Dune Harbor Park

County: Muskegon Established: 2021 214 acres
Features
  • Hiking
  • Scenic Vista
  • Urban Greenspace
  • Water Feature
  • Wildlife Viewing

A park for Muskegon that’s close to everything, yet away from it all.

You did it! Thanks to the generous support of many donors, the Land Conservancy of West Michigan is excited to announce that we have reached our fundraising goal for the first phase of Dune Harbor Park. Your support has provided the funding necessary to open the southern 214 acres of the property to the public in spring of 2022. The funds you raised will also be used to help sustain the park in the future. 

December 2021 was a banner month for Dune Harbor Park. On December 1, 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. On December 16, Muskegon County officially closed on the southern portion, solidifying its future as a public natural space for the Muskegon community. We could not be more excited to bring the month to a close with the news of the successful completion of this campaign. 

We will join Muskegon County in celebrating the public opening of the property in spring of 2022. The northern portion of the Nugent Sand property remains in private ownership and closed to public access. Stay tuned for updates on the future of this park!

Thank you to all who supported this effort!

About the Property

The 377-acre Nugent Sand property is one of the largest, most unique natural landscapes in the region. The site of a former sand mine, it features hilly forested dunes, two large manmade lakes, and a stretch of beautiful Lake Michigan beach. The County is already working with the community to envision what it could become as Dune Harbor Park. Imagine a park that prioritizes access, recreation and conservation.

Public Benefit & Access

Ensuring that everyone has access to Dune Harbor Park is a top priority for Muskegon County as it pursues this project. With the property’s central location and the support of local groups and foundations, the County is working to make sure Dune Harbor Park’s restorative natural experiences are within reach for all.

Because the Dune Harbor Park property is in a highly populated area, it is accessible to many on foot and by bicycle. Muskegon Area Transit will soon offer a micro transit service that will be available for public shared ride transportation to the park. 

Muskegon County has met with the Disability Network of West Michigan to discuss the proposed development plan to review its accessibility and the future of the property and will continue that discussion during the master plan process.

Recreation

The sprawling property, with its diverse collection of environments, stands to offer abundant recreation opportunities. An early concept plan imagines over four miles of trails for hiking and cross-country skiing, access to both inland lakes for paddle sports, beach access to Lake Michigan and inland lakes, fishing piers, picnic areas, scenic overlooks, and a future camping area. These details will be solidified during the master planning process for the park, which the community will have an opportunity to help shape.

The natural features offer several opportunities for wildlife viewing, specifically on the trails surrounding both inland lakes. Designated trails and outlooks will control access to the protected dune area, while still fostering public access. As part of a master plan, the dune habitat will be reviewed to plan for long term sustainability and protection.

Conservation Value

The Lake Michigan shoreline is home to a globally rare collection of ecosystems that support biodiverse communities of plants, insects, and wildlife. Muskegon County’s acquisition of the Nugent Sand property would ensure this vital landscape is protected forever. 

The property sits within the coastal zone boundary and includes 1,662 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline, critical dune land, and is home to many native plants and animals. 

The landscape 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.

Images courtesy Kristine Tyler and Land Conservancy of West Michigan

Nearby Natural Areas

Anderson Woods Nature Preserve

Anderson Woods Nature Preserve is a forested natural area near Muskegon, Whitehall, and Montague. A wheelchair and stroller accessible trail system leads visitors through a towering oak and white pine forest, interspersed with glades lush with blueberry and wintergreen.

Read More

Flower Creek Dunes Nature Preserve

Located in northern Muskegon County, Flower Creek Dunes Nature Preserve protects unspoiled dune habitat along the lakeshore. A boardwalk leading to an overlook provides panoramic views of Lake Michigan and the surrounding dunes.

Read More

Meinert County Park

There are no trails leading through this rugged dune property. Steep, forested ridges are interwoven with narrow valleys. Tucked in the dune hills are wetlands and a small pond.

Read More
Features
  • Hiking
  • Scenic Vista
  • Urban Greenspace
  • Water Feature
  • Wildlife Viewing

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