Rec., Birdwatching, & Tours

Recreation, Birdwatching, & Tours

RecreationBirdwatchingToursWildlife Habitat Certification

Opportunities for recreation abound at the wastewater facility on its vast tracts of open land. Be sure to obtain the appropriate passes and permits from the office before you venture out. All visits are subject to VISITOR PASS TERMS AND CONDITIONS


Apply for a Visitor Pass


The John J. Helstrom Nature Trail
A Nature Trail on site provides for education and recreation

Hunting and Trapping
A variety of opportunities exist for hunters at the wastewater.

Mosquito Creek Trails
One of the Premiere non-motorized trails is located on our site!

Muskegon Astronomical Society
The Muskegon Astronomical Society maintains an observatory on site.

M.M.A.R. – Muskegon Michigan Area Rocketry Launch Site
The Muskegon Michigan Area Rocketry launch site is on the property.

Snowmobile Trails
Over 10 miles of groomed snowmobile trails pass through the property.

Radio Controlled Airplane Field
The Port City RC Club maintains their field on the site.

West Michigan Area RC Club
The West Michigan Area RC Club has an area reserved for its use.

The variety of habitat at the Wastewater System includes over 1,000 acres of even-aged conifer and dryland white and black oak woodlots; over 5,000 acres of alfalfa, corn, and soybean cropland; 20 miles of drainage ditches, 60 acres of treatment ponds, 11 miles of shoreline around 1,700 acres of storage lagoons; a few hundred acres of natural upland grasslands; and assorted wetland marshes and potholes. Because of this, the 11,000-acre treatment plant is considered one of the best birding sites in Michigan. At least 256 species of birds have been documented at the facility (two-thirds of all species ever recorded in Michigan). Possibly the rarest bird ever documented in the state was seen here in April of 1985, a White Wagtail.

Tens of thousands of geese and ducks spend part of the winter at the site, sharing the area with Bald Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, Snowy Owls, Snow Buntings, plovers, sandpipers, and dozens of other bird species. At other times of the year, birders might see Red Phalarope, Greater White-fronted Goose, Eurasian Wigeon, Gyrfalcon, Eared Grebe, or American White Pelican.

The Muskegon facility is located adjacent to the Muskegon State Game Area, which helps draw birds to the wastewater system. Birders are welcome at the facility provided they obtain a pass at the wastewater system office before touring the site. Birders that can show membership in a birding organization can be issued annual passes. Contact the office at 231-724-3440 for more information.

MCWMS Birding Guidelines Brochure
An informative handout providing helpful information to those interested in visiting the plant property for bird watching.

Muskegon County Nature Club
This link to our local Audubon Club and their activities has a lot of information regarding birding at the plant. Click here for a list of recent sightings.

MDNR Waterfowl Bird Counts
This is a link to the weekly waterfowl bird counts taken during the fall by MDNR State Game Area staff

We’d be glad to have you visit! Tours can be arranged for your group by contacting:

Steve Barnard, Wastewater Safety & Technical Coordinator, at 231-724-3441 or [email protected]

Muskegon County Wastewater has gained Conservation Certification through the Wildlife Habitat Council. Much work by employee volunteers was done to help gain and maintain this certification. Current projects include: Bluebird house box monitoring, a nature trail, habitat enhancement and partnership with Pheasants Forever. Stop by to see our work in action or visit the Council’s website at :      Wildlife Habitat Council

We are also seeking volunteers for the nest box monitoring program. Those interested should go the the following link or call Anita Friend at 231-724-3457

Wildlife Habitat Council

Another ongoing project is Forestry and Wildlife Management. This process is formalized through our Forestry Management Plan. Click here to view: Forestry Management Plan