Old photos sought for Rosy Mound plan

Alexander Sinn • Jan 18, 2019 at 11:00 AM

GRAND HAVEN TWP. — The dunes of West Michigan were once covered in abundant wildflowers, but a bloom in the deer population has caused much of that habitat to disappear. 

If you once snapped photos of that landscape decades ago, you could help preserve a changing ecosystem. 

Ottawa County Parks is seeking photos of the Rosy Mound Natural Area pre-1990, especially of spring wildflowers, to help understand how the site’s species composition has changed over time. 

Deer exclosures at sites like Rosy Mound demonstrate the impact of deer overpopulation on the dune ecosystem, according to Ottawa County Parks Communications Director Jessica VanGinhoven. Comparing the fenced-off exclosure to managed natural sites, she explained, shows the managed land ended up with far fewer plants and less diversity of plants.

Gathering a visual inventory will help with a management plan in the works, VanGinhoven said. 

“Many people who have lived in West Michigan before the deer populations increased recall dunes covered in trillium, which is not currently the case,” she said. “We have natural features inventories that document this, but a picture of the historical wildflower display would speak volumes.” 

Rosy Mound will be included in a system-wide, comprehensive plan to manage the parks and establish goals, according to county parks department Stewardship Supervisor Nealy Molhoek. 

“These plans will document the physical characteristics, natural features and any relevant history of parks properties,” she said. “It will also set clear goals for our vision for the future of the properties, along with our proposed strategies for these goals.” 

The county parks department’s Natural Resources Management team in 2011 created several informal plans for management, VanGinhoven said, but the team is now seeking a more in-depth outline. 

Ottawa County Parks Director John Scholtz is set to retire in June, and the department is seeking to have individual parks plans completed by then so that Scholtz can provide input. 

“We do not want to lose his vast knowledge of the natural features within our park properties,” VanGinhoven said. 

Contact [email protected] to share photos of wildflowers and other pre-1990 images of the Rosy Mound Natural Area. 

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