Illinois’ shoreline is dynamic. Storms, ice, and fluctuation lake levels combine to create an ever-changing Lake Michigan coastal system. Existing hardened shore protection structures like revetments and jetties add to the system’s complexity. With high lake levels since 2014, shoreline change in our region has been rapid and costly. Some areas of Illinois lose dozens of feet of sandy beaches and coastal habitat, including critical wetlands, every year. This erosion threatens key infrastructure, endangers parks, beaches, and public access points, and washes away stretches of important habitats. Other areas of our coast accumulate sand, which can clog ports and harbors and impact navigation.
Coastal Management Program is engaged in research and planning initiatives to assist coastal communities with sand management challenges.
Illinois Sand Management Working Group
Our coastal communities recognize that protecting Illinois’ shoreline requires collaboration and innovation. We work hand-in-hand with communities by facilitating the Illinois Sand Management Working Group. Since 2015, this network of partners has improved regional collaboration on public shoreline management.
Interested in the US Army Corps of Engineers Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) pilot project awarded to Illinois?
This effort grew out of the exciting work of the Illinois Sand Management Working Group.
Learn more about it from the materials below:
Sand Management Background Information
Sand Management Permitting Guidance
Are you thinking about a shoreline protection project involving sand placement or construction activity along the Lake Michigan shoreline? Depending on your project, applying for a permit involves three different government agencies: US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Illinois Department of Natural Resources Office of Water Resources (IDNR OWR) and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) Bureau of Water. But we've got you covered! The Illinois Sand Management Working Group's permitting team put together this video to give you all the information you need to get started with applying for a permit. This video was developed in consultation with IEPA, USACE Chicago District Regulatory Branch, IDNR-OWR and other agencies.
Coastal Management Program established a partnership with the Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) of the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to improve our understanding of coastal change through solution-focused monitoring and research. The ISGS Great Lakes Coastal Geology Research Group conducts process-oriented coastal geology studies using drones, research vessels, and remote sensing devices to explore the dynamic drivers of coastal change. Through this partnership, we are turning cutting-edge science into the foundation for decision-making.
Helicopter Time Domain Electromagnetic (HTEM) Project Update
In April 2017, Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) scientists undertook an innovative project that used electromagnetic fields to better understand where sand is along our coast. The project was the first of its kind in the Great Lakes and used a helicopter to map these sand deposits from Kenosha, Wisconsin to Chicago, Illinois. ISGS completed processing the project data and is now analyzing the results. Ultimately, ISGS will create products that translate the outcomes for decision-making. ISGS expects some of the products to be available to the public by mid-2019, including data on sand volumes along the coast and at sites of interest. In late 2019, ISGS will complete a 3-dimensional map of sand thickness for the entire coastline.
Community Science Shoreline Monitoring Project – COASTS
Want to get involved in scientific research and learn more about the changes happening on the coast? Well, you are in luck! The ISGS Great Lakes Coastal Geology Research Group and the Coastal Management Program launched a community science shoreline monitoring program called COASTS, and we need your help. Help us collect beach elevation change data to better understand seasonal and annual trends in beach erosion (loss of sand) and accretion (sand gain). This type of information supports the development of models and tools to aid beach managers in making science-based management decisions.