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Points North, Ep. 19: High water

This week on Points North, the water is so high in Michigan this summer that shorelines are disappearing, docks are underwater and rivers are overflowing. Plus hear how high water is affecting public access to beaches and research on avian botulism. 



High water complicates avian botulism monitoring, but means fewer bird deaths

Credit Kaye LaFond / Interlochen Public Radio
Interlochen Public Radio
Mary Ellen Newport and a fellow volunteer usually walk the beach by Platte River to do their annual avian botulism monitoring in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, but this year they had to take a canoe across the river.

Avian botulism has affected waterfowl like loons and mergansers in the Great Lakes for decades. The last major outbreak was in 2016, when hundreds of dead birds washed up on the shores of Lake Michigan. Every year, volunteers head out to the lakes to monitor botulism. This year high water levels complicate monitoring, but also mean fewer bird deaths from the disease.

How high water levels on the lakes are good news for the birds, at least temporarily.


Public beach access affected by high water levels

Credit Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio
Interlochen Public Radio
This month Lake Michigan is nearing record-high water levels not seen since June 1986. As the water continues to rise, the beaches shrink.

The water in Michigan’s lakes, ponds and rivers belongs to everyone, but the shoreline different. In Michigan, when private property abuts the Great Lakes, there’s a natural high water mark that determines how far up on the beach the public can walk. 

Learn how high water levels are affecting public access.


Platte Point Beach is basically underwater

Credit Kaye LaFond / Interlochen Public Radio
Interlochen Public Radio
Most of the beach at Platte River Point is underwater, and there is standing water where there's normally sand.

Platte Point beach is a favorite for tubers and kayakers in northern Michigan, but this year it is almost completely underwater.


The beach at Platte Point is so flooded it's hardly recognizable.

We want to hear from you

Points North is taking next week off, and will be back July 12. In the meantime, what stories would you like to hear on the show? Call our comment line 231-276-4444 or email your suggestion to

Morgan Springer is a contributing editor and producer at Interlochen Public Radio. She previously worked for the New England News Collaborative as the host/producer of NEXT, the weekly show which aired on six public radio station in the region.