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Region 8

Region 8 is one of Michigan’s 14 regional planning organizations and serves communities in Allegan, Ionia, Kent, Mecosta, Montcalm, Osceola, and Ottawa Counties.  This Map shows the location of Region 8 and the seven counties within the Region’s boundaries, along with the boundaries of each of the counties and the locations of the cities and villages. 


Population Trends and Projections

Region 8’s population increased by 39.8 percent between 1980 and 2010 to reach a total of 1,171,404.  The seven-county area grew at a much faster rate than Michigan, which increased by 6.7 percent during the same period to reach 9,883,640.  Projections indicate continued growth in Region 8 and a turnaround in Michigan that includes population increases (Michigan’s population decreased by 0.6 percent between 2000 and 2010).  


The Region 8 Demographic Profile shows population traits, trends and projections as well as housing traits, income and business traits, and employment traits and trends.


Natural Features

Region 8 has many unique natural features that vary across the Region. 


While only Allegan and Ottawa counties are located on Lake Michigan, the Lake’s influence is felt across all seven counties.  Lake Michigan creates a more moderate climate (cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter), and also creates “Lake Effect” snowstorms that decrease in intensity further inland.


The Region’s three major rivers include the Grand River, the Muskegon River, and the Kalamazoo River.  There are dozens of smaller rivers all of which either flow into one of the major rivers or into Lake Michigan.  Additionally, the Region has hundreds of inland lakes.


The Region’s topography is generally flat to rolling with elevations ranging from Lake Michigan’s elevation of 581 feet above mean sea level to 1,739 feet above mean sea level in Osceola Township’s Sherman Township.


The Region’s wildlife is typical of that found in most of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.  Common wildlife includes deer, raccoons, opossums, skunks, rabbits, badgers, muskrats, beavers, squirrels, rodents and other small mammals.  There are also occasional observations of other animals such as bears, coyotes, and bobcats.  The area is home to a variety of birds including owls, wild turkeys, pheasants and many others.  The area is also a seasonal home to many migratory birds including ducks and Canada Geese.


The Region was originally covered with a dense forest of deciduous and coniferous trees.  As the area was cleared for farming and development, or the trees were removed for timber, the area’s forests were replaced by farm fields, open field areas, orchards and smaller forested areas containing both deciduous and coniferous trees.


To showcase the Region’s natural features there are many Michigan State Parks, State Recreation Areas, State Forests, and State Game Areas.  Additionally, there are parks maintained by each of the seven counties, all of the cities, most villages, and many townships. 


Transportation Network

Region 8 is well-served by a network of roads maintained by the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Region’s seven county road commissions, and the Region’s cities and villages.  Very few townships are responsible for maintaining roads.  In addition to roads, the transportation network includes airports, rail, and transit.