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MAILBAG: Where does beach asphalt debris come from?

Mark Brooky • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:47 AM

r beautiful beach that it is not pleasant to walk in the sand. It is most abundant in the state park area and is completely nonexistent past the City Beach, which means they dump just past the channel. I found a piece today with part of the yellow line still painted on it, so it is definitely from broken road pieces. In addition, the oil used to make asphalt can seep out into the water (a cause for the now common black sand?)."

ANSWER:

The source may be closer than you think.

Joyce Rhodes, supervisor of the Grand Haven State Park, said the asphalt seen on the beach could be a result of the park's crumbling parking lot and roadways.

"Each spring, we move sand that was blown into the parking lot back to the beach," she explained. "This past year, chunks of asphalt were picked up with the sand and deposited on the beach."

In an attempt to remove all of the material, the park held six organized beach clean-up projects over the summer, with the help of more than 100 volunteers to assist park staff.

"We also mechanically cleaned the beach once or twice a week with our park beach cleaner and tractor, since more kept coming to the surface throughout the summer," Rhodes said.

The plan for next year is to have all the sand on the state park's parking lot removed in the spring to avoid the deposit of asphalt on the beach. Efforts will also continue with volunteers cleaning up the beach by hand, as well as the park's beach cleaner.

"All park users are encouraged to assist with the effort by dumping what they find while in the park into one of the parks trash receptacles," Rhodes added.

Rhodes suggested contacting the state Department of Environmental Quality on whether anything can be “dumped” into the lake. However, I'm sure state law prohibits that kind of activity. If you see that happening, alert the authorities.

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