Sometimes when I am having my cup of morning coffee and perusing the good old Facebook news feed, I come across something that sparks my mind — that says, “Right there! You have to write about that!”
Today, what caught my eye was an item announcing that the levels of the Great Lakes are rising! Rising so much that beaches and shorelines are eroding! Why, Lake Huron has risen something like 34 inches!
Water and waves and erosion, oh my!
Let’s see. It was just a little over 15 years ago that Tom and I were frequently visiting the Tawas City, MI, area and finding that lake levels were dropping quite drastically. We were seeing things along the shores of Lake Huron and Tawas Bay — old pilings and rocks and ships’ skeletons — that we’d not seen in several years of frequenting the area. One small inland lake nearby actually disappeared completely. If you followed the sign for “Lake Chappelle – Lakefront Lots!” you came to a large dry bowl at the end of the road. It didn’t even support lake-type weeds any more.
Panic gripped the populace. Tourism would be dead! Michigan’s economy would fail, because it relied so heavily on tourism!
At the time, I kept remembering articles I’d read in the not-too-distant past about increasingly high water levels in the Great Lakes causing shoreline and beach erosion. I recalled articles cautioning against building homes and cottages on the high bluffs overlooking parts of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron because erosion had caused some such structures to collapse.
So, a recap: According to NOAA data, around 1985, high water levels and lake shore erosion created big concerns; in the early 2000s, shrinking water levels were a problem such that we saw docks that extended over many yards of mud before reaching open water; and after 2013, the lake levels began rising again. If one looks at historical records, one sees a cycle, 15-20 years in length, of waxing and waning water levels in the Great Lakes and, to some extent, in inland lakes. By the way, that little lake that disappeared in the mid-1990s? It’s back, and someone made a sizable financial haul selling those (finally) lakefront lots and building homes on them.
A cycle. Who knew? No matter what we humans do, the forces of nature will have their way. We humans strive for some kind of permanency and stability, we strive to control our habitat and surroundings so that we can assure our lasting comfort among them. And all the while, nature will have its way. The house on the bluff that cries out to be built in the days of low water levels will end up floating in the drink when the water levels rise again.
The moral of the story: If you live long enough, everything will change. Again.
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