The Muskegon Environmental Research & Education Society (MERES) was established as a 501(C3) non-profit organization 1997 by members of the Muskegon Conservation Club. The goal of the organization was to provide a location where people could learn about the environment and simply enjoy nature by walking, biking or fishing.
With the donation of a 17-acre parcel of land at the mouth of the Muskegon River, MERES began the restoration and development of the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve (The Preserve). The Preserve is bordered by the Muskegon River on the south side, a wetland area bordering Muskegon Lake to the west, and to the east by the Veterans Memorial Causeway which connects the cities of Muskegon and North Muskegon. Historically, the site was used as the city dump, and later a depository for tons of broken concrete, asphalt, foundry fill and industrial scrap.
Through partnerships with businesses and organization, individual and corporate philanthropy, and thousands of hours of volunteer labor, MERES has coordinated the removal of debris and the restoration of the site into a beautiful nature preserve. Ongoing efforts to continue the removal of debris and unwanted invasive species of plants have produced a gradual return to a more natural ecosystem. Whenever possible, native Michigan plant species are used to replace non-native and invasive growth. A conservation easement managed by the Muskegon County Conservation District assures that the Preserve will maintain an environment which is as natural as possible.
The Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve also serves as a research station for amateur and professional scientists. Grand Valley State University has held both formal and informal research projects at the Preserve. The Muskegon Nature Club and researchers associated with the Audubon Society have conducted aviary studies at the preserve, banding over 1,200 birds in one recent year. Several studies have been conducted in the Preserve in conjunction with the effort to restore the Muskegon River watershed and remove Muskegon Lake from the federal Area of Concern listing.