Thursday, April 12, 2012

Signs on the way to thank donors for land acquisition

A sign listing the major donors to the Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area north of Oval Beach is expected to be in place at the edge of the property by this summer.

By the time the tourists hit the sands at Oval Beach, two new signs will be pointing them to the 173-acres and reminding them who helped fund the purchase of the land.

April Scholtz of the Land Conservancy of West Michigan asked the Saugatuck City Council April 5 to consider where to place two signs listing donors to the purchase of the Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area. Environmental groups and donors purchased the land north of Oval Beach from Aubrey McClendon on Dec. 22, 2009 for $19 million. The property was held by the conservancy until it was paid off last year and ownership transferred to the city.

One sign could be placed by the concession stand. The plaque will list the 600 donors who gave at least $25 to the project. The other side could direct visitors north to the natural area.

The larger sign will be placed at the north end of the beach parking lot at the entrance to the duneland. It will list the major donors — people and foundations who gave millions of dollars, Scholtz said.

The council will decided on the locations at a future meeting.

The signs will have to be dug out of the sand each spring, council members said.

Payment for that work and other expenses will come from the interest on a $450,000 endowment that will be transferred to the city, Scholtz said.

Both signs should be ready for the June 10 dedication event at the natural area.

The dune ecosystem includes 3,650 feet of Lake Michigan shoreline, populations of at least six rare plant and animal species, open dunes, wetlands, natural jack pine forest, hardwood-pine dune forest, marsh, 4,452 feet on an oxbow lake and 1,650 feet of Kalamazoo River shoreline.

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