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Ottawa Sands park to open Oct. 15

Alexander Sinn • Aug 27, 2018 at 12:00 PM

Just in time for fall colors and cool temperatures, the Ottawa Sands recreational park will open to the public Oct. 15.

The 345-acre property is located between green space owned by the cities of Grand Haven and Ferrysburg and the county’s North Ottawa Dunes.

Ottawa County was approached by the land owner, Ottawa Sand Co., in the fall of 2017, and the county parks department jumped on the opportunity to get last-minute grant funding.

“We feel so lucky that everything came together,” county parks spokeswoman Jessica VanGinhoven said. “There were so many moving pieces in acquiring the property. Everything fell into place to make this happen.”

Ottawa County Parks acquired funding from Michigan’s Natural Resources Trust Fund Board for $4.2 million to purchase half of the property. The Land Conservancy of West Michigan secured a loan for $4 million to purchase the remainder, which it will sell to the county once funding is acquired, likely later this year.

The property includes forested dunes, 5,585 feet of riverfront land with wetlands and a roughly 2-mile natural surface trail around an 80-acre inland lake.

County employees are currently marking out the trail that wraps around the lake, and clearing remnants of the former mining operation. Old boating docks on the river will likely be closed to the public.

Catch-and-release fishing will be permitted on the lake in October, but no use of live bait. Fishing will have to happen from shore, as swimming and boating opportunities will have to wait for further studying of the property.

The lake is around 50 feet deep and hosts a variety of fish species, VanGinhoven said, including bass, bluegill, walleye and perch.

“The lake is a very exciting feature,” she said. “It is pristine. We’ve heard there are some pretty big fish. We have not found any invasive species in the lake at all.”

Other possibilities exist for the park’s future, including connecting trails from Hoffmaster State Park to the north and the nearby Kitchel-Lindquist Dunes Preserve to the south. There may also be an opportunity to create a campground, VanGinhoven added.

There will be no entry fees when the park opens.

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