Ottawa Park

A Michigan park’s master plan includes yurts and other camping features.

A massive renovation project is planned for Michigan’s Ottawa Sands County Park, according to MIX 95.7.

Ottawa County Parks and Recreation announced Friday (Dec. 17) that upgrades are coming to Ottawa Sands County Park that will create unique, low impact overnight accommodations to the Grand River Greenway and 2,479-acre corridor of connected dune lands.

“Ottawa Sands is the western-most property managed by Ottawa County Parks, along the Grand River Greenway and serves as a logical endpoint for anyone enjoying an extended adventure along the Idema Explorers Trail or the Grand River Heritage Water Trail,” noted officials from the Ottawa Co. Parks and Rec. Department. “It is also a gateway to the stretch of contiguous publicly owned duneland that is comparable in scale to larger state parks such as Silver Lake or Warren Dunes.”

The Ottawa Sands Master Plan

The new campground is part of the Ottawa Sands Master Plan which began with the acquisition of the 345-acre park in 2019.

“The acquisition of the 345-acre Ottawa Sands County Park in 2019 was a whirlwind process made possible only through the coordinated efforts of many residents, donors and stakeholders,” said Kelly Rice, president of the Ottawa County Parks Commission. “Our opportunity to purchase the $11.2 million sand mining site quickly emerged in the latter half of 2017 and was entirely unanticipated.”

The Ottawa Sands Master Plan proposed site improvements and ecological restoration, reclamation and enhancements of $23.3 million to the recently decommissioned sand mine over several phases.

The improvements include:

  • Constructed dunal wet prairie and marsh, improving wildlife habitat
  • A 1.6-mile paved loop around the 80-acre inland lake
  • Day-use parking area near the current entrance
  • Outfitted camping experience for the Grand River with an accessible kayak launch
  • A beach on the lake
  • Dune overlook tower with views of Lake Michigan
  • Riverfront recreational area with docks

Idema Explorers Camp to Provide Overnight Accommodations

The next phase, the Idema Explorers Camp, was made possible by a $2.5 million gift from the Bill and Bea Idema Foundation.

The campground will be located in a hidden bowl along the Grand River, a manmade feature that resulted from dredging activities related to the mining operation. It is planned to be accessible by bike and kayak.

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