MADISON, Wis. - Public comments and feedback are needed to help the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources complete its annual listing of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior beaches.
Following significant water level changes in 2014, DNR intensified its annual review of Great Lakes beaches and updated the listing. DNR is now encouraging feedback on the latest list, which can be found by visiting the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, and searching "Great Lakes beaches." The public comment process plays an important role as beach locations, local names and conditions may change over time. The updated maps show current beach locations for each coastal county.
Donalea Dinsmore, DNR Wisconsin beach program manager, said Great Lakes beaches provide a wide range of recreational opportunities for nearby communities while drawing visitors from other states. The beaches also serve as home to an incredible variety of plants, animals and birds.
"Our beaches contribute to our quality of life in many ways," Dinsmore said. "Through the annual listing, we hope to bring more attention to these natural assets and identify changes for the public when conditions evolve as a result of restoration work, public land acquisition or water levels."
Beach health efforts represent a combination of federal, state and local initiatives, including operation of the Beach Health (exit DNR) website, water monitoring and regular efforts to identify and control sources of bacteria that lead to swimming advisories. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires all Wisconsin beaches along the Lake Michigan and Lake Superior shorelines to be identified and prioritized for water quality monitoring.
A "beach" is defined as any place where the public has recreational access to the water for swimming or other water-related activities. Some boat launches and natural areas are included. Inland beaches are not included in the federal program; however, several communities and state parks participate in these efforts voluntarily, posting information on the Beach Health website. These beaches are not included on the published list.
In preparing the annual beach list, DNR considers:
Additions to the 2016 list include:
Beaches removed from the 2016 list include:
Other changes include:
To maintain eligibility for funding under the federal Beach Act, state programs must provide an opportunity for public comment when changes to the list or monitoring program occur. Public comments on the listings and potential program changes should be emailed by the close of business on May 20 to Donalea Dinsmore, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Watch for new signs at monitored beaches
To help beach-goers understand current water quality conditions at beaches, new signs will appear at beaches providing information about water quality monitoring. While existing colored signs or flags appear on the beach indicating the advisory status, the new signs include a QR code that links to the beach health website and multi-lingual messaging to explain the three levels of advice on water quality conditions.
On the signs:
Before heading to the beach, visitors also may want to check the Beach Health (exit DNR) website for updated information.