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. The shoreline restoration was funded through the Sustain Our Great Lakes program, awarded via the US Fish & Wildlife Service.
March 2020 – Update
Armoring the Shoreline
Using a Sustain Our Great Lakes Program grant through the National Fish & Wildlife Service, we have completed hundreds of feet of shoreline erosion control at Riverside Park.
The grant was awarded to cover 500′ of shoreline work, but due to high water levels nearly 850′ of shoreline has eroded. Fortunately, the project will be completed under budget, and there is a possibility that we will be able to armor an additional 300′ of shoreline using grant funds. The project will be complete by next spring.
How do you armor shoreline against wave action?
- Cut trees with their root ball are dropped into the water
- Woody debris, fill, and live stems of willow and dogwood trees are added
- The trees and debris are covered with erosion fabric and seeded with native wetland plants the cut trees (on land)
An Aquatic Habitat Grant, awarded by the DNR in 2018 and matched by funds from our millage, will be used to improve fish connectivity between Kirby Bayou and the Grand River, as well as user access to the back parking lot at Riverside Park. Construction is planned for next spring. Learn more about the importance of bayou connectivity below.
Why is restoration needed at Riverside Park?
Riverside Park in Grand Haven is one of Ottawa County’s oldest parks. It was owned by the Ottawa County Road Commission before the Parks Department existed. It has a long history of boating and fishing that continues today, but after many years of recreation, areas can become degraded and require special attention. Unintentionally, visitors may bring in invasive species or cause erosion. Ottawa County Parks is manages the delicate balance between recreation and natural resource management to ensure our properties are sustainable, allowing for many more generations of recreation.
Ottawa County Parks was recently awarded both state and federal grant funds to improve wildlife habitat and recreation at Riverside Park. The Aquatic Habitat Grant program through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources approved funds for a two-phased project will improve aquatic habitat quality and fish passage along the Grand River by restoring the connection between Kirby Bayou and the river.
“Northern Pike is a great sports fish that’s fun to catch and Riverside Park is a potential spawning ground, although there are two current issues with the site,” said Natural Resources Management Supervisor, Melanie Manion. “The first is the connection between the Grand River and Kirby Bayou. In years of low water levels the culverts were higher than the water, cutting it off from the river. This resulted in low oxygen levels and a fish kill. We also found that the oxygen and fish aren’t moving between the river and the bayou like they should. Our state grant will help us improve habitat for pike and more.”
In the first phase of the project, a perched culvert that currently impedes fish passage will be replaced with a larger culvert that will be sunk and lined with natural material. A similar culvert will be installed on the east side of the park to re-connect the bayou. “Basically, what we’re going to do is replace culverts so they’re larger and lower, so the two water bodies are always connected regardless of water levels.” In addition to improving habitat, it will also ease frustrations of park visitors. “Regular visitors to Riverside know that the road near this bayou is frequently closed due to flooding. These culverts will help.”
Ottawa County Parks was also recently awarded a National Fish & Wildlife Sustain our Great Lakes grant to cover the cost of the second phase of this project: stabilizing 500′ of riverbank using natural shoreline techniques. Stabilization of the river bank will reduce the sediment load into the river.
“Before there was a boat launch, visitors to the park historically drove their boats and cars right to the river’s edge. Then there were many years of mowing right up to the shoreline, unintentionally removing native vegetation that holds the bank in place. All of these factors cause erosion,” said Manion.
“We have changed our management practices and stopped mowing, and federal funds will help us add new erosion measures and vegetation to create habit for fish, turtles, birds and other wildlife. All of this will help stabilize the shoreline so we stop losing soil into the Grand River.”