Sleeping Bear Dunes seeking comment on lighthouse complex shoreline stabilization

Courtesy: National Park Service, Sleeping Bear Dunes

LEELANAU COUNTY, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU)-- Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is seeking public comment on an environmental assessment.

The National Park Service says the historic lighthouse complex on South Manitou Island is in need of shoreline stabilization due to erosion and strong waves. NPS says they have prepared an environmental assessment for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore to analyze the expected environmental impacts of implementing a proposal to stabilize the shoreline at the South Manitou Island Lighthouse Complex. The NPS is seeking public comment on this EA. The purpose of the project is to protect the lighthouse complex from shoreline retreat and loss.

The lighthouse complex is located on the southeastern shoreline of Manitou Island. Park staff say the previously installed shoreline stabilization materials have been removed by wave and/or ice action, or they are in poor condition, with many foundational elements exposed and subject to additional damage/removal. Because of this, officials say action is needed to protect the historic structure.

The goals of the project are emergency stabilization of 295 linear feet of shoreline as well as supplemental stabilization of an additional 680 feet shoreline. The EA presents and evaluates alternatives for stabilizing the shoreline and protecting the lighthouse complex.

NPS says the EA analyzes two alternatives: the no action alternative and one action alternative.

The no action alternative would include the continuation of current management, which would involve no new shoreline stabilization efforts. The action alternative would be implemented in separate phases. Initially, emergency shoreline stabilization in the central portion of the overall project area would repair and reconstruct the armor stone revetment along 295 linear feet of the shoreline adjacent to the historic fog signal building. Future phases of work would include supplemental stabilization in the areas north and south of the emergency stabilization. Supplemental stabilization to the south would repair and reconstruct the stone revetment along the remaining 130 linear feet of existing revetment. Supplemental stabilization to the north would restore approximately 550 linear feet of a more natural living shoreline for increased stability. The resulting living shoreline would consist of a combination of stone breakwaters and imported sand.

NPS says action alternative is the preferred alternative because it would best protect the nationally-significant lighthouse complex from the threat of erosion.

The public can provide comment on the environmental assessment until Aug. 1. CLICK HERE to access the public comment.

Comments may also be mailed to the National Lakeshore at: Superintendent, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, 9922 Front Street, Empire, MI 49630.

The South Manitou Island Lighthouse, which is clearly visible from the mainland, is the most familiar landmark on the island. The 100 foot lighthouse tower, which was active from 1871 to 1958, was the only natural harbor between the island and Chicago. Ships used to take refuge on the island during storms and streamers stopped at the island to refuel with wood for their boilers.

You can get to North and South Manitou Islands by private boat or by passenger ferry service run by Manitou Island Transit. The ferry service operates from the Fishtown Dock located in Leland, MI. The ferry operators have been servicing the islands for many generations and the company is still run as a family business.

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