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With Lake Michigan receding there will be more camping and beach parking in Muskegon this summer

Lake Michigan's water level falling from last year's record, but still expected to remain 2 feet above average.

MUSKEGON, Mich. — Great Lake water levels in 2021 are tracking below last year's levels, though Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, St. Clair and Erie remain well above long-term average levels, according to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Since November 2020, the Great Lakes basin experienced four consecutive months of below average precipitation. 

Late winter and early spring are typical Great Lakes seasonal rise periods because of increased rainfall and runoff. Water levels typically peak in the summer or early fall. Even with lower lake levels, some lakes are still well above average and coastal flooding and shoreline erosion are possible, especially during periods of active weather and increased wave action.

The most recent six-month forecast of Great Lakes water levels predicts levels to remain below record high levels, but above average on all lakes, except Lake Ontario.

Currently Lake Michigan is about eight inches lower than it was in March of 2020. Going into the summer of 2021 the city of Muskegon is expected to reopen additional parking along Beach Street south of the city's water filtration facility. Those sections were closed in 2020 due to concerns Lake Michigan would wash out sections of the road.

"It's a big change from where we sat last year," said Muskegon Public Works Director Leo Evans. "We looked at it yesterday and we're hopeful we'll be able to open up some more parking there this year. We were able to open a small section of it later last year, but I think this year we'll be able to go a little bigger." 

The city is also reopening the Hartshorn Marina after it remained closed all of 2020 due to the docks and parking lot being under water.

"We're moving ahead with plans," said Evans.

On the north side of Muskegon Lake at the Muskegon State Park, efforts are being made to reopen the Channel campground which also remained closed in 2020 due to high water and flooding along the Muskegon channel.

"The biggest thing was the standing water and that was over our roadways and a lot of our campsites were completely underwater including parts of the power pedestals," said Muskegon State Park Supervisor Greg Sherburn. "This is a good step."

The Channel campground will open to campers in mid-April. Some sites prone to flooding may close periodically as the summer progresses.

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