Dune decay concern is inconsistent

This summer, the community was all atwitter about Grand Haven City Council’s decision to ban the Coast Guard City USA sign from capping Dewey Hill.
Jan 14, 2014

One of the big reasons, they said, was because they didn’t want to see people stomping up and down the hill, degrading the dune grass and the natural environment.

While the decision was ultimately reversed and the sign was allowed to shine over the city and Coast Guard dignitaries for another year, city officials said they still wanted studies to be done to see how the sign placement would impact the dune.

Fast forward several months to an early January weekend, when countless community members were invited to visit Dewey Hill to help take down the Christmas Nativity scene adorning the side of the hill.

While we are all for community camaraderie and like to see people work together to get this Grand Haven icon up and down for the Christmas season, one thing is for certain — it appears that from the outside looking in, there is a double standard.

Where is the uproar about the community trampling all over the dune and causing erosion with the placement and removal of the Nativity scene? It seems like there would be just as much potential for harm from this activity as there would be with the Coast Guard USA sign.

And while some may argue that the winter cold leads to an overall different environment on the dune, there is some evidence that this might not be the case.

According to research, while frozen ground halts wind erosion due to sand being cemented to the ground by ice, this effect isn’t permanent.

With there being risks at all times of year, we urge the city of Grand Haven to develop a consistent message. Either the problem of dune erosion at Dewey Hill is an issue, or it isn’t.

Our hope is that all groups get the same message and our community isn’t left scratching their heads as to why some are allowed to walk all over the hill and others aren’t.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.



And what about all the deer traffic that is constantly on the dune? The land is part of a preserve and the deer are all over that area. Just last week, I was parked at the lower level of the Chamber/WGHN building and watched 6 deer slowly walk across the dune about halfway up.


Or all of the people who walk around up there and climb on the dune.

Former Grandhavenite

Perhaps the solution would be to allow displays on the TOP of Dewey Hill, but not further down between the top and the fountain. Installing and walking on those areas is what causes the erosion, not just taking the standard Kitchell Dunes path leading to the top and installing things on the reasonably flat ground up there. Once they start climbing around the steeper part and anchoring displays is when they run into problems.


To be clear, some objected to the sign because it could be construed to be tacky and unnecessary, and not due to the environmental impacts.

Also Former Grandhavenite has a very reasonable suggestion, but do not underestimate the power of Tradition (new or old) in the Tri-Cities!


So how are sand dunes supposed to be appreciated and enjoyed if nobody is allowed to walk on them or use them for any sort of recreational purpose? Perhaps we can set up telescopes at the foot of Washington Street and charge tourists to use them for a view of Dewey Hill? I understand concerns about erosion but there has to be some reasonable compromise and balance between hands off preservation and community use.

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