Holland State Park likely to close Lake Michigan pier in unsafe conditions

HOLLAND, MI – A gate will soon be erected on the pier at Holland State Park to prevent visitors from venturing out when conditions are too dangerous.

Officials say the gate will also block access to the pier throughout the winter, with a few exceptions, such as fishing, which state and local leaders are trying to resolve.

The goal is to have the barrier in place by late fall, according to Ron Olson, chief of parks and recreation at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

“(We wanted) a definable barrier out there when the weather is compromised, or bad, to keep people out,” Olson said.

Olson said that as a general rule, the door will likely be closed all winter and whenever a red flag is flown. A red flag indicates unsafe swimming conditions.

The jetty becomes dangerous in high wave situations as water can surge over the jetty and drag people into the lake. One person drowned because of what happened earlier this year.

The MNR, owner of the park, is partnering with Park Township on the gate project. The US Army Corps of Engineers, owner of the pier, approved the construction of the gate.

Bypassing the closed gate to access the pier doesn’t come with a fine, Olson said.

The gate will serve as a reminder of dangerous conditions and hopefully visitors will use common sense, he said.

This has been the deadliest year on Lake Michigan in at least a decade, according to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project. So far, 54 people have drowned in the lake, including three in Holland State Park.

Related: The Deadliest Big Lake: An MLive Documentary Video

Olson said the DNR had conducted marketing campaigns to warn visitors of the dangers of the lake and to be alert to swimming conditions.

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