Lake Michigan’s dunes are part of the largest freshwater dune system in the world. They are so large, in fact, that they are visible from space. The dunes provide critical habitat for migratory birds, federally endangered plants and rare insects. As special as they are, only 70,000 of the 275,000 acres that line the shores of Lake Michigan are protected from invasive species, habitat degradation and other threats. And, once gone, the dunes can never be replaced.
The Michigan Dune Alliance was formed by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Office of the Great Lakes and the Conservation Fund in November of 1999 with the goal of protecting the dunes and shoreline along Eastern Lake Michigan. The Alliance covers the lake shorelines of Emmet, Charlevoix, Antrim, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Benzie, Manistee, Mason, Oceana, Muskegon, Ottawa, Allegan, Van Buren and Berrien Counties.
Today, the Alliance focuses on the dune systems, coastal wetlands and forests, and other near-shore areas directly influenced by Lake Michigan. Dune Alliance partners are managing a (terrestrial) invasive plant project funded in part by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Sustain Our Great Lakes grants program. The project is also supported by significant private and partner support. Active and advisory members include regional land conservancies, state and federal agencies, universities, and other non-profit conservation organizations.