The National Park
Service (NPS) has abandoned a plan to construct a “cobble berm” under 10
feet of water off Crescent Dune east of Mt. Baldy, after NPS received
“substantive comment” from the public objecting to the plan.
The cobble berm had
been the preferred alternative of a draft “Shoreline Restoration and
Management Plan” for Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, aimed at combating
beach erosion, caused by man-made structures--like the Michigan City
Harbor--which are interfering with the normal flow of sand to the west.
As NPS announced
last week, however, the cobble berm has been replaced with a new
alternative: a hybrid of several other alternatives providing for beach
nourishment which incorporates natural small stones mixed with sand at the
As Dr. Charles
Morris, a biologist at the National Lakeshore, told the Chesterton
Tribune at an information session Monday evening at the Dorothy Buell
Memorial Visitor Center, the cobble berm would never have been anything but
a temporary installation, whose whole point was to disintegrate over time
into the substrate of the shoreline, covering and stabilizing the aggregate
material of the lakebed. “It was designed to fail,” Morris said.
however, made its feelings about a cobble berm pretty clear, “such that we
felt a change in our position was appropriate,” Morris noted.
Morris did say that
cobble berm was one of a number of initial shortlisted alternatives, all of
which NPS determined would meet the objectives of restoring the National
Lakeshore shoreline. “But there was a miscue in how we presented it,” he
said. The draft drawing represented it “as a structure” and “that set people
in the wrong direction from the start.” And the word itself--“cobble”--gave
folks an incorrect impression of the size and durability of the materials
which would have comprised the berm.
Among the public’s
objections--which accounted for “the largest numbers” of the 99 comments
submitted to NPS--were the following:
* The draft EIS
“does not fully address the effects of the cobble berm on existing
* The draft EIS
“does not fully address the ecological consequences of placing large
quantities of cobble on the lakebed, nor does it provide sufficient evidence
that these materials are a natural component of the system.”
* Drawings in the
draft EIS “do not accurately present the placement of the cobble berm nor
does it provide adequate information on how the berm will be marked to
minimize the risk to recreational boating craft.”
proposed cobble berm was the right and natural thing to do, given the
public’s feelings about it, Morris said. And the new alternative--a
nourishment plan using small stones mixed with sand--actually duplicates
conditions at Dunbar Beach in Beverly Shores, downdrift from Crescent Dunes.
“We sampled the
conditions at Dunbar Beach and used that material as our standard,” Morris
said. “We don’t intend to create a situation on the shoreline that doesn’t
NPS heeded public
comment in one other way, Morris noted: by increasing the proposed frequency
of beach nourishment in reaches 3 and 4--which includes the Portage
Lakefront and Riverwalk site and West Beach--to every year, instead of every
five years. “The public preferred it be done annually,” he said.