DNR Hosts Public Meeting on Grand Traverse Dredging

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will host a public meeting on the proposed dredging project designed to restore the Grand Traverse Harbor channel and help protect Buffalo Reef.

The meeting is set to take place at 6 p.m. Thursday, August 3, at the Lake Linden-Hubbell High School Auditorium.

Public input from this meeting will be considered before the project application is finalized, DNR said.

Representatives of several agencies cooperating with the DNR on the proposed project will attend the session, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Background

Tailings, or waste rock from mining, known locally as “stamp sands,” were dumped into Lake Superior near the community of Gay, more than 100 years ago. These sands have moved, with the action of the lake, about 5 miles south along the coast and in nearshore areas.

The stamps sands are now filling in Grand Traverse Harbor and threaten Buffalo Reef, an important spawning area for lake trout and whitefish.

The DNR is applying for a permit from the DEQ, under the Great Lakes Submerged Lands Act, to allow USACE to remove some of the stamp sands from the lake. Doing this will reestablish the Grand Traverse Harbor channel and provide 5-7 years of protection for Buffalo Reef.

The EPA has provided funding for the Army Corps to design and carry out the dredging work to remove 205,000 cubic yards of stamp sand; about 35,000 cubic yards from in or near the harbor and 170,000 cubic yards to protect Buffalo Reef.

Over the next couple of years, a task force will be convened by the EPA to develop a long-term plan for protecting the harbor and reef.

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