Final approvals were recently granted by government regulatory agencies for a dredging project set to begin this summer at the Grand Traverse Bay Harbor in Houghton County, according to a press release from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The work is part of the ongoing effort to save Buffalo Reef, an important Lake Superior natural fish-spawning reef from being covered by shifting stamp sands.
“This dredging project would buy 5 to 7 years of protection for the reef and the whitefish juvenile recruitment area south of the harbor,” said Steve Casey, Upper Peninsula district supervisor for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Water Resources Division.
“In the meantime, we need to develop a long-term, adaptive management plan, a solution, for the Gay stamp sands problem.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has provided $3.1 million to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to design and carry out the dredging work, scheduled for May 2018.
Under the permit, a total of 172,500 cubic yards of stamp sands are expected to be removed from an underwater bedrock trough, moving the sand to a 37-acre placement site that has the capacity to store 380,000 cubic yards.
This 2,350-foot-long by 700-foot placement area, located about 1.5 miles from the dredge location, would be north of Buffalo Reef, behind a temporary berm.
Another 20,000 cubic yards of sand would be removed from Grand Traverse Harbor, while 10,000 cubic yards of material would be dredged from an upland area next to the harbor, on the beach.
Bids are expected to be solicited soon, with a contract awarded in late spring, said DNR.