Rock collectors flocking to Covert state park

Associated Press

Covert — Rock collectors have been flocking to a state park in Covert that has seen broad expanses of stone because of high water levels this summer.

Van Buren State Park is typically known for its massive dunes and sandy beaches, but now visitors are coming out in force searching for everything from beach glass to fossils.

Albion College geology student Jennifer Nelson is working at the park this summer and teaching visitors about mammals, plants, invasive species and rocks. She said that whether beaches are sandy or rocky is determined by how much sand the lake’s tide consumes.

“We let the lake take the sand or put it back, whatever it’s going to do that year,” she said.

She said that many of the park’s rocks are covered by sand on stormy days, but that they emerge again when the waters calm down.

Nelson said fossils, granite and shiny, colorful stones have been particularly popular among young collectors.

“The kids are loving it,” Nelson said. “They love picking up every rock on the beach and bringing them to me to identify.”

Adult collectors often look for Petoskey stones, which are somewhat rare but possible to find.

Nelson said that the same rocks are found up and down Lake Michigan’s shoreline, though different areas have various quantities of certain types. To find good specimens, she encourages collectors to look at both sides of the rock, come early in the day and use sunglasses to reduce glare from the water.

She said visitors are allowed to collect 25 pounds of rocks per year from state land.