Parks Foundation - June Newsletter

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Ottawa County Parks Foundation - June Newsletter

We protect and restore land and natural resources. 

Your continued support helps us secure and provide high quality park land to the public and habitat to local wildlife. 


Green Investment: Residents join parks in all-out war against hemlock bugs

Mary Terpstra

The sun just edged above the wooded dune to the east as residents of the Forest Beach neighborhood gathered, ready for battle, in Mary and Dale Terpstra’s driveway one recent morning. Soon, after strategy from Drew Rayner and suitably armed with clipboards, hammers, tags and tape measures, they fanned out for reconnaissance in teams of two.

The neighbors were out to save their hemlock trees from a bug called the hemlock woolly adelgid. Their skirmish is part of a campaign to save eastern hemlocks in Ottawa County parks and in woods from Fennville to Mears. Ultimately, the battle is to stop the spread across Michigan and, in a way, protect Michigan’s outdoors as we know it.

If hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) escapes containment here on Michigan’s west coast, it could lay waste to northern Michigan’s hemlock forests. An estimated 170 million Michigan hemlocks are at risk.

Dark, green groves of eastern hemlock are some of the most inviting scenes and quiet spaces of Michigan’s peninsulas. They cool trout streams and shelter deer

"It’s a critical species in Michigan,” said Melanie Manion, natural resource management supervisor for Ottawa County Parks Department. “If the hemlock dies out, our hunting and fishing go away. It will completely change the aesthetics as well as the economy of Michigan.”

So, it’s war. And as in any war, alliances are crucial. 

“We love to see private initiatives like this neighborhood effort,” said Bobbi Jones Sabine, Vice President of the Ottawa County Parks Foundation board of directors.

“The county parks staff and the Parks Foundation do a lot, as much as we can, but it is so much better and more effective with the support and active involvement of a caring community. And that holds true not only for controlling invasive species, but also for our combined efforts to provide and manage green space and natural lands in our county.”

The battle against HWA is one example of cooperative parks system, foundation and community investments that enrich lives with recreation and natural resources.

Learn more about the fight against HWA and how to Save MI Hemlocks in our third Green Investment story  >> 

Green Investment is an occasional series about the positive impact of Ottawa County parks on the quality of life in West Michigan, presented by the Ottawa County Parks Foundation.

Breakfast at the Park

On May 17 and June 7, the Ottawa County Parks Foundation hosted two fundraising events at Grand Ravines and Connor Bayou. We were lucky to have the weather on our side for both. Thanks to the generosity of the attendees, table hosts, sponsors, and an exciting anonymous donor who matched $10,000 of new donations, we raised over $50,000! 

Thank you again to our sponsors!

Gold Leadership Sponsor: 
Dickson Wright 

Leadership Sponsor & Adopt-a-Park Company: 
Tyson Foods

Community Sponsors: 
Baird, Barber Ford of Holland, Prein&Newhof, Tim & Jane Stoepker

Community Sponsors & Adopt-a-Park Company: 
Chow Hound Pet Supplies

Friend Sponsors: 
GEI Consultants, Kennari Consulting, Scott & Julie Reenders, David & Barb VanGinhoven 


Don't miss the show!

Board member and local historian Marjorie Viveen will be presenting Old Times, Places, and Faces along the Grand River Greenway throughout 2018. Immerse yourself in local history by joining us for this free series at the Nature Education Center at Hemlock Crossing County Park at 10 am on July 14. 

The second leg of our historic journey along the Grand River Greenway transports us in words and images from Stearns Bayou to Bass River. 

Join the “tour” to “catch the show” at JacJungle (now Southern Grand Marina)!