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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Opinion — Its okay to outgrow your college friends
Opinion — It's okay to outgrow your college friends
Megan PoeApril 12, 2024

Erosion worsens around Presque Isle Park


In Marquette, leisure activities such as hammocking have become a facet in the commuity. However, the trees in Presque Isle Park are beginning to erode from the public’s overuse, creating erosion near Lake Superior.

Assistant Director of Community Services for Marquette Andrew MacIver voiced his concerns for the parks slow deterioration.

Hammocking is a main issue in the erosion at the park since the craze has taken off in the last 10 years, MacIver said, because hammocking kills what keeps the ground supported.

“If we do not have vegetation stabilizing the ground, then we will lose sections of the park,”
An ordinance negates the use of rope, nailing things, and even wide straps that are considered “leave no trace” wraps.

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“With this being a public place, everyone thinks there’s certain areas that are prime hammocking spots. Even if you’re using “leave no trace” straps, everyone is using the same spots continually and the weight of someone in a hammock is still putting some pressure on the tree, which will essentially start killing off and starving the tree,”
he said.

MacIver explained that he walks around Presque Isle Park taking photos and measurements from the paved roadway to that area to see to evaluate the extent erosion has occured. He compares sites to previous pictures and evaluate certain key points of the park experiencing continuing erosion.

Some people set up hammocks around the park not knowing what kind of damage they’re doing,
he said.

“People put hammocks across pathways. They were conducting lewd behaviors in hammocks, so there were all kinds of things going on to where we had to step in and we realized the real damage we were causing,” MacIver said. “That’s when we knew we had to take a stance.”

“Eventually, we’re not going to have any trees that will be able to support and hold the landscape. A section of the park could even fall into the lake. We’re trying to do our part in making sure we’re being stewards for the park so it’s here for future generations,” he said.

It’s hard to say when the erosion will get severe to the point of irreversible damage, MacIver said, but for most of the trees, the damage has already been done.

“We’re going to have to step up the erosion mitigation around the park,” he noted. “It’s a very real discussion that the city needs to have with the residents and the Presque Isle Park Advisory Committee, to start evaluating what areas of the park we need to start investing in some wrap

Presque Isle Park is the crown jewel of the city, and it needs to be preserved for the future, MacIver said.
Apart from hammocking, fire hazards are also a concern for the park, he added. Not properly disposing cigarette butts heightens fire danger and other types of trash further adds to the fuel.

Junior information assurance and cyber defense Nick Potyok, who is also the co-founder of NMU conservation crew, said that the issue with Presque Isle Park is a slow, gradual process.

“There’s parts of the ground where the cliff curves, and there’s only a tiny slate of rock holding up a single tree and maybe 10 feet of soil,” Potyok said. “At what point does that
just fall?”

It is possible that almost 25 percent of Presque Isle has fallen into the lake, Potyok said.

Because trees are such a massive organism they take longer to die, Potyok said, but they will die if students and community members continue to treat the park poorly.

This is not to say that hammocking directly causes erosion, Potyok added, but it is an important secondary factor to the problem.

“It’s not that all of Presque Isle is going to go away. It’s that we’re minimizing and losing parts of it,” he said.

Students who come to NMU with prior knowledge of outdoorculture don’t know how to be conscious about how they are enjoying nature, Potyok said, also noting that these problems are not addressed during freshman orientation.
“It’s important to recognize that you have an impact on the environment,” he said. “Erosion happens everywhere. It’s a continuous problem. It’s being exasperated because of ham mocking.”

Investing in rocks in the lake which would break up the waves is a prospective solution for some of the erosion, he said, but it is easier to control people rather than the weather.

“It affects our community. It affects our future generations,” he said.

Places like Hiawatha National Forset, for example, are able succeptable to more tree loss than a place like Presque Isle, Potyok said. There’s a limited amount of trees, he said, and Presque Isle needs every one of them.

“[Students’] presence in the environment has an impact,” Potyok said. “Whether it’s positive or negative is up to them.”

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