Ottawa County Parks & Recreation


Outdoors Ottawa County Summer 2015

Don't Miss our Special Summer Events!

Weaver House Tours

June 21, July 19, August 16, 1:00 - 3:00 PM

Take a free tour of the beautiful, historic Weaver House. The Weaver House is located within Pine Bend Park (15400 Polk Street, West Olive).

Macatawa Greenway Trail Dedication

June 25, 4:00 - 8:00 PM

Join us at the Upper Macatawa Natural Area for a dedication of the Macatawa Greenway Trail. The newly completed section of paved bike path provides a key link in the expanding regional trail system. The path is 2.9 miles long and leads to a scenic overlook.

The technically-challenging, low-impact mountain bike trail with loops through park’s scenic ravines will also be ready to ride at the event. The trail was designed by volunteers with the Michigan Edge Mountain Bike Association (MEMBA).

Guests are invited to walk the trails or to try them out on a bike! VeloCity Cycle of Holland will be at the event with wheels available for use. Though the trail is strictly for non-motorized vehicles, we will have golf carts at the event to provide rides for elderly or disabled guests who would like to see the trail. Refreshments will be provided.

Grand Opening Save the Date!

Grand Ravines South Dog Park • September 26

Throughout the summer, we will continue construction of our first dog park. Our grand opening will be a fun event for all ages. Plan to join us with your pup on September 26! More info in the next newsletter.

We are currently fundraising for the dog park project. If you’re interested in contributing in a special way, consider buying a brick to honor a furry friend. Donations can be made online: miOttawa.org/Parks/dog_park.htm

Healthy Park Options

Two new ventures will improve park options for health-conscious residents in the Holland area. Ottawa County Parks is partnering with the City of Holland to take over management of Paw Paw Park, and improvements will be coming soon. County and City officials agreed to a 35-year lease, which will result in lower overall maintenance costs since the county also operates the adjacent Macatawa Greenspace. County management also made sense because its focus is on natural resource-based parks, and Paw Paw Park fits that description. As part of the lease agreement, the City of Holland will contribute $25,000 toward a $125,000 project to upgrade the park over the next two years. Trail improvements and signage will be the first priority to encourage county residents to get outdoors and be more physically active.

Management of Paw Paw Park fits well with the recently announced plan to construct a half-mile of new paved trail within Macatawa Greenspace, an already popular spot for those looking for a scenic hike, run, or bike ride. The trail will link via crosswalk to trails within Paw Paw Park as well as linking the park to surrounding neighborhoods. Funding for the trail is provided in part through a Building Healthy Communities grant through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The Ottawa County Department of Public Health took the lead in applying for and securing grant funds with a goal to promote healthy lifestyles through physical activity.

Support Natives, Fight Invasives!

This summer Ottawa County Parks will launch a number of creative initiatives to support native plants and fight invasives in our parks. We are always looking for volunteers to help us support the local ecosystem. Read on to learn about what we have planned and how you can get involved.

Monarch Waystations

In the past decade, monarchs, the butterfly synonymous with the warm summer months in Michigan, have decreased by over 80%, mostly due to habitat degradation.

Luckily, there are ways to help re-create their habitats to encourage breeding and migration. The organization Monarch Watch facilitates the creation of monarch-friendly migration paths throughout the country by encouraging schools, business, parks, and home owners to plant native monarch habitats on their land.

These habitats, called Monarch Waystations, can be registered through MonarchWatch.org. Some sites can be certified as they are, but for those starting from scratch, Monarch Watch will provide a native seed kit. Monarch Waystations have been established in every state in the US, except Alaska. Michigan currently leads the nation with 804 registered waystations (although Texas is hot on our heels with 784).

We will be doing our part to represent our home state. By autumn, 12 county parks will be official waystations. We will focus on developing our park sites using only species native to Southwest Michigan as those plants have adapted to our local climate and environmental conditions.

Waystation registration fees are kindly being paid for by the Friends of Ottawa County Parks, who voted unanimously to support the project. If you are interested in helping with this project, please contact Melanie Manion. We encourage you to use your garden or land to create an official waystation; visit MonarchWatch.org to get started.

Eco-Goats

Our most unique invasive initiative, introduced in 2014, is the Prescribed Browsing Project. The project may be better known to the community as Eco-Goats and we looking forward to launching the program for a second year this spring.

This year six goats will combat the regrowth of invasives in Bur Oak, Riverside Park, and Eastmanville Bayou. They’ll be munching on Oriental bittersweet, honeysuckle, autumn olive, multi-flora rose, and buckthorn and rotating park sites weekly.

An addition to the program is a partnership with the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District’s Careerline Tech Agricultural and Environmental Science Program. This will reduce staff cost and provide an exciting, hands-on educational opportunity for the students involved.

Ottawa County Parks will provide funds for the students to purchase the goats. With their teachers, they will manage the health and well-being of the herd throughout the season. They will also be collecting scientific data to help improve the program.

With the help of the Friends of Ottawa County Parks, we are hoping to raise funding to pay a student intern to continue caring for the goats over the summer.

Stay tuned on Facebook to find out where you can visit the goats! If you are interested in supporting the project, please contact the Friends of Ottawa County Parks.

Garlic Mustard Heavy Weights

We are once again one of the organizations representing West Michigan in The Stewardship Network’s 2015 Garlic Mustard Challenge. The challenge encourages volunteers across the Great Lakes region to protect their local ecosystems by pulling this invasive plant. The goal is to collectively pull 200,000 pounds of garlic mustard and to report 50 garlic mustard free sites by June 26.

Garlic mustard was brought to America by European settlers as an herb. It has spread across the country and can be found in over 30 states. These weeds choke out native wildflowers and also excrete chemicals through their roots that hinder future wildflower growth.

In 2014 West Michigan reclaimed its Heavy Weight title with volunteers pulling 27,839 pounds of garlic mustard! West Michigan also reported the highest number of garlic mustard free sites (23) — a feat that takes many years to accomplish because of how quickly it spreads. Last year volunteers state-wide removed a total of 130,427 pounds of garlic mustard.

We have had an impressive amount of volunteer support this spring. Through our Adopt-a-Park program it will continue over the summer, long after the challenge has ended. If your company or school may be interested in adopting a park, contact Melanie Manion.

Youth Connections

We are excited to support and partner with the City of Holland on their Youth Connections program again this summer. Last year, a group of eight students, with their supervisors, worked a combined 1,364 hours at Riley Trails. Much of their time was spent trying to eradicate buckthorn, a new invasive species, from the park. This year the students will be assisting park staff in the improvements to Paw Paw Park including removing invasive shrubs that are growing into the trails.

Youth Connections is an organization seeking employment opportunities for at-risk youth that provide job experience, career skills, and a chance to serve their communities.

CONTACT US

Parks Visitor Center

  • The Nature
    Education Center
    at Hemlock Crossing
    8115 West Olive Road
    West Olive, MI 49460
  • Tuesday - Saturday:
    9:00am - 5:00pm
    Sunday:
    12:00pm - 5:00pm
  • Phone: (616) 786-4847

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.