Ottawa County Parks & Recreation
Outdoors Ottawa County Spring 2013
Volunteer Program Exceeds Expectations!In 2012 Ottawa County Parks and Recreation launched a formal volunteer program. The five year program plan included a goal of reaching 10,000 volunteer hours by 2017. Because of the wonderful culture of volunteerism in our community, we reached that goal in the first year! This was in large part thanks to the profound contributions of the Grand River Greenway Committee (GRGC). These volunteers took a year of their life to engage the community in the parks along the Grand River through fun, unique events. This small group of dedicated volunteers, led by Marjie Viveen, contributed over 4000 hours throughout 2012! Thank you to GRGC and all of those who cared enough for their parks to give of themselves.
Stewardship WorkdaysJoin us as we battle garlic mustard, a threatening and invasive plant.
- Tunnel Park: Thursday, May 2 at 7-8:30pm. Meet in the parking lot near the rest rooms.
- Hager Park: Saturday, May 4 at 10-12pm. Meet in the Picnic Building lot (last building on right).
- Mt. Pisgah: Saturday, May 18 at 10-12pm. Meet in Black Lake Boardwalk East parking lot.
Bring work gloves, insect repellent and appropriate outdoor gear. Drinking water and snacks will be provided. Advance registration is not required. All ages are welcome; however, those under age 16 must be supervised by an adult. Cancelled if raining. Call 616-738-4811 for details.
Park StewardshipThe Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Commission has a long history of conserving high quality natural lands. We take the stewardship of our properties seriously. This is evident by the resources dedicated to the protection and improvement of the natural features on our lands. Sometimes this results in making decisions that may be contentious but are always intended to be what is best for the long-term health of the property.
Humans are intimately tied to our natural resources. As such, we have altered much of our environment. Letting nature “take its course” can result in a devastating overpopulation of deer or the death of a forest. This year we used sound conservation science to direct several stewardship projects. In addition to the removal of invasive species, we began a deer management program at North Ottawa Dunes and also managing the red pine plantation at Riley Trails to improve the quality of those parks’ natural features.
Ottawa County’s goal is to manage our parks to be healthy, vibrant ecosystems that are also aesthetically pleasing and safe. We hope visitors, now and in future generations, will be able to enjoy the positive changes that result from our management.
Commission & Staffing UpdatesParks Commission officers for 2013 are Bobbi Jones Sabine as President, David VanGinhoven as Vice-President and Phil Kuyers as Secretary. New on the ten member Commission in 2013 include Joe Bush, the County’s new Water Resources Commissioner, and Tom Elhart representing the Ottawa County Road Commission.
At its December, meeting the Parks Commission recognized and thanked Chip Francke for his 14 years of service as Coordinator of Interpretive and Information Services. Parks Naturalist, Kristen Hintz, was promoted to the position, and the Commission welcomes Curtis Dykstra who was recently selected to replace Hintz as Park Naturalist. Also, the Parks Commission welcomes Shannon Felgner as Communications Manager, a new position shared with the County Administrator’s office
Park Property UpdatesGrand River Ravines Master Plan: The Parks Commission is expected to approve a master plan for the 187 acre Grand River Ravines Park at its February meeting. Approval of the plan will culminate a six month public planning process led by parks staff. The master plan recognizes the significance and fragility of the site’s unique natural features, most notably the deep ravines that run through the property and adjoining lands. Key aspects of the proposed master plan include:
- Entrances off 42nd Avenue (north) and Fillmore Street (south). The north entrance drive will extend to the river and be constructed through the middle of the open farm fields which were recently planted with native grasses and wildflowers.
- Portions of the existing driveway east of the north entrance will become part of the paved, multi-use Grand River Greenway Trail, which is envisioned to eventually extend east to Grand Rapids and west to Grand Haven.
- Picnic sites will be developed in several locations along the north entrance drive, near the river and at the south entrance.
- The riverfront house will be renovated for park programs, public gatherings, interpretive displays, restrooms and rentals.
- Hiking trails will extend through the site with the potential to link to trails on adjoining GVSU land in the future.
- An off-leash dog park with two large four to seven acre fenced areas will be developed at the south entrance.
- Although further study is needed, the plan allows for a multiple station zip-line running from the renovated barn at the south entrance to the riverfront.
The proposed master plan can be viewed on the parks website. Following approval of the plan, the Parks Commission intends to submit a grant proposal on April 1 to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund for assistance in funding a first phase improvement project in 2014.
Tunnel Park: The popular playground that connects with the dune climb was updated with new equipment in the fall.
Upper Macatawa Natural Area: Planning and design work continue for a 2.5 - mile pathway through the Upper Macatawa Natural Area, linking the Fred Meijer Kenowa Trail with an existing township bike path along Adams Street. If successful in securing federal transportation enhancement funding through the Michigan Department of Transportation, the project could be bid and constructed in 2013. A first phase project, including over two miles of mountain bike trails through the wooded ravines, is set to open in the spring.
Grand River Open Space: Entry drive improvements, parking area, information kiosk and a rustic toilet were installed at this site located off Linden Drive in Tallmadge Township. A grant was approved by the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) to add 57 acres to this 233-acre open space.
Canoe & Kayak Launches: A grant to the MNRTF was approved, funding two universally accessible canoe and kayak launches at Connor Bayou and Grand River Park.
Notes from the Friends of Ottawa County Parks:
Aboard!Save the date of May 16 for another scenic, informative excursion aboard the Grand Lady Paddlewheel boat. Speakers will acquaint you with the special features and landmarks of the Grand River. You'll enjoy time on the water in a peaceful setting, viewing wildlife along the river corridor. Two trips are being offered: 1:30pm, and 4pm at $10/person. Reserve your spot by accessing the Friends website at www.friendsofocp.org. Rain or shine, don't miss this delightful event!
A Tribute to Chip FranckeIn December, Coordinator of Interpretive and Information Services, Chip Francke, made a transition from the Nature Education Center to pursue other interests. Because of his significant influence in the formation of the Friends of Ottawa County Parks and strategic contributions to the vision of the parks and nature education, Friends is dedicating a bench to Chip to be placed at the Nature Education Center. Thank you, Chip, for your years of dedication, expertise and friendship!
Friends of Ottawa County Parks is a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting people with nature, recreation, and community by partnering with Ottawa County Parks. Learn more and find out how you can join at www.friendsofocp.org.
Parks Administration Office
12220 Fillmore St.
West Olive, MI 49460
8:00am - 5:00pm
Fax: (616) 738-4812
(888) 731-1001 ext.4810
General Park Hours*March 1 - October 15
7:00am - 10:00pm
October 16 - February 28
7:00am - 8:00pm