The site of a former sand mine, Dune Harbor Park Muskegon County features hilly forested dunes and a large manmade lake. Located on the Lake Michigan shoreline, the landscape is home to a globally rare collection of ecosystems that support biodiverse communities of plants, insects, and wildlife.
The park encompasses acres of critical dune and forested dune areas. Although mined for many years, the ecosystem has been adapting. Open sand areas created by mining have been replanted with beach grass and native plants and vegetation have grown in key areas to foster sand accumulation, helping the dunes continue a natural life cycle. Marram grass, milkweed, horsemint, and juniper shrubs are found throughout the property. In the forested areas, white pine, red oak, red maple, beech, black cherry, and sassafras grow strong.
A wide variety of wildlife, including white-tailed deer, coyotes, foxes, and rabbits, inhabit the property. Lake Michigan’s strong coastal winds make the area an attractive spot for migratory songbirds and waterfowl along the Lake Michigan Flyway. Bald eagles are often spotted within the property. Monarch butterflies are prevalent in the area due to the abundant milkweed. Perch, bass, and bluegill populate the South Lake.
In May 2021, the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund awarded a $5 million grant to Muskegon County for its acquisition of the southern 214 acres of the Nugent Sand property. During that summer, the Land Conservancy and the local community raised over $500,000 to support the opening the park to the public. On December 16, Muskegon County officially closed on those 214 acres, solidifying its future as a public natural space for the Muskegon community.
On December 1, 2021 the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund recommended a second $5 million grant to fund Muskegon County’s acquisition of the northern portion of the property. The Michigan Legislature will decide on the recommendation in spring 2022.
This project would not be possible without a generous donation from the landowner Robert Chandonnet and his daughters Suzette Colon and Deanna Chandonnet.