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Silver Lake State Park reopens ORV use at previously closed area

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SILVER LAKE, MICH. — An area at Silver Lake State Park that temporarily had been restricted from ORV use this summer is now open to riding again.

In late May, a nest belonging to Great Lakes piping plovers — a small shorebird protected by the federal Endangered Species Act — had been discovered in the northern portion of the park’s popular ORV area, prompting the park to close a portion of the dunes for the birds’ protection.

The park announced Friday on its Facebook page that staff have now removed the signs and orange chain that marked that area along the north ORV boundary line, opening it up again to ORV use.

A small area on the beach still remains closed off for the time being, but the ORV riding portion of the dunes are back to normal, the park said in the post, adding a thank you to riders for their patience.

Great Lakes piping plovers have been classified as federally endangered since the 1980s, when their population numbers, once estimated at up to 800 pairs, plummeted to about a dozen pairs. Conservation efforts such as restricting dune access to protect nesting areas have helped the tiny shorebirds recover to their current numbers of about 65-70 nesting pairs.

Silver Lake State Park plover updated map

A map posted on July 15, 2022 shows a section of Silver Lake State Park’s ORV area that has been reopened to ORV use after a temporary closure. The area in red is still closed off for the time being. Image by Michigan DNR

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