New MSU study to help save eroding shorelines in Chikaming Township & South Haven

Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 5:44 PM EDT
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CHIKAMING TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WNDU) - As record high lake levels continue to dominate the Michigan coast, shorelines in South Haven and Chikaming Township continue to crumble.

It is for that reason why Erin Bunting, who is an assistant geography and environment professor at Michigan State University, is making these two towns part of a new concentrated coastal study.

“Those two areas came up heavily as being important to the study because they have been affected by the high lake level, they are actively developing new management procedures and policies in place, and they are seeing a lot of damage already,” Bunting says.

Bunting says the study will focus on six coastal communities in Michigan, including South Haven and Chikaming Township, and concentrate on answering questions researchers have had a tough time answering.

“If you look long into the future, there is a lot of variability, there is a lot of question marks because we don’t know what the lake level is going to do,” Bunting says.

Which is why this study will include using two key components to monitor those lake levels. The first component, aerial drone footage.

The second, an app Bunting says researchers are developing that is expected to launch at the end of the April that residents can utilize.

“If you are walking along the beach and you see a coastal hazard, event, infrastructure damage, anything that is of concern to you or to your community, you can take a picture of it and upload it to our database,” Bunting says.

A database that hopefully, by study’s-end, will help communities save and protect their shoreline.

“We are not just coming in to collect data and run away. This is not just a one-and-done. There is going to be times the lake-levels will go up again and understanding these coast lines and where to really focus on when the lake level goes up again is very important,” Bunting says.

According to Bunting, the study is expected to take two whole years to complete.

For more information about this study, or to access any data or view drone footage regarding this study in real time, please visit RSGIS.MSU.EDU.

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