Conservation Resource Alliance
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Wrapping Up 2018 with the Return of a River

February 25, 2019


The Boardman River, originally known as the Ottaway River, is meandering over land once again with the removal of Sabin Dam. The channel was set in its final alignment on December 12 and is now flowing freely where the powerhouse once stood.
 
The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and their contractors, Job Site Services (JSS) and M. J. Van Damme Inc. are wrapping up most of the major earthwork and are expected to finish in 2019. Remaining tasks include revegetation, cleaning sediment traps, and placing boulders and wood in the stream in order to break up the river current, improve fish habitat and provide streambank protection.
 
The dam’s original builders had dredged and lowered the river eight feet to help increase energy output, however, this considerable elevation change can cause the river to flow too rapidly and trigger erosion. To protect the streambank, contractors built a rock-lined stream channel, armored with cobbles and boulders and complete with root wads and fabric encapsulated soil (FES).
 
The Sabin Dam removal project area is still considered an active construction site and safety is a top priority, thus please stay on designated trails and do not walk around barricades. Please do not paddle or fish through the river downstream of Cass Road Bridge. Recreationists are asked to exit the river at the new access site created immediately upstream or south of Cass Road Bridge. During the winter and spring of 2019 there will be continuing restoration activities utilizing heavy equipment in the stream channel through the former Boardman Dam impoundment too, so please use caution in that stretch and abide by closure signs posted by contractors.
 
Plans to modify Union Street Dam, the last remaining dam in the river, are well underway. The Great Lakes Fishery Commission completed a geotechnical investigation and has a design in place for their state-of-the-art FishPass project. The project engineer, AECOM, and the USACE are working with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to provide necessary information for the Joint Permit Application (JPA), and the MDEQ’s public comment period will begin early next year.

Contact Nate Winkler or Kim Balke, CRA Project Managers, with questions at nate@rivercare.orgkim@rivercare.org or call (231) 946-6817.

Visit rivercare.org for more information on CRA's projects or to make a donation.






 

Before - Sabin Dam was originally built in 1906, rebuilt and repaired in 1914 and 1930, and had a 32’ height difference between the surface of the pond and river downstream.  The earthen embankment that held the pond back next to the spillway and powerhouse was 340’ long.












 
After – The powerhouse and concrete spillway are gone, and the river clips along in their place. A combination of wood, rock, and fabric encapsulated soil lifts provide a stable channel and streambanks.

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Conservation Resource Alliance

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10850 Traverse Highway, Suite 1180
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231-946-6817

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