- Associated Press - Thursday, July 28, 2016

CHICAGO (AP) - The southward drift of sand along the Lake Michigan shore north of Chicago created the Indiana Dunes, but that natural movement has been interrupted for 200 years by man-made structures that jut into the water.

Cities between Chicago and the Wisconsin border have addressed the problem gradually over the years, the Chicago Tribune (https://trib.in/2ajPX5G ) reported. But since 2015, public officials and government agencies have come together to develop a regional plan to manage sand along the 32-mile stretch from Evanston north to the Wisconsin state line.

The Illinois North Shore Sand Management Strategy is an initiative by the nonprofit Alliance for the Great Lakes and funded through an Illinois Department of Natural Resources grant. It invites policymakers, scientists and businesses to pinpoint issues stemming from the sand erosion and to brainstorm solutions for the region.

“We want to help communities make an informed choice on how they want to move forward as a region,” said Diane Tecic, program director of the state department’s Coastal Management Program. “There will be some trade-off here and there. There are competing interests. But we should approach it by asking, are there new ways to look at this that are going to better protect all interests that we have out there?”

At the group’s meeting in Waukegan on Tuesday, participants identified issues such as the regulatory and permit hurdles involved with transferring sand in or out of the lakeshore as well as beach erosion taking a toll on tourism.

The group agreed that the largest challenge in solving the issue will be financial. By surveying participants, the Alliance for the Great Lakes estimated that it costs $3.7 million each year to manage the public shoreline along the North Shore.

“For many of our communities, shouldering this burden alone is next to impossible. … and pulls valuable resources away from other community needs and projects,” said Jim Anderson, director of natural resources for Lake County Forest Preserves.

The group looked at other regions of the U.S. with similar issues and examined potential solutions, including adding artificial offshore reefs to protect against waves and removing some man-made shoreline structures.


Information from: Chicago Tribune, https://www.chicagotribune.com

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