Ottawa County warns of beach erosion, steep drop-offs

OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. -- Tunnel Park visitors took notice of the impact high water levels and heavy wind have been having on the Lake Michigan beachfront.

“Normally, we go down to the water, but after we had that big windstorm a couple of days ago it really eroded so that there’s kind of a drop-off,” Doug Dew, a local resident said.

His wife, Carol said, “There’s quite a bit of a difference between the ledge and the water.”

The couple said they enjoy stopping by the park just about every day, however this trip was cut short and had less access.

Doug said, “We were able to dig a path a few days ago, but today it wasn’t any fun going down there because that sand stings.”

The Ottawa County Parks and Recreation Department posted a message on social media warning park visitors about erosion that's led to steep drop-offs several feet high.

Jessica Vanginhoven, a communication specialist for the parks department said, "At some of our other parks up further north, Rosy Mound Nature Area and Kirk Park, closer to West Olive and Grand Haven, we've had some stairs that we've had to remove."

"My message to visitors would be 'when you're there make sure you're keeping an eye on signage. If there's a trail that's been re-routed or closed please take another path,'" she said.

Vanginhoven says staff are closely monitoring beachfront and responding accordingly as conditions change fairly quickly.

"It's our goal to make sure people get the best possible access to Lake Michigan at those parks so that's what we're trying to keep up with," she explained.

Vanginhoven says it'll take much more erosion to have to completely shut off access to the parks. Visitors are advised not to tamper with warning signs and caution tape.

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