A dam removal project along the Boardman River can begin next spring thanks to a $1 million grant from the Great Lakes Fishery Trust.
The grant will fund removal of the Brown Bridge Dam, the farthest upstream of three dams slated for removal. Its demolition will have the most significant ecological impact, restoring 156 acres of river wetlands, according to state fisheries biologist Todd Kalish.
“This funding is absolutely critical,” Kalish said. “We definitely want to show our appreciation for the Fishery Trust to pursue this project, which will enhance the environmental, economic, and social status of the Boardman River watershed for this and future generations.”
The project is the largest dam removal effort in Michigan’s history, as it will cost between $5 million and $8 million. Additionally, it will be one of the most significant wetland restoration projects to take place in the Great Lakes Basin, involving more than 250 acres of wetlands.
The river’s watershed spans 295 square miles and drains roughly 182,800 acres of land along 130 miles of river, and it contributes roughly one-third of the water volume to West Grand Traverse Bay. The river also supports Great Lakes migratory fish species, including salmon, steelhead, and brown trout. It’s deemed one of the top-ten trout streams in Michigan.
The dam removal project will help to improve cold water fish habitat, water supply, water quality, soil erosion control, and riparian habitat. The dams have made it difficult or impossible for fish to successfully migrate through the river, interfering with natural food chains. The dams also interfere with water temperature, which many fish species rely on for signals related to reproduction and growth. The reduced flow generated on the river has led to warmer water, which holds less dissolved oxygen and can be problematic or lethal to underwater life.
The restoration effort had already collected federal grants totaling $1.1 million, but work would have to be postponed until 2011 to use that funding. The other two dams are slated for removal by the US Army Corps of Engineers, and a fourth dam will require modification to complete the project.
$1 Million awarded for Boardman dam removal & restoration [The Grand Vision] $1M grant allows dam removal to begin [Traverse City Record-Eagle]
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