77ºF

Sand dune engulfs one home, endangers others

80-foot dune inches closer to Michigan cottages

photo

A sand dune is threatening to engulf multiple cottages along Lake Michigan.

The dunes are a popular tourist destination, but now the moving heaps are a danger to 10 cottages in its path, The Muskegon Chronicle reported.

One Chicago family that lost one cottage already has paid thousands and accepted favors from neighbors and area businesses, attempting to keep the 80-foot-tall dune from overtaking a second cottage, KERO reported. One of the cottage owners has donated the use of a front-end loader for sand removal.

The Chronicle reported that sand dunes are known to engulf forests or fill up parts of lakes, but it's unusual for a dune to head straight for a row of homes.

Alan Arbogast, a professor and chairman of the Michigan State University Geography Department and a national expert on sand dunes, has studied the sand dunes along Lake Michigan for years, the Chronicle reported.

"It's easy to understand the uneasiness they feel about it," Arbogast said of the dune encroaching on people's cottages.

He said wind direction, sand amounts and vegetation contribute to how or whether a dune moves or not. The dunes at Silver Lake State Park isn't a great spot for vegetation to grow due to high foot traffic and heavy off-road vehicle use.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources' Parks and Recreation Division is working with the cottage owners to address the dune threat, the Chronicle reported.