Over the years, the lake shore and sand dunes lining the southern shores of Lake Michigan have become crowded with grandiose homes and and small beach cottages. One area in particular has seen tremendous growth of private residences. The south eastern shore line along southern Michigan and down into Northwestern Indiana is now mostly covered by homes overlooking the water that were built on top of sand dunes.
Many of these homes were built in a time period when lake shore conservation was a non issue. Erosion of the lake shore due to natural reshaping of the dunes by wind and the ever present rise and fall of the water levels of the lake have been exacerbated by construction along the shore line, the removal of native dune grasses, and expanding development. Many homes along the lake shore now find themselves in peril due to this unstoppable erosion.
Years ago, when the lake levels were lower than they are today, retaining walls were built to preserve the dunes that these houses were built upon. As the lake levels rose, wave action and heavy storms battered the lake shore, and the retaining walls that were not designed to be pounded by lake water. Now, years later, there are plenty of property owners scrambling to fix their shorelines and preserve their homes and property from lake erosion.
The linked South Bend Tribune article discusses some of these issues, and the headaches relating to the changes of the lake shore and the challenges that property owners along the lake shore now face.
In hindsight, had the communities along the shore line had the foresight to look into the high and low records of the lake levels, they may have been able to plan for the inevitable beating that the lake shore would be bound to take as the lake levels rose and fell over the years.
The article also discusses the erosion of the beaches along the southern shores of Lake Michigan. Erosion is a major concern for the entire beach-town community as the sand washes away, narrowing the beaches. Much effort has gone into restoration and preservation of the shoreline. As the community populations grow, more human interference in the natural shaping of the shoreline by the lake is bound to cause more problems in the future. Perhaps it is time that we really understand the impact that we have on the environment around us, and show a little respect for the natural order of things by planning our developments in ways that do not disrupt nature, but rather become a part of nature.