Muskallonge Lake State Park, managed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Division, is a remote 217 acre park containing over a mile of Lake Superior shoreline. Located approximately 29 miles north of Newberry in Luce County, the park is a popular tourist destination with 159 campsites as well as day use areas.
While it’s a beautiful spot to camp or stroll along the beach, managing coastal property like this to accommodate natural coastal processes while protecting the recreational resource assets for future generations can be a real challenge.
A steep, 50-foot high bluff only 54 feet away from the park headquarters building has seriously eroded and now threatens this building and another park storage building. Storm winds and waves marching across Lake Superior can erode this bluff quickly and dramatically as evidenced by a September 2010 storm event during which 15 feet of bluff was lost. Action must soon be taken to prevent the erosion from destroying the headquarters building.
A Michigan Coastal Zone Management Program grant enabled the Department of Natural Resources to evaluate bluff recession rates, conduct a slope stability analysis of the bluff, and analyze site conditions including threatened park infrastructure and natural features. The analysis recommends relocation of the headquarters and associated buildings to eliminate the threat to park infrastructure while maintaining the beach’s recreational and ecological values. Construction of a seawall or revetment to combat erosion may have provided temporary relief from the erosion, but would come with a very high financial cost for both construction and long-term maintenance. Such a structure would also destroy the recreational beach, which is not in keeping with the management goals of the Department of Natural Resources. Designs for the relocated buildings were developed with the hope that building relocations will occur in 2015.
According to Mr. Keith Cheli, Regional Field Planner for the Department of Natural Resources, “The Coastal Zone Management grant project at the Muskallonge Lake State Park allowed the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to perform an in-depth scientific analysis of the erosion impacting the park natural resources, infrastructure, and visitor services. With the data collected and associated professional discernment, our team is able to formulate thoughtful options resulting in smarter decisions that balance our mission and obligations to be good stewards of our State of Michigan natural resources with providing public recreation opportunities. Furthermore, the technical analysis was converted into interpretive information that is being shared with the public through onsite interpretive panels and brochures to raise awareness of the shifting effects of the natural world.”
Contact Mr. Keith Cheli, Regional Field Planner, Department of Natural Resources, at 231-627-4632, or firstname.lastname@example.org, for additional information about the project.
For additional information on Michigan’s Coastal Zone Management Program, contact Matt Warner at 517-284-5051, or at email@example.com.
Additional information about the Michigan Coastal Zone Management Program is also available at www.michigan.gov/coastalmanagement.
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