Researchers studying Weko Beach shoreline

Published: Apr. 22, 2023 at 11:32 PM EDT
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BRIDGMAN, Mich. (WNDU) - The April Showers graced Michiana this Earth Day, but that didn’t keep people from helping clean up Weko Beach.

Organized by Bridgman’s Shoreline Resiliency Committee, folks got a preview of Michigan State University’s Citizen-Science Coastal Change Monitoring Program before picking up trash.

Each year, rainwater and crashing waves shift southwestern Michigan beaches, and researchers say they want a better understanding of these rapidly changing lake levels.

Using drones, they gather data and map about five miles of Lake Michigan shoreline over an extended period.

“Well, you know, we’re still trying to understand the fluctuations in our shoreline,” says Eugene Schoon, President of the Bridgman Shoreline Resilience Committee. “This is our most important asset for people who live in and near the shore in Southwest Michigan. We have this beautiful beach, but we need to know what’s going to happen in the long term because we’re looking at the generations ahead. We’re looking at things like planning, zoning, setback lines, and all those sorts of things. So, that’s really our focus, is trying to add to the knowledge base and hopefully be able to make better decisions going forward.”

Every year, thousands of volunteers participate in cleanups around all five Great Lakes and remove tens of thousands of pounds of garbage.

Local aviation expert Gary Blied pilots the drone that will document shoreline changes.

Michigan State student and research technician Brendan Burchi with MSU’s Coastal Processes and Geomorphology Lab provided a demonstration on coastline monitoring.

Grants from the National Science Foundation’s Coastline and People are helping fund this project.

The beach cleanup was organized by the Alliance for the Great Lakes Adopt-a-Beach program.

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