beaches

The Environment Report
1:45 pm
Thu June 12, 2014

Big increase in the number of fatal drownings in the Great Lakes

One way to prevent fatal drownings is to know what drowning looks like. Pay attention to these five signs.
GLSRP.org

Swimmers and boaters in Michigan need to be more careful on the water.

"We're at 23 fatal drownings on the five Great Lakes so far this year. It's about 50% up from last year at this time," says Bob Pratt, the director of education at The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project. He says many recent deaths have been boaters who were swimming or they ran into trouble while boating on the lakes. 

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Environment & Science
11:31 am
Mon August 5, 2013

Drownings in Lake Michigan prompt calls for new beach warning signs

Could beach flags help in Michigan? (Warning flags on Paradise Beach.) Some residents are calling for yard signs to warn visitors.
Michael Dawes Flickr

After two drownings in Lake Michigan in recent weeks, some are calling for a better warning system when beach conditions are dangerous.

The Muskegon Chronicle's Lisha Arino reports on an idea being proposed from Hugh and Kathleen Kallen.

The couple was moved to develop a new approach after 15-year-old Raybeon Jenkins drowned in the waters off Pere Marquette Park.

Not long after the incident, it moved them to do something to help prevent another drowning.

Their plan: create yard signs that would notify beachgoers of dangerous swimming conditions.

"We wanted to do something for the next rip current day because there aren't any warnings posted on the severe days," said Kathleen.

The couple wants residents to put up yard signs, similar to political yard signs, on days when hazardous conditions are predicted.

There are permanent signs warning visitors of possible dangerous waters, but nothing to indicate current conditions.

Ocean communities work with beach flag warning systems. The International Life Saving Federation has a document showing the standards for this flag warning system.

The Environment Report
8:55 am
Thu June 13, 2013

Safety info now part of Great Lakes beach app

The myBeachCast app shows weather and water conditions, and whether there are any safety or water quality alerts.
Great Lakes Commission

Before you head to the beach this summer, you might want to check on the conditions.

There’s a free beach app you can get for your Android phone.  It’s called myBeachCast.

You can bookmark your favorite Great Lakes beaches, find out the wind and water conditions, and check to see if there are any beach closings for a particular day.

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Environment & Science
10:49 am
Tue May 29, 2012

Michigan Senate scraps DEQ permit for beach grooming

Rebecca Williams Michigan Radio

Let’s say you own a beach house. You might want to pull out some plants or mow them or smooth out the sand to make it look nice.

At the moment, if you want to do any of these things, you need a permit from both the state and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Maggie Cox is with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. She says her department has to make sure everyone can walk on the beaches, and she says sensitive wetlands need to be protected.

"Your property line is down to the water’s edge – but the state also holds in trust for the public the land up to ordinary high water mark."

Last week, the Michigan Senate passed legislation that would eliminate the state permit for beach maintenance.

Several environmental groups are opposed to that.  (You can check out this Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council brochure on beach grooming.)

The DEQ’s Maggie Cox says her agency will still have oversight of beach maintenance in wetland areas.

"In areas that are mostly sand or mostly rock, you no longer have to get a permit from the department. But in areas that are wet or coastal wetlands, made up mostly of bulrush or other vegetation, you’re going to have to still come to the department and the Army Corps for a permit."

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Environment
4:39 pm
Tue July 19, 2011

Current beach closures and advisories around Michigan

There are 15 beach closings or advisories around the state.
user andrea_44 Flickr

When bacteria levels get high, county health departments close the beaches. The latest news of a beach closure is on Lake St. Clair:

A week after the Macomb County Health Department gave the all-clear message to swimmers at Memorial Park Beach in St. Clair Shores, the beach has again been deemed unsafe for swimming.

The department issued a no-swimming advisory today for the beach because of high E. coli levels

Blossom Heath in St. Clair Shores remains under the no-swimming advisory because of its E. coli levels, as it has been since May 26.

County health departments issue the warnings and closures, and the state keeps track of them.

The Michigan BeachGuard System has a map with red flags marking closures and advisories.

Currently, there are 15 advisories or closures at public beaches around the state - that's 15 out of 1,211 public beaches.

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