Muskegon Lake is one of 43 Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOCs) where historic and ongoing pollution has resulted in significantly degraded environmental conditions. In 2009, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) awarded an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant to the Great Lakes Commission to support restoration activities aimed at delisting this AOC. GLC is working with the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission (WMSRDC) to coordinate and manage the restoration work. Ecological and economic monitoring is being conducted by Grand Valley State University’s Annis Water Resources Institute.
The project will protect and restore 24 acres of coastal wetlands and more than a mile of shoreline at multiple sites along the south shore of Muskegon Lake. More than 180 tons of degraded lake fill will also be removed to restore lake bottom and shallow water areas. Once complete, the project will achieve 40 percent of the Fish and Wildlife Habitat Beneficial Use Impairment (BUI) target for the Muskegon Lake AOC. The project will also provide short and long-term socioeconomic benefit to the region, by creating and retaining jobs and improving recreational opportunities. Almost 40,000 labor hours supporting 125 jobs, largely in engineering and construction are expected to be generated as a result of the project.
Several partners are involved in the project including GLC, WMSRDC, GVSU-AWRI, Muskegon Lake Watershed Partnership, Muskegon River Watershed Assembly, the City of Muskegon, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, local schools and multiple public and private landowners. Construction started in fall 2009 and is expected to be completed in December 2011.
About Muskegon Lake
Muskegon Lake is a 4,149-acre inland coastal lake located on the west shoreline of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, connected to Lake Michigan by a navigation channel. The lake and its associated wetlands comprise one of the four major freshwater estuary wetland complexes along the east shoreline of Lake Michigan. In 1985 Muskegon Lake was designated an AOC because of water quality and habitat problems associated with the historical discharge of pollutants into the AOC, and the potential adverse effect the pollutants could have on Lake Michigan.
Currently, sawmill, industrial and commercial demolition materials have filled 798 acres of shallow water and wetlands and approximately 74 percent of the shoreline has been hardened. Wetlands and riparian corridors has been severely degraded or eliminated and fish and wildlife populations have declined. These conditions have also limited public access to the lake’s natural resources, degraded the quality of life for residents, and hampered efforts to attract tourism and businesses to the area.
Muskegon Lake Contacts
If you have questions regarding the ARRA Muskegon Lake AOC Habitat Restoration Project, please contact: Heather Braun [email protected]