Featured Volunteer Workday: Grand Haven High School at Ottawa Sands
Last month, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, parks staff hosted a volunteer workday for a group of students from Grand Haven High School at Ottawa Sands. This workday was part of GHHS’s ‘Day On Challenge’, where students were encouraged to spend the day volunteering in the community. Stewardship Supervisor, Nealy Molhoek led the students, along with several other volunteers, in removing woody invasive species.
As in many Ottawa County Parks, volunteers are so important to the restoration work occurring at Ottawa Sands. Many volunteers have donated their time and efforts towards the restoration of this property. Over the last year, the majority of volunteer work has been centered around tasks that will improve the resiliency of the ecosystems found at Ottawa Sands: planting native species, surveying for pitcher’s thistle, and removing invasive honeysuckle, spotted knapweed, autumn olive, and tree of heaven. Removing invasive species is a crucial part of the restoration process, and is made possible largely due to the generosity of our volunteers.
Decreasing populations of invasive species and increasing native populations leads to increased biodiversity, improved wildlife habitat, improved soil health, and many other biological and economic benefits. At Ottawa Sands, another benefit of removing invasive species is improved access to the wetland restoration area. Thanks to our volunteers who removed dense areas of woody invasive species, the cost of accessing this site will be reduced, increasing the funds available for the wetland restoration itself.
We are excited for the restoration projects happening at Ottawa Sands but are also aware that some improvements, like decreasing invasive species, require years of dedication. By training and investing in our volunteers, we lay a foundation for the continued protection of our environment. Our hope is that volunteers take the practical skills they learn and apply them to their own land, creating a positive impact that extends beyond our parks and improves resiliency throughout the landscape. If you would like to hear more about how you can make a difference, please apply online to become a volunteer. You can also register for upcoming public volunteer opportunities this spring via our volunteer workday calendar.
Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Commission would like to extend our thanks to the volunteers from GHSP, who recently made a donation of stewardship supplies to the Parks Department. These valuable supplies will be used by staff and volunteers towards continuing our fight against invasive species. Thank you GHSP for your outstanding dedication to restoring the health of our natural spaces!