Pilgrim Haven Natural Area project begins next week

Dick Brunvand of South Haven rides his recumbent bike on the all-access recreation path leading to Lake Michigan at Pilgrim Haven Natural area. More improvement plans are underway for Pilgrim Haven this summer, including paving of the gravel parking lot, two new toilets, new walkways and benches, creation of a rain garden and installation of a kayak rack.

SOUTH HAVEN — Thanks to a grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and funding from two organizations, a second round of improvements will soon begin at Pilgrim Haven Natural Area.

The $140,000 project is expected to begin July 1 and includes paving of the existing gravel parking lot, installation of two new toilets, new walkways and benches, creation of a rain garden and installation of a kayak rack to serve individuals who want to kayak on the Lake Michigan Water Trail that runs adjacent to Pilgrim Haven.

“The work is scheduled to be completed the first week of August,” said Tony McGhee, vice president of development services for Abonmarche, an engineering and architectural company in South Haven that is helping to coordinate the project.

The upgrades are being paid for from a $100,000 grant and $40,000 in funds from the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy and the South Haven Area Recreation Authority.

Located off of 77th Street in South Haven Township, Pilgrim Haven encompasses 27 acres of woods, dune grass prairies and 800 feet of shoreline along Lake Michigan. The property is bisected by a scenic creek and is home to a wide range of plant life, according to Peter Ter Louw, executive director of the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy, which acquired Pilgrim Haven several years ago.

The natural area is managed and maintained by the South Haven Area Recreation Authority, which is made up of representatives from South Haven Public Schools, the city of South Haven and South Haven Township.

“I’m pleased to see the second phase of improvements occurring at the Pilgrim Haven Natural Area,” said Ross Stein, chair of the South Haven Area Recreation Authority and supervisor of South Haven Township. “This site is a gem and offers residents and visitors a wonderful opportunity to enjoy Lake Michigan in different ways.”

Previous improvements to the Pilgrim Haven Natural Area have included the creation of a fully accessible walkway to the Lake Michigan shoreline, the development of a parking lot, informational signage and fencing and access constructed on the property.