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Ottawa County Parks & Recreation


Photo: Grand Ravines by Kevin Povenz

Outdoors Ottawa County Fall 2014

Grand River Open Space Expands

In June, the Parks Commission purchased 45.7 acres of riverfront property from the Jessie Zemaitis Trust to expand Grand River Open Space in Tallmadge Township. The purchase
expanded the site to 279 acres with 1.5 miles of Grand River frontage. 

A grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund contributed $80,000 to the $194,225 purchase with the balance of funds from the county parks millage. The high-quality natural site will offer opportunities for hunting, fishing, hiking and other recreational pursuits. The property is located directly across the river from Grand Ravines and protects the view shed of a lodge planned for that location in 2015.

The purchase is part of Ottawa County Parks’ Grand River Greenway initiative, which preserves and protects key lands within the river corridor for enjoyment by people and provides a habitat corridor along the river for wildlife and birds.

An eagle on the nest in early spring.

Bald eagles prefer large tracts of natural land near water for nesting. A pair nested successfully at Grand Ravines for a number of years until their nest tree came down last winter. With an abundance of protected natural land to choose from within the Grand River corridor, the eagles elected to rebuild across the river on Grand River Open Space property where they raised three young this season.

Grand River Heritage Water Trail

More people are taking to the water to explore nature, exercise and enjoy time with friends and family. The recent rise in the popularity of

Ray Statema, neighbor and
Parks Commissioner,
stands below the new
nest tree at Grand River
Open Space.
Photo by L. Koets

kayaking is evident in Ottawa County with paddlers of all ages seeking places to enjoy their sport. In response, Ottawa County Parks is working to expand access to area rivers including the Macatawa, Pigeon and Grand. As its name implies, the Grand River is a special resource with a multitude of paddling opportunities. Ottawa County Parks has established the Grand River Heritage Water Trail as a way to promote access to the Grand River in Ottawa County. 

The Grand River Heritage Water Trail website provides information on parks and other places to access the river, natural features to be observed, and interesting historical points of interest to help explain the colorful and rich local history tied to the Grand River. Details provided include the facilities available at each access point, contact information for local outfitters and much more. Printable and interactive maps of the river for are helpful in planning an excursion.  

Kayaking or canoeing on the Grand is a great way to experience the many properties that have been preserved through the Grand River Greenway, a high priority initiative of Ottawa County Parks over the past fifteen years. Over 2,400 acres with 13 miles of shoreline are available for public access. Recently, universally accessible kayak and canoe launches have been installed at Connor Bayou and Eastmanville Bayou, with a third planned for Grand River Park. These floating launches provide an easy and enjoyable means of launching and retrieving kayaks and canoes for people of all abilities. 

Water trail signs with maps were recently installed at the universally accessible launch sites. Next steps for the water trail will involve adding signs at other river access points. Markers are also planned along the river to identify the boundaries of all park properties. Water trail merchandise is available for purchase at the Nature Education Center Gift Shop, including soft, ringspun cotton t-shirts and insulated Camelbak water bottles. Visit us at Hemlock Crossing Park. Then, go to miOttawa.org/parks and click on the water trail logo to learn more about the Grand River Heritage Water Trail and plan
your paddling adventure.

We had a beautiful afternoon at the
Connor Bayou Picnic &
Kayak Launch Dedication.
Thank you for joining us and the
Friends of Ottawa County Parks
on this fun-filled afternoon.

Place your orders for the Ottawa Conservation District's Fall Native Plant Sale!

October 2, 6-9PM, Hemlock Crossing. Pre-order native wildflowers and grasses online at Ottawa Conservation District now! Vern Stephens from Designs by Nature will present on native gardening. Immediately following, orders can be picked up and more purchases can be made. Exhibits, resources and staff will be available to answer questions.

