Amsterdam Dunes ours now - and for the future

THE COUNTY IS NOW the owner of 333 acres, nearly all of it pristine, of undeveloped land in the town of Holland.

And thanks to the recently-closed purchase, for $4.2 million, the Amsterdam Dunes will remain a unique and unspoiled ecosystem that can be enjoyed for generations to come.

Indeed, to make a good deal even better, the Amsterdam Dunes deal has the potential to enhance and increase the unspoiled nature of the property – while also potentially benefiting taxpayers and industry throughout the county.

The County Board last week established a 14-member advisory committee to help the county manage and administer the Amsterdam Dunes property.

The majority of the committee members will be citizens who either live in or around the dunes or have an interest in conservation and natural preservation – or both.

That’s a good composition for the committee, which will have the duty of helping to preserve, protect and enhance a natural beauty.

The goal is to make the natural wonder of the Amsterdam Dunes available and accessible to the general public – its new owners – while at the same time preserving, protecting and enhancing the dunes and all its biodiversity.

The dunes will be enhanced in a way that will also benefit both public and private sector growth throughout the county.

That’s because a sizable portion of the property

– as much as 20 to 25 percent of the land – can be restored to its original wetland state by the new owner, the county.

That will create a wetland mitigation bank that can be used as credits to offset wetland areas in the rest of the county that might have to be filled in to make room for expansions by private industry or for public infrastructure projects.

That will prove to be a boost for local economic and job growth, which is a real positive, while at the same time making the natural splendor of the dunes better and more diverse.

As if all of that wasn’t enough, the purchase of the dunes should be financed in the end without the use of county taxpayer dollars, thanks to the cooperation of the Great Lakes Conservancy group and the use of grant and Stewardship Fund dollars.

With all that on their plate, the advisory committee has a huge task in front of them – ensuring that the dunes are preserved but also made accessible for appreciation and education, while also establishing a system to ensure that the Amsterdam Dunes are maintained and cared for well into the future.

It’s a big challenge, but the county and its people have proven up to it in the past, at the Sheboygan Marsh and elsewhere. Amsterdam Dunes should and will add to that legacy.

At issue:
Amsterdam Dunes
Bottom line:
Newest jewel in county’s crown

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