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Book Cover
Our Fourth Shore
Great Lakes Shoreline






The Lakes and Their Areas

A Region for Recreation

Sands and Scenery

The Land and Its Life

Discovery and Development


Great Lakes Shoreline Recreation Area Survey
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Eight states border on the Great Lakes. In the following paragraphs is a short breakdown of individual state shorelines and areas suitable for public recreation use.


New York has 563 miles of mainland frontage on Lakes Erie and Ontario and on the St. Lawrence and Niagara Rivers. Island frontage amounts to 212 miles. Eight areas with 28.4 miles of shoreline were selected for various recreation values. One area, including an island, was selected in the Thousand Islands region of the St. Lawrence. Seven sites were selected on Lake Ontario. Three are recommended extensions of existing state parks. No areas were selected on either the Niagara River or on Lake Erie.


Pennsylvania's 51 miles of shoreline on Lake Erie are composed primarily of bluffs, broken only where small streams enter the lake. The sandy peninsula, occupied by 7.8 miles of shoreline in the Pennsylvania State Park at Erie, breaks the continuity of this shore. Only one study area was selected in Pennsylvania: an area around the mouth of the Elk Creek with 1.5 miles of frontage.


Ohio has 248 mainland miles fronting on Lake Erie plus 66 miles of island shoreline. Six areas with 11.0 frontage miles were selected in this state. One, the Ohio Marshlands, is of outstanding value to waterfowl and its significance may be national in scope.


Michigan, with frontage on Lakes Erie, St. Clair, Huron, Michigan and Superior plus the St. Marys, St. Clair and Detroit Rivers, has a total of 3,222 shoreline miles. Of this total, 948 miles are in island frontage. Forty study areas with 257.3 shoreline miles have been selected, of which three — the Sleeping Bear Dunes, the Pictured Rocks and the Huron Mountains — are of such an outstanding nature that they justify serious consideration for national acquisition. A breakdown of the study areas shows a proposed 90.8 miles of shoreline for state parks, 69.0 miles for state forests, 82.7 miles for national areas and 14.8 miles for local and county uses.


Indiana has but 46 miles of frontage on Lake Michigan. This shore is highly industrialized, but the 5.5 miles of fine sand beaches backed by high dunes possess exceptional values to meet the recreation needs of the highly populated region.


Illinois, like Indiana, has limited frontage on southern Lake Michigan. One state park occurs along the 63 miles of shoreline, but needs more area if it is to adequately handle the throngs of weekend users from the adjacent metropolitan areas. Northward from the park are 3.5 miles of shore frontage which are recommended for state acquisition.


Wisconsin, with frontage on Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, has 820 miles of island and mainland shoreline. Three study areas were selected on Lake Michigan; one as an extension of an existing state park, another as a state park possibility and a third as an, extension of a state forest. These total 15.0 shoreline miles. On Lake Superior, four areas were designated with a total of 71.5 miles of shore frontage. These include a state park area, an extension of a state forest, areas of local value and a marsh with possible national significance as a waterfowl area.


Minnesota's shoreline on Lake Superior is a rock-bound coast with 189 miles of mainland and island frontage. U. S. Highway 61 — the North Shore Drive — follows closely along the lakeshore, and is recommended for a parkway-type development. Two study areas with 32.8 miles of frontage are recommended for public acquisition.

map of Great Lakes: Remaining Opportunities
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Last Modified: Mon, Dec 22 2003 10:00:00 pm PDT

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