Born With Sand in My Shoes

Perhaps more accurately put; I’ve never worn a pair of shoes that didn’t have, at one time or another, Lake Michigan sand in them. I was raised and have always lived within a short distance of sand dunes. It is a clean golden sand that has a uniform particle size that invites your bare feet to sink into it. Climbing a steep dune up to your ankles in sand is the ultimate workout.

A very small, pristine barrier dune sanctuary exists on the north side of White Lake in northwestern Muskegon county, Michigan. The White River Township has been fighting for decades to permanently protect it from reckless development. It is a narrow strip of dunes that stands between Lake Michigan and a stream called “The Old Channel” that empties into White Lake. The old channel previously emptied White Lake into Lake Michigan but was reversed in flow when the navigational channel was constructed nearby.

Old Channel is a lazy moving stream perfect for canoes and kayaks. Without the barrier dunes though it probably wouldn’t exist in its current form.  Barrier dunes are a unique ecosystem that has disappeared in many areas to development and sand mining up and down the western coast of Michigan.

The White River Township, the sanctuary and the local residents have been held hostage by endless litigation by the owners of one lot to obtain permission to construct what they call a driveway through the sanctuary from the south end to the north end along an old walking path easement. Another route was initially denied by the neighbors to the south. The north route was then denied by the township and even the EPA.

Because of the nature of Lake Michigan sand and the extreme slopes a road would have to be disproportionately wide. The developer underestimates the need for constant maintenance for a leeward side road. Removing sand and snow with no place to put it without further exacerbating the damage to the ecosystem would be nearly impossible. It appears to me to be an exercise in futility accompanied by a profound disregard for natural systems. Destroying a nationally significant natural area would be a sad, lasting legacy for the individuals proposing it.

Finally, there is now an opportunity to purchase the lot through the Land Conservancy of West Michigan. If you are interested, there is more information at the Land Conservancy site

Or just enjoy the video and get a little virtual sand in your shoes.

The video can also be viewed and shared on


2 thoughts on “Born With Sand in My Shoes

  1. Seen if from the lake and the road, never from the air. It is a beautiful piece of property. Thanks, Deb

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