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Effort to preserve Saugatuck dune-land likely to get state grant ahead of schedule

Dunes near Saugatuck
Norm Hoekstra
Dunes near Saugatuck

Conservationists are celebrating a recommendation to approve a $7 million grant to preserve dune-land near Saugatuck.

The grant will help the City of Saugatuck purchase the 171-acre property. The land includes thousands of feet of Lake Michigan shoreline; plus dunes, wetlands, and lakes.

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund recommended the grant 2 years ahead of schedule. The fund got a huge influx of money this summer. An auction to lease state owned land for oil and gas exploration netted record bonus payments amounting to nearly $180 million.

Lawmakers are expected to approve the grant next spring.

The Land Conservancy of West Michigan needs a total of $2.5 million from the public to preserve the dunes. The organization has 80% of that goal.

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.