chunk of land slides down Lake Michigan bluffs
-- A natural slough, or landslide, has claimed a sizable
chunk of the Lake Michigan bluffs north of town.
The separation and collapse of the rich,
water-laden topsoil from the red clay beneath it took dozens
of cedar, pine and birch trees and surrounding vegetation
150 feet down the bluff onto the beach.
It left a clump of trees, some 50 feet
in length and more than 75 years old, extending at all angles
well out into Lake Michigan.
A beach walker discovered the slough Tuesday.
Dale Scott, who is the supervisor in Emmet County's Friendship
Township, labeled it "another wake-up call."
"Human activity, even with roads, is changing
the way water flows from the uplands to the lakes, making
the bluffs more unpredictable than they ever have been,"
Scott told the Petoskey News-Review for a story Friday.
Emmet County planner Max Putters, who
visited the site with civil counsel Kathleen Abbott and
county controller Lyn Johnson, said the slide underscored
the need for a standard to regulate development on the bluffs.
"We're also trying to find alternative
building sites to those along the bluffs for people who
own property there," he said.
Charles Glass, a Harbor Springs attorney
and spokesman for the 565-member Emmet County Lakeshore
Association, said after visiting the site Wednesday that
the landslide was as bad as any he had seen in the 30 years
he has lived in Readmond Township.
"It's clear that what occurred was a slide,"
Glass said. "There was water underneath the topsoil and
running over the clay. The water destabilizes the topsoil,
which breaks away like an avalanche. The clay doesn't move
but remains exposed, and as water trickles down over it,
the clay is turned into a mushy gunk."
Glass said water from the spring's sudden
snow melt, augmented by heavy rains that followed, quickly
soaked the topsoil, causing it to become unstable.
It's the third major slide within a 300-yard
span, he said.
"To people who have been expressing doubt
about the dangers to the bluff, this new slide demonstrates
there's a major problem with building on or close to the
bluffs," Glass said.
The county planning commission is developing
a steep slopes ordinance.
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