Once we understand that the Glass V. Goeckel case did not guarantee the public sand on which to walk along the Lade across private property but only created a “very limited” easement to walk on PRIVATE PROPERTY along the edge of the Lake whatever the surface might be, we need to understand that a “revetment” is the opposite of “hard armor.” A revetment is the placement of boulders and rocks in a fashion that will absorb the force of the Lake Michigan waves; not repel them.

Revetments are favored by EGLE and USACE over solid walls precisely because they are not “hard armor.” If you want to see why and how a revetment absorbs the waves without pushing sand far out into the Lake take a look at the revetments created around houses up and down the Lake. The waves come in high but are very quickly dissipated. It appears like the water is sucked down into the rocks. The sloped pile of boulders (a slope between 2 foot horizontal for 1 foot vertical and 3 foot vertical versus 1 foot vertical) dissipates the waves as they roll up the boulders before the waves hit anything solid. And then the boulders slow the receding waters so less sand is taken out into the water.

A solid wall, or even sandbags that do not respect good slope science, bounce the wave action back into the Lake in a way that both digs a hole in front of the “solid armor” and pushes sand further out into the Lake so reliction and accretion do not do their jobs of restoring beaches and covering the protection devices with sand when the Lake levels go back down. The Lake takes down the armor and pulls the sand further out into Lake.

That is why solid walls without revetments in front of them are no longer recommended and rarely permitted by the USACE or EGLE. You can use hard armor out of the reach of the water to stop sand from slipping down a hill (check out Warwick Shores protection of their swimming pool). But not as protection against storm waves.

Finally, we need to learn from history that doing nothing to protect property on Lake Michigan usually harms your neighbor, especially your neighbor to the south or west. There is a family in a local Village that constructed a great revetment in front of their house. The Village has a beach to the northerly side of the house. The Village did nothing to protect its land and the water continued to eat away the sand along the side of the house, so the owner had to put his house on helical pillars and create an additional revetment all the way back to where the road revetment anchors the land to the northeast of the house.

If the property owners to the north of Cherry Beach Parking are not permitted to do more than the Township proposes it will be just a matter of time before Chikaming loses its Cherry Beach parking lot. Maybe not this round of high water, but certainly in the future. Doing nothing is usually much worse for your neighbors than creating a revetment.

One final “Caveat.” When you check out houses with revetments as you walk along the Lake, Please RESPECT THE OWNERS. They have children who get spooked by people approaching the house to check things out. REMEMBER Glass V. Goeckel says that YOU ARE TRESPASING IF YOU STOP WALKING TO CHECK OUT THE HOUSE OR REVETMENT.

Dan Coffey

Union Pier

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