Erosion is a constant concern along the shoreline of Lake Michigan and the other Great Lakes. While some erosion is natural and unpreventable, you can take steps to protect both the local environment and your own property through effective lake shoreline erosion control solutions.
What Causes Great Lakes Shoreline Erosion?
Strong winds, intense rainstorms, and heavy waves cause a steady amount of erosion along the Great Lakes.
Gusts of wind can blow away sand and soil that protects the roots of local plants. Those plants hold lower levels of the soil in place, and if they die away, the soil will become even more vulnerable to erosion from wind.
Heavy rains and flooding can wash away sand and soil from the shoreline and carry it out into the lakes. Strong waves and chunks of ice along the shoreline can also steadily break off pieces of the beach and carry them away.
Is Great Lakes Erosion Getting Worse?
Commercial and residential development along the Great Lakes has led to increased erosion since it removes plants that protect the shoreline. The effects of erosion from the lakes themselves are also much larger when the water level is higher.
Over the last 10 to 15 years, the water levels of the Great Lakes dropped to extreme lows before going up to record highs. While the water levels have subsided in recent years, there’s no guarantee that the trend will continue. Scientists say that climate change will continue to influence the water levels of the lakes and lead to an increase in flooding events. These factors may make it difficult to predict erosion in Michigan and neighboring states over the coming years.
The Environmental Impact of Erosion in Michigan
The shoreline of the Great Lakes fosters a rich ecosystem where fish, birds, insects, amphibians, and other creatures make their habitats and feed. The shoreline provides a place for fish to spawn and hide, frogs to lay eggs, and birds to feed on underwater plants.
Erosion can chip away at these natural habitats and destroy the plants that these animals need for their food and habitat. The sediment that is washed into the lakes can also muddy the waters and interfere with aquatic wildlife.
Poorly designed and implemented efforts to prevent or walk back erosion can also have negative impacts on the local environment. For instance, steel sea walls may protect the beach from erosion, but they also force the energy from the lakes’ waves downward, which causes lake-bed scouring beneath the surface of the water.
Beach nourishment must also be done carefully by trained professionals to avoid hurting local wildlife. If done incorrectly, beach nourishment can disrupt nesting areas and bury plants. The wrong kind of sand can also disrupt local wildlife by changing the pH level of the beach.
The Human Impact of Great Lakes Erosion
As many residents saw during the record-high water levels of the past few years, erosion can have a profound impact on the homes and businesses along the Great Lakes. Erosion can strike quickly, especially for seasonal residents of the lakeshore who may not realize how bad the situation is until it’s too late.
Many homes were threatened, damaged, or destroyed due to erosion collapsing the ground beneath them. Not to mention the loss of docks, decks, boathouses, and other structures along the water’s edge. Many residents can no longer enjoy their beaches the way they once did, as the erosion has broken pieces away to leave steep and dangerous cliffs.
There are less obvious impacts of erosion as well, such as the buildup of sediment along the lake bed, which requires expensive dredging to fix or else the areas become dangerous for ships and boats that travel them.
Great Lakes Erosion Control from Superior
Superior Groundcover provides a wide range of Great Lakes erosion control services that protect and promote the local ecosystem. Our services include seeding and composting as well as planting dune grass to encourage the growth of vegetation that will prevent erosion.
We can also provide beach nourishment with our sand installation services and geotextile tubes that provide a barrier against further erosion. We use SOX Erosion SolutionsTM that provide a stable place for plants to take root and grow, which helps build new habitats for wildlife.
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Ready to start building erosion control solutions for your property? Reach out to our team to find out how Superior Groundcover can help.