Cherry Beach closed after staircase washes away

CHIKAMING TOWNSHIP, Mich. --- High waters in Lake Michigan led to the closure of Cherry Beach after the bottom portion of the staircase washed away.

Cherry Beach is the third beach to close in Chikaming Township out of the seven public beach access areas.

“And I come down here all the time and walk the beach, so it is rather sad that we are losing our beach access,” said Janet Schrader, an elected official with the Chikaming Township Park Board.

Schrader works closely with Cherry Beach and said the entire situation is a waiting game as Mother Nature runs its course.

“You speak to mother nature,” said Deborah Hall-Kayler, Chair of Chikaming Township Park Board.

Schrader and Hall-Kayler said the solution to the problem lies in exactly how the water in Lake Michigan flows. With high water levels, rebuilding a staircase for beach access to Cherry Beach would be a waste of resources, according to Schrader and Hall-Kayler.

“It’s my hope that we have one weekend this spring from the state line to the state park where we organize a volunteer clean-up day, said Schrader.

The Park Board is now considering alternatives in place of the wooden-frame staircase for the future.

“The Park Board is looking at alternatives,” said Schrader. “An aluminum set of stairs that gets re-anchored. It’s much more money, but you just re-anchor it and re-position it as the sand shifts. You’re building on a movable sand hill, always. That’s the nature of it.”

While the future of the Cherry Beach staircase is uncertain at this time, both Schrader and Hall-Kayler said it is important for residents to know there are other resources and activities in the community, such as exploring nature preserves or parks.

“We’re not necessarily a beach community, but we really are a beautiful natural resource community,” said Hall-Kayler.

Hall-Kayler advised that anyone that comes across a barrier leading to a beach access point does not try to go around it in order to stay safe.

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