Last December the National Park Service (NPS) invited the public to comment
on the pressing problem of shoreline erosion at Indiana Dunes National
Lakeshore, as part of the process to develop a long-term plan to restore and
manage the Dunes.
The results of
this “public scoping”: mixed, it would seem, with no obvious consensus among
the 24 persons and groups providing input.
As the Shoreline
Restoration and Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement, released
this summer, suggests, commenters were divided on the subject of “soft or
natural” shoreline restoration tools and “hard or manmade” ones.
concerns” of those favoring a soft solution “were protecting habitat,
maintaining a natural viewshed, and not causing additional disruptions to
sand movement in the area.” Those of persons favoring a hard solution: “the
need for a permanent solution that would protect homes and public
infrastructure along the shoreline.”
commenters championed sand-bypass systems and dredging.
A selection of
comments, as made available in the Public Scoping Comment Analysis Report at
would like to only see soft, natural solutions implemented because hardened
structures tend to push the problems further down the shoreline.”
issues become (moot) when waves destroy vegetation. (Too) much emphasis is
placed on natural protections that the lake can wipe out in minutes when the
north wind sets in for 24 hours.”
are dangerous for paddlers and swimmers.”
damage already inflicted upon INDU’s nearshore dunal ecosystems as a result
of existing manmade structures, it is not in the best interest of natural
resource stewardship for the NPS to construct more hard structures in the
lake like breakwaters and jetties that have already proven to significantly
disrupt natural sand movement along the shoreline.”
of a permanent slurry pump at the east side of Michigan City Harbor.”
strongly prefers the use of direct sand replenishment. In fact I see no
downside to filling in the entire triangle south of a line between the west
end of Portage Lakefront and the end of the jetty. This would place a
developing fore-dune right in front of the Pavilion . . . . (and) might also
provide a sand repository large enough to require less periodic
replenishment at this site.”
•“I am NOT a
proponent of a permanent sand bypass system. It requires too much costly
engineering, too much initial cost, and appears to be impractical from
cost effective solution would be a sand bypass system that runs from the
area near NIPSCO water intake to west of Burns Waterway near Portage
The public will
again have a chance to comment, sometime in the fall or winter, after a
draft plan and environmental impact statement have been prepared.
problem with shoreline erosion is that the development of the Michigan City
Harbor—with its jetty and breakwater—has altered the natural movement along
the Lake Michigan shoreline, with the result, for instance, that the dune at
Mt. Baldy used to be “more than 100 yards farther north than it is now,” as
National Lakeshore Superintendent Constantine Dillon put it last year in an
issue of Singing Sands.
So there’s too
much sand east of the Michigan City Harbor and Burns International Harbor
and outright sand starvation to the west of those developed areas.
would include the planting of dunes grasses and the installation of organic
materials like coconut fibers.
would include the construction of revetments, bulkheads, and breakwaters and
the stone armoring of the lake bottom.