I-Team report: Will our beaches be ready for summer? - WNEM TV 5

I-Team report: Will our beaches be ready for summer?

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At one time, the shoreline along the Saginaw Bay in Bay County attracted thousands of visitors every summer with people coming from as far away as Detroit. 

Now, efforts are underway to make sure that happens again.

“Bay County doesn't have any inland lakes. All we have is this shoreline," Ernie Krygier said.

Krygier has been with the group Save Our Shoreline, also known as SOS, for years. He is a longtime county commissioner who lives right on the Saginaw Bay.

The shoreline has meant a lot to him since he was a kid.

"Well, I grew up in the '60s. Coming out to State Park was a big deal. Back then if you weren't here by 10 o'clock to get your spot on the beach you didn't get one,” Krygier said.

Krygier has spent years working to groom the beach for everyone’s enjoyment, but he said the federal government’s restrictions are blocking him from doing even more. He said Uncle Sam has been citing regulations on the books for more than 30 years.

"The sad thing is the corps got two parcels of land in the center of this shoreline that has deed restrictions on it. We're hoping as time goes on to get those lifted so that we can get an additional 1,000 feet of shoreline where the kids' playscape and the spray park is at,” Krygier said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it has a good reason for not giving Krygier and his team leeway.

"The mission of the regulatory program of the Corps of Engineers is to protect the natural aquatic resources.  And we do that while allowing reasonable development with fair and balanced decisions,” the colonel said.

The colonel said aquatic resources could be navigable waters, adjacent wetlands, rivers and streams.

Krygier and his group have been at odds with the Corps of Engineers over the years.

"We have a mile and a quarter of shoreline here at the Bay City State Park recreational area and right now we're only legally grooming about 1,500 feet of it at the north end. It's not really accessible,” Krygier said. "I'm hoping that as time goes on, and the bureaucrats at the Detroit district corps and the DEQ and the DNR realize that this is the people's park. And it should be kept clean for them so they can come out here and enjoy it.”

The corps recently did grant a permit for a boardwalk to be installed at the Bay City State Park recreation area, but only after rejecting the permit applications and revisions were made. 

The $100,000 boardwalk was paid for with state park passport money. Krygier and the corps said it's a good indication of how the two sides can work together on future beach development.  

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