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Photographers Aim to Preserve Parts of Lake Michigan

A photo exhibit aims to spotlight a controversial potential real-estate development on natural lands along Lake Michigan. Credit: James Cook/Mary Lou Graham/Erin Wilkinson
A photo exhibit aims to spotlight a controversial potential real-estate development on natural lands along Lake Michigan. Credit: James Cook/Mary Lou Graham/Erin Wilkinson
October 21, 2015

CHICAGO - An art exhibit opening today in Chicago is focused on capturing the beauty of an ecologically sensitive area on Lake Michigan.

Brad Klein, senior attorney with the Environmental Law and Policy Center, said the center is showcasing the photos of three artists to help bring attention to a section of land near the Saugatuck Dunes in Michigan. A real-estate developer is considering some of that land for residential properties.

"If you allow this kind of development in such a critical area," he said, "you really threaten to kind of kill the goose that laid the golden egg."

Klein said the local economy in Saugatuck relies in part on the natural beauty of the dunes to draw in tourists, and that the real-estate development could put that at risk. The photos, featuring natural scenes of the dunes, will be on display at the Environmental Law and Policy Center in downtown Chicago.

Klein said the Great Lakes are a treasure for the area and all Midwesterners should feel a common pull to protect the areas around them.

"One of the things that's exciting about this exhibit - to be able to come in and see these photos that you understand are just a stone's throw from Chicago and right on the lake that we see every day - really kind of brings it home," he said.

One of the exhibit's photographers, Erin Wilkinson, admitted there is an economic argument to be made in favor of developing real estate near the dunes. But she also said undeveloped spaces, such as the dunes, provide people with more than economic benefits.

"It also pulls a lot of tourism from the Chicago area," she said, "because this side of the lake somehow is a slower pace and a more tranquil feel, and I think that is due to the lack of development; that we have this precious jewel of the lake and the dunes."

Speakers from the Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance will kick off the Scenes from Saugatuck exhibit tonight. To see the gallery you can RSVP with the Environmental Law and Policy Center.

More details about the exhibit are online at elpc.org.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - IL