the MNRTF grant and the other half covered expenses related to the loan.

Additional support for this project came from Ottawa Sand Company; Loutit Foundation; Ottawa County Parks Foundation; J.A. Woollam Foundation; the North Bank Communities Fund, Greatest Needs Fund, Environment Fund and the William T. and Shirley A. Baker Fund of the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation; and many generous donors.

Ottawa County Parks and the Land Conservancy of West Michigan is celebrating this monumental acquisition with a special event on Tuesday, October 15 from 4:30-6:30 pm.

The evening will include naturalist-led hikes and property tours beginning at 4:30 pm and 6 pm. A short ceremony will begin at 5:30 pm. Light refreshments will be provided. This is an outdoor event, be sure to dress for the weather.

Pilot Project in Holland Aims to Help get People Outside Using Nature Prescriptions

ocparksPark Rx America is a new platform available to Holland-area doctors used to prescribe patients with time outdoors at a park that is accessible and convenient.

Ottawa County Parks, along with the City of Holland, Holland Charter Township, Park Township, Laketown Township, and the Outdoor Discovery Center are partnering with a non-profit organization, Park Rx America, and the Holland Hospital Physical Hospital Organization (PHO) to bring nature prescriptions to patients. Leading this pilot project is Dr. Beth Peter MD whose background is in family medicine.

streamGo get some fresh air is advice that’s been given for years. Intuitively, many people know that fresh air and sunshine can make you feel better, but in the past there hasn’t been much science to back that up. That is changing.

A number of recent evidentiary studies are uncovering the science behind the healing power of nature. Researchers are finding that time spent outdoors can have many positive, measurable outcomes such as: reduced stress, improved sleep, lower blood pressure, and increased social connectedness. (A full list of findings can be found here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5744722/).

beachAt the same time humans are spending more time inside and in front of screens and other studies beg the question: Why is our culture so stressed?

“What those researchers are finding is that we were designed to be healthier, to exercise more and to eat more plants,” says Dr. Peter. “Our brains are developed for sunshine and fresh air.”

Park Rx America is a platform physicians can use to get their patients outdoors more often and create healthier habits. It contains a database of area parks that includes information to help doctors prescribe a park that will be the right fit for a patient. “Park Rx America will be helpful to patients and doctors because we don’t always know what’s out there,” said Dr. Peter. “It can also help answer important questions like ‘are there accessible pathways and bathrooms’? Or, ‘are dogs allowed?’”

Once doctors find the right park, they can create a prescription for their patient. Individuals will receive text reminders to visit their prescribed park and are able to check in when they arrive. They can also opt-in to answer questions about how they are feeling after their time outside. After the initial prescription is filled, the hope is that people keep coming back and perhaps begin to explore new places.

“The PHO is always searching for resources we can give our physicians to help them motivate their patients to make important habit changes so they are healthier, feel better, and are less stressed,” said Dr. Peter. “Park Rx America is one we’re really excited about.”

231 River Run • 4MI • 10K • October 26, 2019

Register

If you haven’t already, register now for the 2019 231 River Run on October 26. 📋 The 10K run and 4 mile run/walk make the event attainable for every fitness level. The If you are running a fall half or marathon, this is a great way to take it easy and flush out those legs. Space is limited. Be sure to register before we sell out. You can view how many spaces are left on the registration link. (At this time, about 80 spots remain.) If you prefer, sign up with this Printable Registration form. And, if you forgot whether or not you registered, you can look it up.

Free Walking Program in Ottawa and Allegan Counties

topbannerParks & Public Health team up to offer Step it Up! Walking Program free in Ottawa & Allegan counties

Step it Up! is free, 8-week program is designed by Ottawa County Parks & the Department of Public Health to help participants get active and visit new parks. All levels of fitness welcome!

Participants will be able to track their steps and activity online, as well as monitor their progress throughout the challenge. Each week, participants who track their activity are eligible for incentive prizes.

walkingtrailIn order to help participants stay active throughout the program there are weekly guided walks, with varying pace groups, offered for free in both Ottawa and Allegan County Parks. New this year: group walks in Ottawa County will also include a short, body weight strength training program prior to the walk with the help of Cari Draft from EcoTrek Fitness, the Tri-Cities Family YMCA, and Jessie Riley from the Four Pointes Center for Successful Aging.kayaks

To encourage participants to discover new recreational activities, the program offers opportunities to try kayaking, biking, orienteering, disc golf, and a thru-hike. These activities and necessary equipment are free-of-charge to registered participants who are recording their activity.bottombanner

New Park Property – Stearns Creek

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February 26, 2019

parkproperty

The Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Commission and Ottawa County Parks Foundation reached an important landmark today in its effort to create a new ecologically important park along the Grand River Greenway.

Agreements were reached with three landowners to sell 118 acres of land in Robinson Township at the south end of Stearns Bayou. This land includes 6,350 feet of frontage along Stearns Creek and will protect nearly 27 acres of high quality wetland. The acquisition helps accomplish the goal of adding 700 acres of park land to the  Grand River Greenway over the next five years; a donation to the campaign is a key part of the funding for the purchase.

The Grand River Greenway Campaign Committee is part of the Parks Foundation and is co-chaired by Peter Secchia, Monica Verplank, and Samantha Verplank.

The purchases are expected to be completed in March and are funded by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP) grant, a Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant, and a gift from the estate of John J. Helstrom. In honor of the gift, the new park will feature the Helstrom Family Trail System.

“Land acquisition is a priority for completing the Greenway and for the Parks Foundation,” said Parks Commission President and Foundation Board Member David VanGinhoven.” Donations like the one from the John J. Helstrom estate are so important to helping the County Parks protect critical properties and have an impact that goes well beyond the amount given, because they can leverage other public funding sources. In this case, the impact of the gift was multiplied over tenfold.”