Stewardship Workdays

Please join us. Many hands make light work!  Never volunteered before? No problem! Here's what you should know: Bring work gloves (preferably leather), insect repellent and appropriate outdoor gear. All necessary tools, drinking water and snacks will be provided. No preregistration is required. Ages 12 and up are welcome, however youth must be supervised by an adult. Cancelled if raining. Do you have more questions? Contact Melanie at616-738-4810 or mmanion@miottawa.org. See you there!

Seed Collection

Wow! The students form
Holland Youth Connections
Program worked over 1500 hours
this summer at Riley Trails
cleaning-up trails
and removing invasive species.
Thanks for a job well done!

Hemlock Crossing, Sunday, October 5, 2-4PM. Help collect and process seed from the plants in the short-grass prairie in front of the Nature Education Center. Seed will be used for restoration projects within other Ottawa County Parks properties.

Invasive Species Control

Crockery Creek Natural Area, Saturday, October 11, 10AM-Noon.
Grose Park, Saturday, October 18, 10AM-Noon.
Invasive trees, shrubs and vines can cause serious damage to wildlife habitat. They can also block recreational trails and scenic views. Help Ottawa County Parks fight these destroyers of diversity.

Do they do windows? The goats have done a great job cleaning up invasives at the parks.
These before (left) and after (right) photos were taken at Bur Oak Landing West.

News from Friends of Ottawa County Parks

The public is invited to the Friends’ Annual Membership Meeting and program on Wednesday, September 17. Acclaimed naturalist, Randy Baker, will provide a dramatic, interactive presentation called "Michigan Statehood & Beyond," bringing to life the forces and factors that shaped our unique state. As an added attraction, the Ottawa Shores Plein Air artists will have a number of their recent works on display, depicting scenes from many Ottawa County Parks. The event takes place at the Nature Education Center at Hemlock Crossing County Park located at 8115 West Olive Road, West Olive. Doors open at 6:30PM for enjoying the artwork and refreshments. Main program begins at 7PM. With support from many entities, the Parks broke ground on the final stretch of the Macatawa Greenway Trail at Upper Macatawa Natural Area. From left to right: Travis Williams-Macatawa Outdoor Discovery Center, Jim Holtrop-Board of Commissioners Chairman, Bobbi Sabine-Parks & Recreation Commission President, Brian Stauffer-Macatawa Greenway Committee and Mike Smith-Michigan Department of Transportation.

The Crockery Lake shoreline at Grose Park has been stabilized and restored. This quaint park in Chester Township is located in the panhandle of Northern Ottawa County.

The new Historic Ottawa Beach Waterfront Walkway boardwalk segment is under construction.  The 1,300 feet of path will link Black Lake Boardwalk East and West along Lake Macatawa offering scenic views, interpretive displays, sitting areas and bird spotting scopes.

Project Updates

With support from many entities, the Parks broke ground on the final stretch of the Macatawa Greenway Trail at Upper Macatawa Natural Area. From left to right: Travis Williams-Macatawa Outdoor Discovery Center, Jim Holtrop-Board of Commissioners Chairman, Bobbi Sabine-Parks & Recreation Commission President, Brian Stauffer-Macatawa Greenway Committee and Mike Smith-Michigan Department of Transportation.

The Crockery Lake shoreline at Grose Park has been stabilized and restored. This quaint park in Chester Township is located in the panhandle of Northern Ottawa County.

The new Historic Ottawa Beach Waterfront Walkway boardwalk segment is under construction.  The 1,300 feet of path will link Black Lake ,Boardwalk East and West along Lake Macatawa offering scenic views, interpretive displays, sitting areas
and bird spotting scopes.

Parks Administration Office

Room 267
12220 Fillmore St.
West Olive, MI 49460
Monday - Friday:
8:00am - 5:00pm
Phone: (616) 738-4810
Fax: (616) 738-4812
In Ottawa County:
(888) 731-1001 ext.4810

General Park Hours*

March 1 - October 15
7:00am - 10:00pm
October 16 - February 28
7:00am - 8:00pm
*Some parks close in winter or have hours that vary. Select each park for specific park hours.