Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve Fish and Wildlife Habitat Restoration Project
The delisting of the Muskegon Lake as one of the Great Lakes Areas of Concern involves meeting a lake-wide target for the restoration of fish and wildlife habitat along the lake’s shoreline and the coastal wetlands that were degraded and lost by the historic filling of shallow nearshore areas. The removal of unnatural fill material and reconnection with surface water and wetlands are the primary goals for restoration at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve located along Muskegon Lake and the north side of the Muskegon River. Engineering and Design efforts are complete for both projects. Implementation and restoration began in March of 2020. This WMSRDC project is funded through a NOAA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Grant (GLRI) administered by the Great Lakes Commission (GLC).
The Muskegon Lake MERES project is located on the eastern shoreline of Muskegon Lake adjacent to the mouth of the Muskegon River within the Muskegon Lake Area of Concern. The property is owned by the Muskegon Environment, Research, and Education Society (MERES) and known as the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve.
This 27.0-acre shoreline property was once emergent and shrub wetland habitat. It was degraded over time with foundry fill, broken concrete, and sawmill waste. The site conditions have led to a proliferation of invasive species that has further reduced and degraded the native habitat on the east end of Muskegon Lake.
Approximately 7 acres of native wetland habitat will be restored or enhanced by creating additional ephemeral wetland ponds, removing impacted fill material, replacing some of the degraded soil with clean fill, expanding the wetland footprint, removing broken concrete and asphalt piles, treating Invasive plants and replanting with diverse native species including trees, shrubs, forbes and wetland vegetation.
Former Standard Oil / Amoco Dock and Tank Farm Coastal Wetland Restoration and Reconnection
The delisting of the Muskegon Lake as one of the Great Lakes Areas of Concern involves meeting a lake-wide target for the restoration of fish and wildlife habitat along the lake’s shoreline and the coastal wetlands that were degraded and lost by the historic filling of shallow nearshore areas. The removal of unnatural fill material and reconnection with surface water and wetlands were the primary goals for restoration at the former Amoco Tank Farm, located near the mouth of Ruddiman Creek. Engineering and Design efforts are completed in 2020. Implementation and restoration began in the spring of 2020 and was completed in 2022.
This 23-acre shoreline property was once emergent wetland and shallow aquatic habitat. It was initially filled with sawmill wood debris waste from a historic lumber-era sawmill that operated on the site. It was later filled with foundry sand and broken concrete to provide a foundation for the development of the Standard Oil dock and tank farm (later known as Amoco). The mouth of Ruddiman Creek was historically used as a tire dump. A 5-foot high, 2,300 foot long concrete wall separated the former wetland property from Ruddiman Creek and the shoreline of Muskegon Lake.
The project reconnected 2 acres of coastal wetlands with Ruddiman Creek and Muskegon Lake by removing the concrete wall structure and including footings and a fence with space at the bottom for native fish and wildlife populations. The project will also removed 1,235 feet of asphalt bike path constructed on the original tank farm berm and 1,100 cubic yards of shallow unnatural fill materials in the coastal wetland. Removal of debris in the creek and lake (mostly tires) over 7.6 acres of open water wetland accumulated to a total of 9.8 acres of aquatic habitat and 1,400 linear feet of shoreline restoration.
The project installed a new berm and bike trail along the restored edge of the creek and lake. The new trail corrected the line of site hazard while removing unnatural corners and giving Ruddiman Creek room to take on a shallower and more resilient marsh ecology.