The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), Coastal Zone Management Program awarded a grant for a dune restoration project in Van Buren County at Syndicate Park. The grant funded planting dune grass, erecting fences and improving the multi-use trail to the beach from the end of Grand Avenue. The County continues to apply for grants to complete additional site work.
Preserve the Dunes worked with project partners to develop the education component of the project. The group provided guidance for an educational sign that will be posted on-site and also paid for the production of the sand dunes video. Preserve the Dunes’ donation of time and money helped leverage the MDEQ grant.
Van Buren County owns 25 acres in Syndicate Park, most of which is in critical dunes. Over the past few years, the Van Buren County Board of Commissioners established a committee and conducted studies to develop a recommendation for the future of county-owned land in Syndicate Park that: 1) recognizes the property’s unique features and the constraints and opportunities associated with these features; and 2) incorporates the public’s desires.
The main goal of this project was to restore a large critical dune complex and limit impacts from human use by providing managed public access and educational opportunities. The project area is adjacent to other protected dune areas, including North Point Conservation Area, a county-owned park protected by a conservation easement held by the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy. The 17 acre North Point Conservation Area has 330 feet of Lake Michigan beachfront and is adjacent to Van Buren State Park (400 acres with one mile of Lake Michigan shoreline). The project area is part of the world’s largest freshwater dune system, which stretches for miles along the eastern shores of Lake Michigan. Coastal sand dunes around the Great Lakes constitute vital and distinctive environments that support more unique species of plants, insects, and animals than any other ecosystem in the Great Lakes Basin.
For more information, visit http://www.swmpc.org/syndicatepark.asp.