Ottawa County News

2021 Coffee with the Birds

Coffee with the Birds & Mug Club We may not be able to meet in-person for Coffee with the Birds, but save-the-date for December 5, and we’ll share details with you: bit.

2021 Ottawa County Parks, Recreation, & Open Space Plan

Available for public comment A draft of the 2021 longe-range parks plan is ready for review. A public meeting is planned for the December 2 Parks Commission meeting (approximate time TBA; meeting begins at 3 pm). Public comment will be available via Zoom; a link to the meeting will be available on the day of the meeting at miOttawa.org/parks. Comments may also be sent via email or mailed to the Parks administrative office: 12220 Fillmore St.
Parks Bingo Careerline Tech Center’s futurePREP’d program and Ottawa County Parks & Recreation are hosting a series of events to encourage students and their families to get outside this fall. This will be the kick-off event for Hope College’s Little Read Lakeshore program, an annual, month-long community-wide reading program. The community focus book is “Galapagos Girl” that tells the story of how a young girl connects to the natural world while living on the Galapagos islands.
Initial public input events for the Ottawa Sands Master Plan are complete, as well as natural features inventory and analysis of plant communities, wetlands, and herpetology. Based on this input, our consultant has developed concepts and options for park development that you can now view online! miOttawa.org/ottawasands Public Input There are two concepts, as well as supporting documents. After reviewing the plans, we welcome you to share feedback with us. Please send your comments via email by October 20, 2020.
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New Parks Commissioner Lukas Hill

Lukas Hill is a graduate of Northern Michigan University and is Certified Planner through the American Institute of Certified Planners. Hill has lived in Ottawa County for the last 15 years with his family while working for Spring Lake Township as their Community Development Director. Part of his role with the Township is to help develop park and recreation plans and coordinate associated grants with various state and local agencies.
Park Closure Information Please note that North Ottawa Dunes & Ottawa Sands will be CLOSED for an annual wildlife management hunt on Friday, November 20 through Monday, November 23, 2020. Access is by permission only; those in the parks without permission will be ticketed. The parks will re-open Tuesday, November 24. Hunters are chosen each year by lottery – learn more here. Hunting lotteries open in August and hunters are chosen in October.

mi Ottawa Sands

Get involved in the Ottawa Sands Master Plan! Update: September 18, 2020 Initial public input events for the Ottawa Sands Master Plan have now been completed, as well as natural features inventory and analysis of plant communities, wetlands, and herpetology. You can review them here.
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Special Parks Commission Meeting for 2021 Parks Plan

A special Parks Commission meeting will be held on Wednesday, September 23 from 3-5 pm to review planning documents for the 2021 Ottawa County Parks, Recreation, and Open Space Plan. The 2021 plan is intended to guide Ottawa County with its parks, recreation, and open space planning and development efforts for the next five- to ten-year period.
Over the summer, a Holland Youth Connections crew worked at Paw Paw Park performing much needed trail maintenance, as well as invasive plant and litter removal. Later in the summer, staff discovered a patch of buckthorn that returned after treatment and had gone to fruit. The crew was able to remove the woody invasives before they propagated. We were thrilled to be able to support this program for a sixth year.

Public Observatory

2020 Update: The Shoreline Amateur Astronomical Association (SAAA) has reached their fundraising goal to construct an observatory at Hemlock Crossing County Park! We anticipate a ground breaking ceremony in 2021. More information coming soon. May 28, 2018: The SAAA is raising funds for West Michigan’s first public observatory! The $65,000 observatory is planned for Hemlock Crossing County Park, near the Nature Education Center.

Riverside Restoration Update

September 2020 – Update Culverts to Improve Access & Connectivity The addition of two new culverts to improve fish habitat and user access is underway (learn more about why this work is important below). This work was funded by the DNR’s Aquatic Habitat Grant program and matched by funds from our millage. Hundreds of feet of shoreline have been armored, but the work paused due to COVID. It will continue after the culvert construction.

2020 Homeschool Nature Programs

Are you homeschooling and looking for a way to get your kids outside and exploring, engaging, and discovering in nature? Learn more about the EARLY Explorers and ECO Explorers programs below! “I am very impressed with everything my child learned.

Become an Outdoor Explorer

New this year! We are offering a program designed for students who are participating in remote/virtual learning (or any child who needs an extra dose of nature!) because time spent outdoors is crucial to our health and well-being. The Outdoor Explorer Program provides fun recreational opportunities like hiking, biking, and kayaking throughout the park system for children between the ages of 4-14. All experiences will take place outdoors and with small groups.
Paw Paw Park is transforming from a highly manicured golf course to a more natural area. We continue to manage the ups and downs of changing from turf grass to diverse ecosystems. In areas where invasive species currently dominate native plants, we will be ”starting over” with the goal of establishing native grasses that can be managed long-term.

Hunting in Ottawa County Parks

Hunting is an important part of managing natural lands and parks in Ottawa County. Biodiversity is dependent on a delicate balance of predator and prey populations. In Michigan, this balance has been altered by a significant loss of predators, like wolves. As a result, some prey populations, such as deer, do not have the natural checks and balances needed to prevent overpopulation.