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Rosewood Beach Sand Nourishment Project

A plan for sand nourishment at Rosewood Beach was approved by the Park District of Highland Park Board of Commissioners to stem the pattern of severe erosion at the nature and swimming coves.  Though the Interpretive Center at the nature cove has a protective revetment, continued beach erosion could put other Rosewood structures at risk in the near future.  

 

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Project Overview

This summer, Lake Michigan water levels came within an inch of the highest figures ever recorded for the months of June and July during the century that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been keeping the data.  Severe beach erosion has affected communities all along the Great Lakes.

Planning for sand nourishment at Rosewood Beach was approved by the Park District of Highland Park Board of Commissioners at their August 27, 2019 meeting.  Sand nourishment will stem the pattern of severe erosion at the beach caused by record high lake levels combined with an increase in severe storms causing damaging wave action over the past year.

The Park District’s request to add sand at Rosewood will require emergency approval from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  If approved, the work could start in October 2019.

The sand nourishment project will replenish the beaches at Rosewood’s nature and swimming coves. The nature cove shoreline has receded approximately 45 feet and the swimming cove shoreline has receded approximately 55 feet according to Margaret Boshek, a coastal engineer with SmithGroup. Though the Interpretive Center at the nature cove has a protective revetment, current patterns of beach erosion could put other Rosewood structures at risk in the near future.

The plan calls for both coves to be built out by 40 feet.  Sand will be strategically placed and include a combination of:

  • Torpedo Sand –  fine grain sand already at Rosewood
  • Birdseye Sand – heavy grain sand comprised of small smooth pebbles that stay in place during extreme wave action

Rosewood’s recreation cove located at the south end of the beach will not be replenished as part of this project because there are no structures at risk along the cove. 

For more information on the project, contact Jeff Smith, Director of Planning and Projects, at jsmith@pdhp.org.

To receive updates on the Rosewood Sand Replenishment Project, sign up for our e-newsletter.

Project Team:

SmithGroup


Project Updates

9/11/19 – The Park District is seeking emergency approval from United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to proceed with a sand nourishment project at the Rosewood Beach nature and swimming coves this Fall. The goal of the project is to stem the pattern of severe erosion at the beach caused by record-high lake levels combined with an increase in severe storms causing damaging wave action over the past year. Emergency approval would allow the Park District to proceed with the project while longer-term sand nourishment permitting continues. Permits required are from the USACE, IDNR, and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA).  

This week, SmithGroup, the engineering firm working with the Park District, is finalizing their calculations for the beach slopes and volume of sand required to complete the project. This information, along with a request to for the project’s emergency approval, will be sent to both the USACE and IDNR. The Park District anticipates these approvals will take approximately two weeks. Also, next week, SmithGroup will begin working with contractors to provide pricing on the project. Final pricing will be presented to the Park Board for their review and approval in the next several weeks.

What is Happening at the Beaches?

Just in the past few years, water level in Lake Michigan has risen from historic lows to higher than average levels.   This summer, Lake Michigan water levels came within an inch of the highest figures ever recorded for June and July during the century that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has been keeping the data.  By August, Lake Michigan water level was more than 2 ½ feet above the long-term average for the month, according to the USACE. Communities all along the Illinois Lake Michigan shoreline, including Highland Park, are experiencing narrower beaches, “disappearing” piers and beach erosion.

What is happening to lake levels?
The rise and fall of lake level is a normal process for the Great Lakes. Lake level varies daily, monthly, seasonally, and annually. Just five years ago, in the spring of 2013, Lake Michigan was experiencing close to record lows.

Why are lake levels rising now?
There are many reasons for Great Lakes water levels to rise.  In Lake Michigan, a primary reason is the balance between evaporation and precipitation.  Back-to-back cold winters in 2013 and 2014 contributed to the sudden increase in 2014.  Ice cover blocked typical patterns of winter evaporation and then contributed to subsequent runoff from melting of snow and ice. Stronger storms and unusually wet years since then are pushing Great Lakes water levels up. 

What are the forecasts?
The new expectation for the future is that lake levels will be more volatile, rising and falling more quickly, though the jury is still out as to whether that means the setting of new records — high or low — will be a common occurrence.

What is the Park District Doing?
As the Park District works to provide safe and fun beach-going experiences through routine maintenance of our beaches, we also recognize that we are part of a dynamic and complicated lake ecosystem that requires us to have proactive and flexible plans in place to continue to protect our shoreline.   The Rosewood Sand Nourishment Project will stem the pattern of severe erosion at the nature and swimming coves.  Though the Interpretive Center at the nature cove has a protective revetment, continued beach erosion could put other Rosewood structures at risk in the near future.  In addition, the Park District participates with other lake shore communities in the Sand Management Working Group, which partners scientists, local, state and federal agencies and the IDNR Coastal Management Program to better understand and find long term best practices for coastal issues.

What Else is Going On? 
Arising from the Sand Management Working Group and in conjunction with the Illinois State Geological Survey, a citizen-science program called COASTS (Citizens Observing and Surveying the Shoreline) has been developed which trains volunteers to collect beach erosion and accretion data at sites throughout Illinois.  To learn more about COASTs:  https://publish.illinois.edu/lakemichigancoasts/

About the Rosewood Sand Nourishment Project  

How far have the Rosewood coves eroded?
The nature cove shoreline has receded approximately 45 feet and the swimming cove shoreline has receded approximately 55 feet according to Margaret Boshek, a coastal engineer with SmithGroup. Though the Interpretive Center at the nature cove has a protective revetment, current patterns of beach erosion could put other Rosewood structures at risk in the near future.

What will the replenishment project entail? 
The plan calls for both coves to be built out by 40 feet.  Sand will be strategically placed and include a combination of:

  • Torpedo Sand –  fine grain sand already at Rosewood
  • Birdseye Sand – heavy grain sand comprised of small smooth pebbles that stay in place during extreme wave action

Why isn’t the recreation cove at the south end of the beach being nourished as part of this fall’s project? 
Rosewood’s recreation cove located at the south end of the beach will not be replenished as part of this project because there are no structures at risk along the cove.  

What agencies have to approve the project? 
Emergency approval comes from United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).  Emergency approval would allow the Park District to proceed with the project while longer-term sand nourishment permitting continues.

Has the Park District applied for a longer-term permit?
Permits for sand nourishment required are from the USACE, IDNR, and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA).  The Park District has applied for those permits which will allow for sand nourishment at Rosewood Beach for the next 10 years.  

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