Thanks to The Braun/McVeigh Family Matching Gift Challenge, support for this project will be matched dollar-for-dollar up to $50,000.
Home to many native plant species and unique bird habitats, with a trail winding through forest and meadow to stunning views of Lake Michigan and a beach of unparalleled beauty, the Green Point Dunes Nature Preserve offers one of the lakeshore’s finest recreational experiences.
In 2019 and 2020, high water levels and intense wave action in Lake Michigan caused the entire beach at the nature preserve to erode, damaging the staircase built in 2006 to provide safe, low-impact access down the dune to the shore. The lower section of the staircase was removed to keep trail users safe and prevent further harm to the infrastructure. Visitors have since been discouraged from accessing the lakeshore, but unfortunately a portion of the dune’s sensitive habitat
has been vulnerable to off-trail use.
Now that the water levels have receded, GTRLC will work to replace the staircase, allowing beachgoers safe access to the shoreline while protecting critical coastal habitat. Considering the lake’s history and propensity for future water level fluctuations, the staircase’s components were carefully selected to provide a safe, high-quality structure that will last for approximately 30 years.
The new staircase will balance weather resistance, longevity, and cost-effectiveness by using treated lumber and concrete piers to keep the wood elevated and dry. It will also feature taller guardrails and handrails that meet the current standards for construction.
Given the preserve’s popularity and steep landscape, certain portions of the trail have also eroded over time. While plans are preliminary, a more sustainable and navigable trail system is being designed, which may reroute sections of the trail and include earthen steps to protect the preserve’s fragile habitats.
With these improvements, we hope to enhance recreational experiences at one of the region’s most spectacular nature preserves while safeguarding the very features that make it special.
Learn more about the Green Point Dunes Nature Preserve.