Habitat Management Plan


To the Muskegon Lake Habitat Management Plan! This portion of the MLWP website is intended to provide both lakewide and site-specific recommendations for the management of habitat around the lake.

Why does this matter? Local, state, and federal partners have worked hard to restore habitat around the lake. However, the habitat will continue to be threatened by things like invasive plants, pollution, erosion, and human use. So, the scientists, landowners, and volunteers that love Muskegon Lake need to have the tools to manage the wetlands, uplands, and forests around the lake.

Throughout this portion of the website, you’ll find information on restored sites, management techniques, and common plants and wildlife that you may encounter around the lake. You’ll also find contact information for different groups around the lake that are already managing the habitat, in case you have questions or want to get involved.

Invasive Species | Vets Park

Muskegon Lake’s Wetlands

Muskegon Lake is a Great Lakes lacustrine estuary. Also known as a drowned river mouth, these areas exist where our rivers and streams meet the Great Lakes. Muskegon Lake and its associated wetlands are critical to the ecology of the Great Lakes. Great Lakes coastal wetlands provide important habitat for insects, amphibians, birds, mammals, and fish.

“Hydrologic variability is central to the structure and function of Great Lakes coastal wetlands. Wetlands only form where there is sufficient protection from hydrologic energy to allow rooted macrophytes to establish. Where wetlands do establish, hydrologic variability, including waves, long shore currents, flood pulses, and storm surges create distinct plant zonation, while washing away or depositing organic matter in the sediments”.
Burton et. al., 2004

Coastal Wetlands Habitat Illustration

Coastal wetlands, such as those around Muskegon Lake, are virtually defined by their dynamic nature. Typically comprised of a mix of submergent, emergent, wet meadow, shrub, and forested plant communities, the exact type of wetlands shifts annually as Lake Michigan water levels fluctuate. Over thousands of years, the plants and animals in these habitats have evolved to adapt to these fluctuations.

Although these water level fluctuations are part of a normal cycle, Lake Michigan has experienced extreme highs and lows over the last ten years. These fluctuations affect the infrastructure and property around the lake, as well as the habitat. To properly manage the wetlands around Muskegon Lake, it’s important to understand that these fluctuations are normal and that the water level fluctuations will regularly change the ecology of the habitat from year to year. Although these low and high periods may affect how we use the lake, they typically don’t harm the habitat in the long run because these systems are adapted to the cyclical fluctuations.

To learn more about Great Lakes water levels, visit NOAAs Great Lakes website: https://www.glerl.noaa.gov/data/wlevels/levels.html#overview

To learn more about Great Lakes wetlands: