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Beach walks offer opportunities to learn about lake levels, coastal hazards

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Great Lakes coastline

A walk on the beach can be relaxing, but it can also be educational.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) is partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to host community beach walks this summer. The goal of the program is to boost “Great Lakes literacy” in communities - while walking along coastlines.

Jim Selegean, a hydraulic engineer with the Corps, will be leading the walks. He said the program will allow communities to better understand Great Lakes issues like changing water levels and coastal erosion.

“It means understanding the roles all things play on the Great Lakes, so where does climate change fit into this, what’s the role of private shore protection?” he said. “I think the more you educate people about the Great Lakes, the better decisions we can all make.”

Selegean has been hosting beach walks with the Corps for the last five years, but this is the program’s first-year with EGLE.

Selegean said environmental issues are more complex than they appear to be - and learning about them can help communities be more resilient.

“I think people are naturally curious,” he said. “I think people living along shorelines want to understand what’s causing their problem.”

During walks, attendees will also learn about the Michigan Coastal Management Program’s Pathway to Resilience and receive information on grant funding.

Upcoming beach walks will take place in Port Austin, Alpena, Houghton, Escanaba, South Haven, and Ludington. For more information on upcoming beach walks, visit EGLE’s coastal management website.

Teresa Homsi is an environmental reporter and Report for America Corp Member based in northern Michigan for WCMU. She is covering rural environmental issues, public health and Michigan commerce. Homsi has a bachelor’s from Central Michigan University in environmental studies, journalism and anthropology. During her undergraduate, she was a beat reporter for CMU’s student newspaper Central Michigan Life and interned for the Huron Daily Tribune. She has also interned for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy in the superfund section. *Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms, more info at https://www.reportforamerica.org/