LANSING – Record-high water levels are taking a toll on infrastructure across the state as flooding and erosion continue to threaten shorelines, rivers and inland lakes, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Michigan’s waterways face other associated challenges, too, including increased river flows, submerged docks and piers, swimming and boating hazards, and damage to wildlife habitat.
Several state parks and harbors are experiencing many of these issues. Tawas Point State Park – the popular destination along Lake Huron in Iosco County – has experienced unprecedented water levels, erosion and flooding over the last few years, as well as record-breaking rainfall last month, the DNR announced in a news release last week.
As a result, Tawas Point State Park has closed or altered many amenities and services for the 2020 season:
• The park’s one entrance road (which provides access to all park areas) is closed to vehicle traffic between the contact station and the day-use area, but the road is open to visitors on foot.
• The park’s day-use area is open for biking, hiking, bird watching and more. Limited parking is available near the contact station for visitors to park and walk or bike the roughly half-mile to the day-use area. Carpooling is recommended, and drop-off/pickup of visitors is allowed.
• The pavilion, lighthouse and gift shop and Tawas Point Grille in the day-use area are closed for the season.
• The modern campground is open, but many campsites are unavailable due to flooding. Updates on affected campsites will be posted each Thursday at Michigan.gov/TawasPoint.
• The Fox Den and Tawas Bay cabins are closed for the season, but the yurt and two mini cabins are available for reservations.
• Portions of the Sandy Hook Nature Trail are closed.
Micah Jordan, Tawas Point State Park supervisor, suggested that people who have difficulty finding desired reservations at that park should consider Harrisville State Park, just 30 miles north and offering many of the same park amenities.
For more information, contact Jordan at 362-5041 or JordanM2@Michgan.gov.
Other state park, harbor
closures along Great Lakes
Last month, the Army Corps of Engineers reported that Great Lakes levels likely will stay well above long-term averages, and that levels on lakes Michigan and Huron are 3 feet higher than average. Many DNR-managed sites and facilities have high water-related closures:
• Hammond Bay State Harbor is closed for the 2020 season.
• Ludington State Park’s Jack Pine Campground is closed until further notice.
• Muskegon State Park’s Channel Campground will not take advance reservations during the 2020 season.
• Lime Island Recreation Area is closed for the 2020 season due to submerged docks.
• Mackinac Island State Harbor’s electrical conduits are submerged; no electrical service is available this season.
• A handful of campsites at Harrisville, Leelanau, Muskegon and Young state parks are closed.
• More than 20 boating access sites are closed.
Bookmark the webpage Michigan.gov/DNRClosures for the latest information.
For more information about state harbors, contact Linnae Dawson, recreational harbor coordinator, at 517-290-2200 or DawsonL@Michigan.gov.
High-water safety information and resources
Higher waters create additional safety concerns. For example, wakes can cause overflow onto land or docks, meaning that someone could more easily be knocked off a dock. Extra caution is needed when swimming, boating or fishing, too, because higher waters can cause stronger, faster currents (especially around river outlets and piers), deeper and colder water, unpredictable conditions and more debris floating under the water’s surface.
When visiting state park swim areas, pay attention to the beach flag warning system and frequently check it for updated warnings; conditions can quickly change. Red flags indicate the water is unsafe and no one should swim in or enter the water.