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Muskegon County officials consider buying Nugent Sand in Norton Shores

The former sand mine in Norton Shores has approximately 377 acres of land and water, including two inland lakes.

NORTON SHORES, Mich. — Muskegon County officials are considering a proposal to buy the former Nugent Sand property in Norton Shores. 

Nugent Sand is a tract of land along Lake Michigan with approximately 377 acres of land and water, including two inland lakes. The former sand mine closed down about two years ago and the land has been for sale since. 

The Land Conservancy of West Michigan and Shoreline Development Assistance are working with Muskegon County officials and the landowner’s representative to develop a plan to buy the property and turn it into a county recreation area that would include trail development, parking areas, restrooms, scenic overlooks, kayak launches, fishing areas and Lake Michigan beach access. 

According to a press release from the county, the lakes on the property would be "quiet lakes" with no motorized boat traffic allowed. There would be kayaking, canoeing and stand-up paddleboarding instead.

If the proposal moves forward, officials would use a combination of grant funding, foundation funding, and private donations to fund the sale. The county says no general fund dollars (which support country services) will be used to purchase the property if it is acquired by Muskegon County. 

Officials say they hope to submit a Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Trust Fund Grant to provide a portion of funding for the land acquisition.

The Nugent Sand property contains two lakes, 1,917 feet of Lake Michigan frontage, and a portion of the property sits on protected Lake Michigan critical dune. The property is home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, and is a frequent stop for resting waterfowl along the Mississippi Flyway, which encompasses the entire Great Lakes and the State of Michigan.

Credit: Jon Mills / 13 OYS
Muskegon County officials are thinking of purchases Nugent Sand property to turn into a recreational area.

“This unique property – one of the largest remaining tracts of Lake Michigan frontage in the state of Michigan – presents Muskegon County with a unique opportunity to preserve outdoor recreational space for future generations,” said Mark Eisenbarth, Muskegon County Administrator. “A great deal of work remains to be done to bring this potential land acquisition to fruition, but we wanted to explore the idea and get the public’s input on the future of this property.”

It could take up to two years to turn the Nugent Sand property into a recreational area. County officials plan on reaching out to the community for input, ideas and ways to use the property to its best potential in a public information meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. at the Norton Shores Library, located at 705 Seminole Road in Norton Shores.

The Muskegon County Board of Commissioners will discuss the proposal at the Thursday, Feb. 13 committee meeting at 3:30 p.m. at the Hall of Justice building, 4th floor, 990 Terrace Street in Muskegon.

Following the public information session on Feb. 11 and committee meeting on Feb. 13, a required public hearing will be held on Tuesday, March 3 at 3:30 p.m. at the county building which would pave the way for the county to pursue grant funding for the property through the DNR's Trust Fund. 

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