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.
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.
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.