New Wolverine Class cutter suction dredger, built by DSC Dredge for Leland Township Board, was put into the water for the first time on April 8, according to the Leland Michigan Chamber of Commerce.
The board purchased this CSD with all ancillary equipment and items for $488,681. They were able to purchase the new dredger through community fundraising.
The Leland harbor used to get money for dredging from state and federal government. But once that stopped, it made dredging a struggle for decades.
“If the harbor’s closed that effects navigation on the lake but for this little village. It’s the economic shot in the arm. This ensures we can dredge the channel every year,” said Harbormaster Russell Dzuba.
The last time dredging work in Leland harbor took place in 2014.
In 1965, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) built the Leland Township Harbor as a “harbor of refuge.” Since then, the Leland Harbor has been dredged a total of 47 times at a cost now approaching $3.4 million.
During the last six years, the cost has been approximately $850.000 to have dredging completed.
Annual dredging has routinely been conducted by the USACE in order to assure the accessibility of the harbor in all weather conditions, with federal funding.
All that changed about 10 years ago when Congress eliminated “earmarks” in the federal budgeting process.
Since that time, Leland Harbor has had as its annual singular focus the need to obtain funding to conduct its annual dredging.
In 2013, the harbor had to pay $129.000 of its own funds to have the channel dredged. Three years ago, the State of Michigan provided the necessary funding in the amount of $192.000 and two years ago, the USACE spent $177.000 to complete the dredging.
In 2016 the Leland Harbor was not dredged.