Parts of State Park in Manistee at Risk of Falling off Cliff After Summer of Extreme Erosion

A state park is at risk of falling off the edge of the Earth. Or at least toppling off the edge of a cliff, and into Lake Michigan.

After recent high water levels and summer rain events, scientists are very worried about parts of Orchard Beach State Park in Manistee washing away. 

Record water levels and summer rain events have swallowed up 50 feet of its namesake beach shoreline, and the lapping water is eroding the soil nearby rapidly. 

Now, a 1940s picnic pavilion atop a 100 foot cliff overlooking the water is at risk. Summer rain caused nearly eight feet of soil to erode on some parts of the cliff face. The already high lake levels are eating the cliff away even more.

Park supervisor Doug Barry got his first red flag when he had to replace a nearby fence that was getting too close to the edge.

“It drops right off so part of our fence would’ve fallen into Lake Michigan,” said Barry. “It is of great concern with the amount of erosion we’ve received this year.”

Barry says the structure could weigh up to 500 tons, and moving it is no simple task. His team has contracted with an engineering firm to assess strategies to move it away from the eroding cliff face.

A full assessment of the building and erosion is being done right now.