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Permit Applications Submitted for Interim Drawdown of Brown Bridge & Sabin Dam Impoundments

May 31, 2011
For Immediate Release

Contacts: Chuck Lombardo, CML Marketing, (231) 922-6782, clombardo@cmlmc.com
Todd Kalish, Michigan DNR, (231) 775-9727 ext. 6070, kalisht@michigan.gov

 

Traverse City, Michigan – The City of Traverse City (City) and Grand Traverse County (County) have submitted permit applications for the interim drawdown of the impoundments (ponds) at Brown Bridge and Sabin Dams. The interim drawdowns will be accomplished by utilizing the existing water control structures, not by breaching the dams. The City is the owner of Brown Bridge Dam and the County is the owner of Sabin Dam.

Brown Bridge Dam is the first of three dams that will be removed on the Boardman River. Drawdown at Brown Bridge is expected to begin after the receipt of the interim drawdown permit by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). Pending permit approval, drawdown at Brown Bridge Pond could begin in late summer or fall 2011. MDEQ has 90 days to respond to the permit application. Any citizen may request a public hearing on the permit application prior to MDEQ approval. Deconstruction of Brown Bridge Dam is scheduled to begin in 2012.

Brown Bridge Dam and its approximately 170-acre impoundment are within the 1,310-acre Brown Bridge Quiet Area that is owned by the City and managed by the Grand Traverse Conservation District. Nearly 100 acres of previously inundated bottomlands will be exposed following the 13-foot interim drawdown. Dam removal will restore the entire surface area of Brown Bridge Pond to a free flowing river. Approximately 34 acres of previously inundated bottomlands will be exposed following the 7-foot interim drawdown at Sabin Pond. Dam removal will restore the entire surface area of Sabin Pond to a free flowing river.

When Brown Bridge, Sabin and Boardman Dams are removed, over 3 miles of cold-water stream and more than 250 acres of wetlands and nearly 60 acres of upland habitat will be restored in the Boardman River watershed.

“When completed, the removal of the three Boardman River Dams will be the largest dam removal in Michigan’s history and the largest wetlands restoration in the Great Lakes Basin,” said Todd Kalish, Chairman of the City/County-appointed Boardman Dams Implementation Team. “It will reconnect 160 miles of free flowing river with the Great Lakes for the first time in nearly 150 years.”

Kalish said that the eventual restoration of the cold water river and wetland habitat will support fishery and wildlife resources, and enhance biodiversity in a watershed that currently supports 2 million recreational user days each year. This represents a significant economic impact on the region and State.

To learn more about the project and stay updated, visit www.theboardman.org.

THE BOARDMAN: A RIVER REBORN - PROJECT HISTORY

Traverse City Light and Power’s decision in 2004 to discontinue hydropower generation at Brown Bridge, Boardman and Sabin Dams triggered a process to assess the fate of the dams that were built between 1867 and 1921. The Great Lakes Fishery Trust awarded $476,000 in 2006 to support the process to determine the fate of dams. That process is considered one of the most comprehensive studies of its type ever undertaken in the United States. It involved over 1,000 people in 180 public meetings and the assessment of 81 options for the future of the dams. In April 2009, the City Commission and the County Board of Commissioners reviewed the scientific data and recommendations provided by the study, and voted to proceed with dam removal. In September 2010, the development of funding to sustain this project was supported by a joint resolution of the City Commission and County Board to “achieve the shared goals for a coordinated process to pursue the removal of Sabin, Boardman and Brown Bridge Dams and modify Union Street Dam.”

ABOUT THE BOARDMAN RIVER

The Boardman River includes 160 miles of river and tributary stream, located in Grand Traverse and Kalkaska counties in Northwest Michigan. There are a total of 287-square miles in the watershed, producing one-third of the water volume of Grand Traverse Bay in Traverse City and draining 182,800 acres of land. An estimated 2 million visitors use the Boardman River annually for recreation purposes. The Boardman River is designated as one of the top ten trout streams in Michigan, is a State designated Natural River, and 36 river miles are designated as Blue Ribbon river sections.


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