More beach, boat access planned from coastal grants


A rocky Lake Superior shore. Image: Lucas Ludwig via Unsplash

By Lindsay M. McCoy
Capital News Service

Coastal restoration efforts are underway across the state as recipients of the Michigan Coastal Management Program grants begin work locally.

Funding comes from the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.

Seventeen awards totaling more than $1.1 million will fund projects and initiatives to protect, preserve and enhance the state’s coastal resources.

“In Michigan we have the nation’s longest freshwater coastline at 3,288 (miles),” said Ronda Wuycheck, the program manager. “We are a very large state with a lot of partners and a lot of communities.”

Wuycheck said the program has five focus areas: public access, coastal hazards such as erosion and flooding projects, coastal habitat, coastal community development and coastal waters.

The program also provides assistance in handling projects and coastal hazards.

One past project was restoring the Grand Haven lighthouse, and this year the program is working with the Hancock in the Northwestern Upper Peninsula to restore a streambank damaged by erosion.

Bay City, which received $80,000, recently began work on its restoration project.

“We’re looking to take these 1970s boat launches and modernize them to make them more usable,” said Tim Botzau, the city’s parks and environmental affairs manager.

The city is using the grant to evaluate its existing boat launches and their potential relocation and the possibility of adding kayak and paddleboard launches.

“We have a lot of special events, and the launch gets closed almost every other weekend because of events being set up there,” Botzau said. “There’s another location that we own just a short way away, and we’re seeing if it’s a viable option to relocate it out of the main park area.”

Crowded outdoor areas motivated Petoskey to apply for funding to expand beach access along its Little Traverse Wheelway trail, said Kendall Klingelsmith, the city’s parks and recreation director.

“Ever since COVID, we’ve really been inundated with people who just want to be outside in natural areas,” said Klingelsmith.

The city received $112,500 in funding.

The project will include adding a walkway to the beach, shore stabilization and plantings.

“This is going to afford us, and the citizens and visitors, to be able to go down and pick Petoskey stones. They can swim and play with their kids, do whatever really without leaving town,” he said.

Marquette will use its grant for native plants to restore its shorelines. The city received its $200,000 grant with a 50/50 match in 2021 and began the construction phase this April.

“We are restoring what we consider a critical section of an impacted coastline and we are going to be doing that with natural infrastructure,” said Dennis Stachewicz, Marquette’s director of community development.

Stachewicz said his agency will rebuild sand dunes, create a coastal wetland for a stormwater retention basin and replant vegetation that promotes restoration of the coastal forest.

The project will take place along the city’s Lakeshore Boulevard and is on track to be completed by July.

The project’s goal is to lessen the impact of high lake levels and erosion due to storms.

“The current in Lake Superior had changed in such a way that it was knocking out part of the shoreline in the area, creating some flooding, so this is an attempt to restore that,” said Stachewicz.

Stachewicz said creating a resilient shoreline is essential to lessen the adverse impacts of high water levels.

“The resiliency of the coastline is extremely important. And the double bonus here is that we are doing it in an environmentally friendly way.”

Among the other grant recipients are the Allegan County Road Commission, Michigan Technological University, Huron Clinton Metropolitan Authority and Huron Pines in Gaylord.

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