The City of Saugatuck has taken ownership of nearly 173-acres of dune land on the shores of Lake Michigan. A coalition of conservationists and foundations has worked for more than 6 years to buy the property from a private developer.
April Scholtz is the Land Protection Director for the Land Conservancy of West Michigan. It is one of the organizations that helped secure the dune land. Scholtz says there are forests, wetlands, a lake, habitat for endangered species and more than 36-hundred feet of Lake Michigan coastline. “It’s not going to ever have a private property do not trespass sign on it again. And it’s all wild and it’s all there for us,” Scholtz said.
The property cost about $22 million to buy and transfer to the city. About half that money came from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund. Another chunk came from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program. But another 900 individuals and families donated their own money to conserve the land. “For so many generations it has remained untouched and that’s how people want to remember it,” Scholtz said.
Meanwhile, the private developer who sold the property south of the Kalamazoo River owns more property north of the river. He’s still battling Saugatuck Township in federal court over his right to develop that property.