Little Presque Isle stations will improve safety

A collaborative effort involving several local groups as well as state and federal organizations is underway to improve the safety of our region’s waterfront.

Among other organizations, Dan Perkins and the local Lions Clubs, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Marquette Waterfront Safety Task Force, Northern Michigan University, UP Health System and the U.S. Coast Guard have joined forces to build three life-saving stations around Little Presque Isle.

The three roofed structures, similar to those life-saving stations that were installed along the beaches in the city of Marquette, will hold life rings and life jackets that can be used to rescue people who may have been swept away by the current.

Little Presque Isle is a popular state recreation area off Marquette County Road 550. It is frequently used by local residents and others for swimming in the summer and other recreational activities on the water and shoreline.

The effort to build the stations was in response to an incident June 11, when two people drowned as a result of strong currents and large waves in Lake Superior near Little Presque Isle and Wetmore Landing, another nearby beach.

While these areas can be quite popular, they are somewhat remote. That can mean longer response times for emergency personnel to arrive. And at this time of year, considering the cold waters of Lake Superior, a few minutes can be the difference between life and death.

In a recent Journal article, Eric Smith, vice chairman of the Marquette Waterfront Safety Task Force, said no drowning fatalities have occurred in the city since the stations were installed along Lakeshore Boulevard in 2011. We hope that will also be the case five years from now and for many years to come at Little Presque Isle and throughout all the beaches in our region.

We must also agree with Smith when he said the steps our community has taken shouldn’t replace the importance of personal responsibility and making good choices.

With sandy beaches and picturesque views, Lake Superior most certainly offers many benefits to our community. But it can also be extremely dangerous.

Because of the shoreline’s geography, particularly that of Little Presque Isle, dangerous channel currents can form, such as the one that occurred June 11. The powerful waves on Lake Superior have eroded our rocky shorelines and sunk steel ships and sailing vessels that were far more capable of staying afloat than a person.

Though it was an unfortunate tragedy that acted as a catalyst, we’re encouraged by the number of people and groups coming together as one community to throw their support behind this effort to improve the safety of our waterfront.

We should all pay attention to conditions when venturing out into the lake and know our own abilities and limits so that we can make every attempt to avoid losing any more lives.

-Marquette Mining Journal