Kirk Park

16731 Ferris Street
Grand Haven, MI 49417
Phone: 616-842-5852 ext. 5
Hours: 8:00am - 4:30pm
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Our Mission is to be your local resource for natural resource management, helping people conserve, maintain and improve our natural resources and environment for future generations in Ottawa County.

Critical Dunes

Critical Dunes in Michigan

Critical Dunes and High Risk Erosion

Lake Michigan sand dunes are part of the largest system of freshwater dunes in the world. In Michigan, there are about 225,000 acres of sand dunes. In 1989, the Michigan government designated approximately 74,000 of those acres as critical dunes. These areas are the tallest, most spectacular dunes along Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.

Critical Dunes Information and Education

Ottawa Conservation District is a local resource for information about Michigan’s Critical Dunes. General information about critical dunes is available by contacting the Ottawa Conservation District office. Staff is available to provide informative programs about critical dunes for schools and organizations. Program content and length can be tailored to the interests and age of the audience. Contact the District for up-to-date information about available programs and presentations.

Permits for Critical Dunes and High Risk Erosion Areas

Required for earth moving, vegetation removal, and/or construction

Critical Dunes and High Risk Erosion

Michigan law, Part 353, Sand Dune Protection and Management, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended, requires landowners to get a permit from Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) for projects that involve earth moving, vegetation removal, and/or construction. If you are planning a project in a critical dunes or high risk erosion area, contact the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) for information about a per-permit meeting.

Visit the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts website for more information, and important links to Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) information and forms.

DEQ Contacts for Permit Questions and Pre-permit Meetings

Property Location DEQ Contact Number
Port Sheldon and Grand Haven Township (616) 204-1708
City of Grand Haven, Ferrysburg, Spring Lake Township (616) 204-1752
Park Township (616) 401-1641


Critical Dunes Fact Sheet for Landowners

USDA Plant Fact Sheet, American beach grass (Ammophila breviligulata)

Vegetation Removal Assurances

On August 7, 2012, Governor Snyder signed a law that changes the role of Conservation Districts in the critical dunes vegetation assurance process. Prior to this law, the permit process required local conservation districts to provide the vegetation assurance portion of the application. The new law requires a vegetation assurance yet the assurance does not necessarily need to be written by a conservation district. However, Ottawa Conservation District continues to serve as a local resource for landowners seeking information about minimizing vegetation disturbance in the critical dunes. Vegetation assurances for critical dune areas are still available from Ottawa Conservation District for a fee.