A definition of Shoreline erosion: “a necessary change in the dunes topography of the southeast shoreline of Lake Michigan over a long cyclical pattern of high and low water levels.”

This process consumes and deposits millions of cubic yards of sand along Lake Michigan on a monthly basis. 

According to the Army Corps of Engineers, the great lakes have a natural cycle that lasts approximately 30 years. This means they will reach a high water level and a low water level over a period of roughly 30 years. This is of course an approximation but should give us some perspective. 

Instead, our perspective focuses on a single year or two. Let’s take for example the construction at 3698 Lakeshore Drive. That lot sold and the house was built over the course of the last two years. It was built so close to the lake that after only one season of use it is now in danger of falling into the lake.

As a resident here the first time I saw the “for sale” sign on that lot I was Very saddened.

As we build closer and closer to the lake, we try to solidify the edges by creating “shoreline erosion protection” that attempts to make the shoreline a definitive permanent line in the sand.

A definitive permanent line in the sand ?!!?!! Shoreline protection is no more permanent on the lakes cyclical basis than a line drawn in the sand with your finger is on a calm summer day.

I have photographic evidence of our community beach having lost over 100,000 yards of sand over the course of two significant wind events within weeks of each other this year. During Lake Michigan’s recent record high-levels  it has consumed many beaches in our area. This consumption is a natural event that is critical to the lakes healthy state. Every time we attempt to solidify the edge of the lake we damage that natural process. We draw those lines with structures to protect building materials, waste water systems and many other things very detrimental to the lake. When the lake consumes these things they end up washed up on beaches and mixed in with our fresh water.

If we want to preserve one of the largest freshwater resources on the planet we need  to learn to live on the far end of the lakes maximum levels instead of building on the beach during its minimum levels! Until then all we are doing is drawing a line in the sand to be consumed by the next wave.


Christian Siewert

Structural Tree Assessor

Tree Risk Assessment





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