Barrier Dunes Sanctuary

County: Muskegon Established: 2016 14 Acres
Features
  • Hiking
  • Scenic Vista
  • Sensitive Habitat
  • Water Feature
  • Wildlife Viewing
Amenities
  • Leashed Pets Allowed
  • Restrooms

At a Glance

  • Approximate Street Address: 6897 Ferry, Montague MI 49437
  • The narrow peninsula of duneland extends from the Lake Michigan shoreline east to the middle of Pierson Creek, once the natural outflow of White Lake and the White River. With more than 1,000 feet of pristine Lake Michigan shoreline and environmentally fragile barrier dunes, the Barrier Dunes Sanctuary is a great place for walking the beach, picnics, and wildlife viewing.
  • Trail length: No Trail (approximately 1 mile roundtrip from Medbery Park)

What to See

Barrier Dunes consists of more than 1,200 feet of pristine Lake Michigan shoreline and environmentally fragile barrier dunes. The naturally-vegetated shoreline of the Old Channel adds to the biotic diversity of the dune landscape and mink, deer, and turtles have been seen along the shoreline. Dunes rising from the lakeshore are predominantly vegetated with beach grass and sand reedgrass, along with little bluestem, with areas of open sand and scattered trees

Conservation Value

The area has been classified as “Critical Dunes” by the MDEQ. The natural shoreline and dune forest is important for migrating Monarch butterflies, and migratory and resident birds such as sandpipers, hawks, owls, and waterfowl resting and feeding offshore.

History

The Barrier Dunes Sanctuary spans a narrow peninsula of duneland that extends from the Lake Michigan shoreline east to the middle of Pierson Creek, once the natural outflow of White Lake and the White River. The area where visitors often park, at the Ferry Street road ending, also known as Lloyd’s Landing, was the original mouth of the White River on Lake Michigan.

This unusual landscape resulted from the construction in 1871, of a new White River channel less prone to the formation of sand bars. When the new pier was constructed, the water current in the old channel was reversed and dramatically reduced and now is the outflow of Pierson Creek to White Lake.

Prior to the acquisition of the property by White Lake Township, the proposed residential use of the 2-acre parcel would have included the development of a road that would bisect the length of the Sanctuary, dramatically impacting the natural resources and their enjoyment by the public. This threat was heightened in 2012, when amendments to the critical dune statute made it much easier for property owners to build homes and driveways on their property within critical dune areas.

The Land Conservancy worked with White River Township to permanently protect the 2 additional acres in 2016 and add it to Barrier Dunes Sanctuary. Funding for the addition was provided by more than 300 individuals and organizations, including grants from Alcoa Foundation, Carls Foundation, Community Foundation for Muskegon County, Consumers Energy Foundation, Frey Foundation, Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund and J.A. Woollam Foundation.

See our Barrier Dunes Sanctuary Addition Case Study for further information

Visitor Information

Road shoulder parking is available along the end of Ferry. Parking is also available at Medbery park (7340 Life Guard Road, Montague, MI) with access to Barrier Dunes by beach on foot.

Features
  • Hiking
  • Scenic Vista
  • Sensitive Habitat
  • Water Feature
  • Wildlife Viewing
Amenities
  • Leashed Pets Allowed
  • Restrooms

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