Lake Erie Bluff Recession Control Point Monitoring

DEP's Coastal Resources Management Program actively monitors approximately 130 established control points along Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie shoreline (the actual number may change due to control points being abandoned or new control points established). These control points are used to determine local annual rates of bluff recession, help identify Bluff Recession Hazard Areas, and help determine minimum bluff setback distances in accordance with the Chapter 85 Bluff Recession and Setback regulations.

A control point is a fixed marker, such as a buried steel pin or existing utility pole, from which a direct measurement to the bluff crest is made. The control points are located approximately every one-half kilometer along the bluff crest from the Ohio to the New York borders. Direct measurements from the control points to the bluff crest are taken every four to five years, with the assistance of Global Positioning System technology. Records of the measured distances from the fixed control points to bluff crest are maintained by the Department. At locations where the bluff line is actively receding, that measured distance gradually decreases from year to year. Over time, an average rate of bluff recession at that location emerges from the collected data.

The first control point was established in 1975 in an effort to begin monitoring the stability of bluff conditions along Lake Erie. The control point program began in earnest in 1982, when 47 control points were established along the bluff crest. An additional 69 control points were established in 1986 and 1987. Changes in land use and on-site construction activities sometimes necessitate the need to move control points or cause the control points to be lost. The control point management and measurement program is an on-going process.

Please contact Matt Walderon at mwalderon@pa.gov if you have any questions or comments.


Links for more Information:

Bluff Recession Hazard Area Designations

Downloadable Materials:

Recession maps and graphs (pdf)
Municipal Reference Document - Compilation of Field Interpretations and Department Guidance for Bluff Recession and Setback Act (redirects to DEP's eLibrary)