Veterans Memorial Park

Veterans Memorial Park

Veterans Memorial Park is a public park owned by Muskegon County. The park was originally created between 1928 and 1934 during construction of the memorial parkway, and was established as a memorial to the Muskegon area Veterans who lost their lives during World War I.  It has since become a memorial to all United Stated Veterans. The park includes two ponds that are split by the Muskegon River. Both ponds are publicly accessible and are encircled by sidewalks that provide access to the ponds, natural areas and the numerous memorials that are present throughout the park.

The ponds provide critical habitat for fish and wildlife, but were historically degraded from sedimentation, nutrient enrichment and the 1970s installation of a water control structure that cut the south pond off from the Muskegon River. Restoration of the ponds included modification of the water control structure and installation of a clear span bridge to allow fish passage during all but high water periods, removal of high-phosphorus sediment, installation of numerous under water fish habitat structures, and the installation of over 50,000 native, wetland plants. Both ponds have been planted with a variety of native vegetation, and dead or dying trees throughout the park have been replaced with native trees that more closely match the original, historic vision of the park.

Veterans Memorial Park | Restoration Map
Year restored: 2017-2020

Total Area Restored (by habitat type):
Shoreline Softening=6,025 linear feet
Open Water Wetland=4.61 acres
Emergent Wetland=6.38 acres
Upland Buffer=3.43 acres

Construction Facts:
$2,718,998 construction cost

31,660 tons of high phosphorus soils removed
1,760 linear feet of  fish lunker structures installed
53,804 native plants installed &
65 native species installed
1,388 tons of gravel for fish spawning beds installed
14 submerged tree habitat structures installed



2019 Site Monitoring Summary

Site Summary Statistics

Veterans Park South Pond
2019 Native Mean Coefficient of Conservatism: 3.5
2019 Floristic Quality Index (FQI): 27.4
2019 Total Native Species: 87
2019 Percent Invasive Species Cover: 16.7%

Invasive species currently present:
Narrow leaf/hybrid cattail (Typha angustifoloa and Typha x glauca)

Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)
Phragmites (Phragmites australis)

Dominant Native Species:
Brown fox sedge (Carex vulpinoidea)

Tussock sedge (Carex stricta)
Palm sedge (Carex muskingumensis)
Bur reed (Sparganium eurycarpum)
Elodea (Elodea canadensis)
Fragrant water lily (Nymphaea odorata)

Veterans Park North Pond
2019 Native Mean Coefficient of Conservatism: 4.1

2019 Floristic Quality Index (FQI): 20.4
2019 Total Native Species: 29
2019 Percent Invasive Species Cover: <5%

Invasive species currently present:
Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)

Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicata)

For more information on invasive plants and their management, CLICK HERE

Dominant native species:
Duckweed (Lemnsa trisulca)

Arrow arum (Peltandra virginica)
Coontail (Ceratophyllum demersum)
Threesquare rush (Schoenoplectus pungens)

For more information on native plants around Muskegon Lake, CLICK HERE

Site Summary:

High water levels have caused a shift in the plant community in both the south and north ponds. In late 2019, however, a modified water control structure and pump system were installed in the south pond. This system will maintain more consistent water levels during high water periods.

The native vegetation around the pond is becoming established after being installed in 2018. There is pressure from early successional weedy vegetation, as well plants such as cattails and Phragmites that may cause long term problems if not managed.

Native Mean C=average coefficient of conservatism (C). Each plant is assigned a “C” value, which represents the probability that a plant will occur in an undisturbed area. C values range from 0-10. Wetlands with a native mean C greater than 3.5 are considered “high quality aquatic resources” (USFWS)
FQI=Floristic Quality Inventory, which is an indication of quality of the vegetation at a given site. In general, wetlands with an FQI above 20 are considered “high quality aquatic resources” (USFWS)

Management Recommendations

Phragmites, cattails, and purple loosestrife are present at the site although their populations are relatively small. Early and active management for these species will suppress their establishment  and promote the establishment and growth of the planted native species.

For more information on invasive plant management, CLICK HERE.

The site planting plan included large monocultures of sedges. These low growing, grassy native plants allow views of the ponds from all sides, and were installed to allow easy maintenance. The sedges should be treated with a 2% solution broadleaf-specific herbicide (preferably an aquatic-safe triclopyr solution such as Renovate) on a monthly basis if possible. This herbicide will treat any broadleaf weeds growing in these areas, but will not harm the sedges themselves.

The site should be monitored 2-3 times per year to look for erosion and any invasive plants.