Large Lake Michigan sand dune threatening lakeshore cottage

In a July 13 photo, sand is removed from the location where one cottage was swallowed by an approximately 80-foot tall dune in April at the edge of the Silver Lake Lake State Park in Mears, Mich. Eleven cottages are in the immediate path of the dune. (AP photo)

MEARS, Mich. (AP) — Sand dunes that make a western Michigan tourist destination so popular are threatening to take over multiple cottages.

An 80-foot-tall dune in the Silver Lake area has moved close to Sue Dressler’s cottage along Lake Michigan, the Muskegon Chronicle reported.

The dune, which is part of nearly 2,000 acres of sand dunes in the area, still contains pieces of another cottage of Dressler’s it consumed in April.

Dressler is leading a group effort to stop the dune before it swallows up any more cottages along Lake Michigan. Financial- and service-based resources are being pooled to remove the leading edge of the dune.

Wind direction, the amount of sand available and the absence of vegetation all contribute to the movement of a sand dune, said Alan Arbogast, a professor and chairman of Michigan State University’s Geography Department.

“It’s easy to understand the uneasiness they feel about it,” Arbogast said of the owners whose homes are in the sand dune’s path.

Dressler and her husband said they were able to push back smaller and less active sand dunes near their cottages for about 20 years.

However, the last two years have been different, with wind direction being a contributor.

Officials with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources are willing to learn more about any proposal the cottage owners may have to slow the dune’s movement, said Tim Schreiner, supervisor of the park division’s Cadillac District that includes Silver Lake State Park.