WUOMFM

Efforts to conserve stretch of Lake Michigan shore on verge of success

Apr 7, 2016

Credit Courtesy Photograph / Land Conservancy of West Michigan

A 25-year struggle is almost over to save two acres of beach and dunes from development in Muskegon County.

The property will expand the Barrier Dunes Sanctuary and add 204 feet of undeveloped Lake Michigan shoreline to the existing 1,100 feet of public land, bringing the total length to one-quarter mile.

The land had been slated for a road and home construction.

Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation this week to allocate $300,000 to help buy the scenic two-acre parcel. 

The Land Conservancy of West Michigan has raised about $700,000 for the rest of the purchase price from White River Township, six foundations, and 350 private donors, according to Vaughn Maatman, the Conservancy's executive director. 

"Saving that space for wildlife, particularly migratory birds, will be the end product," said Maatman.

Maatman said he expects the closing on the property to take place in May.

"Anytime that we can protect a stretch of our very precious Lake Michigan shoreline, that is just huge," he said. 

The state funds for the purchase are part of the almost $20 million in Michigan Natural Resource Trust Fund acquisition grants authorized by the recently signed law, along with $8 million  earmarked for recreational development grants.  The trust fund was established in 1976 to support the public acquisition of land for natural resource protection and for outdoor recreation.