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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 address 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.

Rosewood Beach is one of the Park District’s most heavily used facilities, and one of the most beautiful of our community’s assets.  It is a priority for the Park Board of Commissioners to move quickly to protect that asset and continue providing safe beach access to the thousands of children, adults and families that use this facility for recreation and leisure. To prevent further erosion, protect lakefront structures and ensure this community asset will serve the community for current and future generations, emergency placement of sand is necessary this fall.

The Park District’s request to add sand at Rosewood will require approval from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  The work is expected to start October 21, 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 provide greater stability during wave action

 

The Rosewood Nature Cove will be nourished entirely with Birdseye Sand, and the Swimming Cove will be nourished with a combination of Birdseye Sand and Torpedo Sand.  The 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
John Keno & Company
Thelen Materials


Project Updates

11/18/19 – Crews completed the deliver and placement of sand at both the Nature and Swimming Coves.  This week, the project team will begin removing the construction equipment the beach.    The lake will continue flattening the newly placed material and creating a more stable slope.  See illustration below (click to enlarge).

11/7/19 – This week, crews continue to deliver and spread sand at both the Nature and Swimming Coves.  The project is expected to be completed in the next week.  As anticipated, the lake is flattening the newly placed material and creating a more stable slope.  See illustration below (click to enlarge).

As the project is nearing completion, the Park District is working with Smith Group to analyze future lake level projections and long-term options to protect the beach.  According to the United States Army Corp Research and Development Center (USRDC) Lake Michigan hit its highest level in July at 581.92 feet.  The USRDC predicts the lake level will be at 580.94 feet in January – 10.3 inches higher than the level in January 2019.  Over the course of the coming year, the lake could rise another 11 to 12 inches. 

The high lake levels coupled with powerful early fall storms have caused major damage to beaches all along the north shore.  The USRDC recorded 11.5-foot waves during the severe storm on October 31, 2019.    The Park District’s quick action to implement the emergency sand nourishment project earlier this fall protected the Rosewood structures and parking lot from the devastating damage this storm, and others like it, could have caused. 

 

10/25/19 – The Rosewood Beach Sand Nourishment project began on schedule, Monday, October 21.  During the week, significant progress was made placing the Birdseye sand in the Nature Cove.  Sand is being strategically placed along both the Nature Cove and the Swimming Cove with a steep grade at the water’s edge.  Once placed, the sand will begin to shift providing a more gradual grade.  See illustration below, (click to enlarge).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sand for this project has been sourced from a local Illinois quarry where thousands of years ago it was part of the same ancient watershed as Lake Michigan.   This sand meets Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) regulations that protect water quality from contaminants such as PCBs and asbestos.   

The Illinois Department of Nature Resources (IDNR) and IEPA regulate sand used for all projects along the Illinois shoreline.   Sand must meet IEPA water quality standards and be geologically the same as the sand that comes from the bottom of the lake.  Luckily, most of Illinois was blanketed by thick layers of sand from glaciers that retreated 14,000 years ago.  As a result, sand can be sourced from local quarries that meet the IEPA water quality and geological standards.

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 be proactive and flexible to continue to protect our shoreline.   The Rosewood Beach Nourishment Project is an example of that proactive flexibility. 

The Park District also 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.

 

10/14/19 – The Rosewood Beach sand nourishment project is scheduled to begin on Monday, October 21. This emergency project will address the current pattern of severe beach erosion caused by record-high lake levels and is necessary to protect beach structures at the nature and swimming coves.  It is a priority for the Park District to move quickly to protect Rosewood Beach and continue providing safe beach access for our community.  

 The trucks transporting sand to the beach are expected to exit Highway 41 at Lake Cook Road and head east, then south on Saint Johns Avenue, turn right onto Lincolnwood Road, and follow Sheridan Road until reaching the Rosewood Beach entrance. Trucks will return using the same route. 

 During construction, Rosewood Beach, including the lower parking lot, will be closed to pedestrians and vehicular traffic. The project is expected to take approximately 6 weeks to complete.  In compliance with the City of Highland ordinances, the work will take place between the hours of 7 am and 7 pm on weekdays and 9 am and 5 pm on weekends.  

10/2/19 -The Park District of Highland Park Board of Commissioners approved a resolution waiving competitive bidding for an emergency sand nourishment project at Rosewood Beach. The resolution included awarding project contracts to Thelen Sand & Gravel for materials and John Keno & Company for labor services.  Both companies provided the lowest responsible quote for services that are in the best interest of the Park District.

Under the Illinois Park District Code, 70 ILSC 1205/1, Section 8-1, competitive bidding for the procurement of goods and services exceeding $25,000 can be waived when the Board of Park Commissioners finds that emergency circumstances exist. 

The estimated cost for the project is $310,000 including engineering, material, and construction costs.  Construction is expected to begin October 21, 2019.   Project details and a timeline will be presented to the Park Board of Commissioners at the October 15 Board Workshop Meeting.

 

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 current 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).  A year ago, the Park District anticipated long term trends and started the process to obtain permits which will allow for sand nourishment at Rosewood Beach for the next 10 years.  

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