Muskegon County will collect $196,100 grant from the National Oceana and Atmospheric Administration to purchase contaminated celery fields in North Muskegon.
The land in question runs right up next to the east end of Bear Lake. It appears to be contaminated due to years of pesticide use but also surplus nutrients that came from intensive crop growth. Those nutrient levels could be so plentiful it could actually be toxic to other plants and animals.
The land qualified for the grant because the contaminants the land likely holds could leak into Bear Lake, then Muskegon Lake, and even possibly Lake Michigan,
The City of North Muskegon previously transferred dollars to the county to buy the land on the east side of Witham, which is further away from Bear Lake and was once considered a possible site for a new North Muskegon branch for the Muskegon Area District Library.
The West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission (WMSRDC) is set to be involved with the eventual cleanup, but testing must take place first. No timeline for the testing has been set as of Tuesday’s meeting.
Similar issues with celery fields in Muskegon Heights have been discussed in recent years, but no County action to purchase land there has taken place. The Mona Lake Watershed Council has instead been influential in a planned cleanup on the Muskegon Heights fields, which drain into Black Creek, which in turn drains into Mona Lake.