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Groups working to save Kenosha Sand Dunes from complete erosion

Posted at 10:27 PM, Feb 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-23 23:27:18-05

KENOSHA-- The Kenosha Sand Dunes are in danger of completely eroding within the next several years, according to an environmental engineering expert at UW Madison.

Since Dr. Chin Wu started monitoring the Kenosha Sand Dunes in 2014, he estimates that 100 feet has been lost to Lake Michigan. Wu believes that if nothing is done to stop the erosion, the dunes could be gone in five years.

Fortunately, Dr. Wu is working with the Department of Natural Resources and other local agencies to establish a unique solution; underwater sills to break the waves.

"We are trying to balance it, minimize the wave impact, provide habitats. The erosion will still take place, but take place in a gradual format," Wu said. "We are not trying to block 100 percent, which will cost a lot, which will look ugly, which we tried as a solution 30 or 40 years ago."

Dr. Wu believes that the solution will still cost millions of dollars.

On Sunday afternoon, dozens of people hiking the dunes couldn't help but marvel at the erosion. Years of rising lake levels and a strong January storm ravaged the lake shore.

"When my nine year old grandson was three or four, there used to be a pretty big beach here that we would play on and, eventually it was totally gone," said local resident Pat Mangi.

"It's changed drastically," said Tami Reed.

"It's a shame now, it's so bad," said Bruce Herman. "It's horrible."

A path that once lead to the dunes along the shore now drops off into the eroded area. Residents said that January's storm ripped out at least several feet.

"I mean, I love this area, it's so beautiful," Mangi said. "There are so many birds and wild animals that this is their habitat, and this is just slowly disappearing," she said.

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