Ottawa County prepares for bigger beaches this summer

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — If you’ve been out to any West Michigan beaches yet this year, you may have noticed that there’s a little bit more of them to enjoy, and experts say it should stay that way.

Lake Michigan broke water level records every month through August of last year. The Army Corps of Engineer’s latest monthly report shows the Great Lakes did not rise at all during March, when they typically go up by about 2 inches.

Lake Michigan’s average water level in March was nearly a foot below its record high during the same month last year. Experts say Lake Michigan will remain 2 feet above average through July, but below last year’s records.

Since we’re starting to see more beach, Ottawa County officials want to make sure people know what to expect. They say there’s still some work to be done before the beaches are in top shape.

Some access points are still closed, including stairs and trails, and officials say they’re waiting for the water levels to go down even more to address those. However, people can get involved right now in helping clean up the beaches before the summer, including picking up trash, plastic, and wood.

Officials say just like every year, they want to encourage safety.

“Just keep an eye out, too, with all of the water changes,” said Jessica Vanginhoven, the communications specialist for Ottawa County Parks and Recreation. “Sometimes those levels changing, sometimes stuff shows up that we haven’t seen in 20 years. We had a staircase at Kirk Park that we haven’t seen in a couple decades show up, and so that means just to be really careful as you’re walking along the beach and being mindful of where you’re stepping.”

Ottawa County is also not limiting parking as of now like they did last summer due to the bigger beaches and more people getting vaccinated.

More information and to get involved in beach clean-up this year can be found online.

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