EXPLORE MICHIGAN: Can we save Michigan’s coastlines?

Explore Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — According to a Michigan State University associate professor, there are three certains in life.

“People say there are two things in life that are certain, and that’s death and taxes? Well there’s a third one, there’s death, taxes, and change,” said Danita Brandt, an associate professor in the department of earth and environmental sciences at MSU.

I reached out to Brandt after I saw the video of part of the cliff breaking off of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the Upper Peninsula a couple of weeks ago. Something similar happened back in 2019 at Pictured Rocks.

According to Brandt, this was a totally natural process.

“What was unusual in these last two cases is there were people there with their phones and could record those,” Brandt said.

So these events are not unheard of, but are they also happening more now than they used to?

“Certainly, we know that climate change is resulting in more severe storms,” Brandt said.

More extreme storms means more rain, faster winds, and bigger waves, all things that lead to erosion.

Yesterday Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced an $150 million investment into parks around the state.

So it’s clear Michigan values it’s outdoor activities. But Brandt said just because you care doesn’t necessarily mean there’s an easy answer.

“The earth is a dynamic system. We can’t just put a box around something and say there, we fixed it,” Brandt said. “But certainly we’d like to protect our shorelines as much as possible.”

It’s nerve wrecking watching your favorite parts of the state slowly erode, but at the end of the day, Brandt said we are all on mother nature’s timeline.

“As a geologist, taking the long view, I’ll say any contest between humans trying to modify the coast line and mother nature having the last word, it’s going to be mother nature who will have the last word, but when will that happen and on what time scale,” Brandt said.

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