Michigan Sea Grant Project # R/SS-2
Project Info Project Team Publications Progress Reports
Project # Index:
Project Title:
Where People Meet the Muck: An Integrated Assessment of Beach Muck and Public Perception at the Bay City State Recreation Area, Saginaw Bay, Lake Huron
PI Name:
Donna Kashian
RFP Year:
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End Year:
NOAA Award Number:
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Strategic Classification(s):
096 - Nonpoint Source Pollution
111 - Socioeconomic Dimensions of Environmental Change
Non-Technical Summary:
The proposed project will summarize the current state of knowledge on the causes and consequences of muck conditions in Saginaw Bay, including the socio-economic aspects, and develop with stakeholder input a series of feasible management actions that can be implemented at the Bay City State Recreation Area to address both near- and long-term strategies. The primary objectives can be grouped into the following four themes: 1. Environmental and Human Health Impacts - Synthesize the available data and research related to the origins of muck and its potential to harbor FIB, and evaluate how it behaves in the system and at the BCSRA. 2. Economic Impacts Conduct economic analyses related to beach visitation and a BCSRA impact survey to understand how recreational values and park management are impacted by muck conditions. 3. Public Perception Develop a better understanding of stakeholder perception of the causes of muck (and associated FIB), agency credibility, and impacts of muck on their well-being in order to inform agency management strategies. 4. Management Solutions Assess previous management actions and identify any new management scenarios to address muck-related issues at the park, and begin to inform what remedial actions are feasible to address the Aesthetics BUI within the AOC Program framework.
Through a robust stakeholder engagement process, the IA Team will implement a suite of models and surveys to understand public perception of muck-related issues, and identify a series of feasible short-term and long-term management actions that could help to alleviate and better manage the impact of muck. The team will apply a beach recreation demand model to evaluate likely economic effects of possible beach improvements, conduct stakeholder interviews and surveys to explore participant mental models of the issue, identify points of agreement and disagreement and improve communication and participation, and modify an existing ecosystem model to evaluate management actions. The results of the IA will provide stakeholders with a shared understanding of the current state of knowledge related to muck and the options for effectively managing the impacts of muck.
In Saginaw Bay, various types of algae proliferate and excess organic matter washes up on the beach, forming muck that is blamed for negatively affecting water quality and for economic losses in the region. The causes of the muck remain uncertain despite on-going research, and the public has strong, but widely disparate views on what should be done. State environmental agencies believe that restoration criteria, developed through a stakeholder engagement process, are necessary to address muck through the existing policy frameworks. A number of technical and policy considerations need to be evaluated to clarify the issue and identify feasible remedial actions that can be implemented given uncertainties related to the sources contributing to the problem.