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Sand Mine Reclamation Grand Mere State Park

The purpose of this project was to complete an ecological restoration of the Peters sand mine at Grand Mere State Park in Berrien County, Mich. 

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Appendix A: Planting Zones Map 22
Appendix B: Global and State Element Ranking Criteria 23
Appendix C: Public Act 451 of 1994 – Part 353 “Sand Dunes Protection & Management” 24
Appendix D: Public Act 451 of 1994 – Part 637 “Sand Dune Mining” 25
Appendix E: Critical Dune Areas at Grand Mere

Background and Project Objectives

sign showing characteristics of the Grand Mere National Natural LandmarkThe purpose of this project was to complete an ecological restoration of the Peters sand mine at Grand Mere State Park, Berrien County, Michigan.  Grand Mere State Park is a 985 acre park characterized by one mile of Lake Michigan shoreline, large oak-forested dunes, several large blowouts, and three shallow inland lakes behind the dunes (largely succeeding towards shrub-dominated swamp).  An active sand mine is adjacent to the 1,200-acre dedicated National Natural Landmark that includes Grand Mere State Park.  The overall goal of the project is to reclaim the sand mine to native species (local genotype) that blend well with the surrounding natural communities, while demonstrating to regulators and the sand mining industry a more ecologically-sound way of reclaiming sand mines.  Throughout the project, cooperation between private industry, state and federal agencies, and the local community was emphasized.

Panne surrounded by dunes (inter-dunal wetland)The project duration was originally set at two years, with a one-year extension anticipated from the beginning.  It was recognized in the original project narrative that additional time may be needed for restoration, depending on how quickly the sand mining was completed.  As of September 1, 2000, TechniSand is still completing mining and contouring of the site.  Some slopes have received initial plantings, but the majority of the site will not be ready for plantings until fall 2000 or spring 2001.

vegetated sand duneBecause mining has not yet been completed, this final report cannot present the outcome of a completed restoration.  The report will document what was accomplished to date and how the federal funds were spent.  It will be necessary to continue monitoring and implementation of the restoration plan to ensure all requirements of the plan are met.  The State Park Stewardship Program is prepared to continue this project until all phases of the plan are carried out.  An addendum to this final report will be completed detailing the progress of the reclamation after all plants purchased with EPA assistance are installed and monitoring has continued for at least three years.  At that time, a more elaborate summary can be made of lessons learned through this project.

The specific objectives of the project are as follows (excerpted from a letter to Project Officer Kent Fuller dated January 14, 2000):

  1. To complete an ecological restoration of the Manley-Peters (a.k.a. Gullivere-Peters) Sand Mine at Grand Mere State Park to approximate, as near as possible, the natural conditions of surrounding dunes.  To accomplish this, we will plant a suite of key native plant species that create the biological framework of the native plant communities likely to occur naturally at this site.  Following the initial plantings, the State Park Stewardship Program intends to monitor the growth of these plants and those that naturally establish within the sand mine for many years.  Through active management, we will promote succession towards the natural forested dune, prairie, wetpanne, and pond communities that occur nearby within the park.
  2. To demonstrate to regulators of the sand mining industry a more ecologically sound way of restoring sand mines that promotes the use of a diverse array of native species that would naturally occur on dunes at the site of the mining operation.  We intend to demonstrate the feasibility of an ecological restoration effort that uses a diversity of native plants to revegetate the site, rather than the monocultures of beach grass and non-native trees and shrubs often planted to stabilize sand dunes.
  3. To demonstrate to the sand mining companies that they can do a better job of restoring sand mines to a more natural condition following mining.  In addition to benefiting the environment by providing habitat for native plants and animals, such restorations would also boost the reputation of these companies as being more environmentally-conscious.
  4. To cooperate with private industry, state and federal agencies, and the local community.  This cooperation will foster awareness of the importance of conserving the native biological diversity of dune systems for all parties involved.  Volunteerism and natural resource education will be promoted throughout the restoration.  In addition, the project will involve the development of techniques to restore wetpanne and aquatic habitats, including research on the propagation of native plant species.

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