Determining the Future of Baldwin River Dam

Aug 1, 2023

Project Highlights

Project Type

Dam Removal, River Restoration, and Sea Lamprey Barrier

River Miles to be Restored

12 miles of mainstem river, with 93 miles of tributaries to be reconnected

Location of Project

Baldwin, Michigan

Wildlife to be Benefited

Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Coho Salmon, Chinook Salmon, Spotted Turtle, semi-aquatic reptiles and amphibians, and cold-water aquatic macroinvertebrates

A drone captures the complicated site from above in August of 2022. Deteriorating water control structures and overgrown fish raceways plague the vital section of the Pere Marquette River.

Project Overview

Nestled in one of Michigan’s most prominent fly-fishing meccas lies one of CRA’s most complex project sites. The Village of Baldwin is home to the Baldwin River Dam and all its dynamic glory and rich history.

Over the years, the site has continuously changed shape and function. Initially built in the 1880s, the dam was designed to support a grist and sawmill. As the industrial age in America steamed on, the dam provided water for the nearby railroad. In the 1950s, it was transformed into a state fish hatchery. The deed to the property has since changed hands numerous times and was even converted into a campground with a quirky food stand in the early 2000s.

Currently vacant, there are three deteriorating water control structures and eight fish raceways overgrown with vegetation or filled with sediment and stagnant water. The original channel flows north of the site, wrapping around the north and west sides of the former raceways. The river is further manipulated downstream with concrete walls comprising the streambanks, routing the river around an island with additional water control structures. The ultimate goal is to remove the dam and all related infrastructure to restore a stable river channel and floodplain.

In 2010, 2011, and 2019, high water events further stressed the site, triggering problems with downstream properties and the eventual closure of the 8th Street bridge. The Village of Baldwin has since rebuilt the bridge, finishing construction in May 2023.


In early 2024, CRA and project partners selected design alternatives for channel alignment (the historic channel) and a sea lamprey barrier (downstream of the new 8th Street Bridge). The image below details what the restored channel will look like when completed. 

The selected design alternative the for the site will return the Baldwin River to its historic channel and flow above the 8th street bridge. Rectifying 140 years of impoundment.

What’s next? The AECOM design team will now develop their scope of work for the final design of the alternatives and permit applications with CRA, The Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC), and landowner Jim Truxton. CRA is actively pursuing final design and construction funds for this project.

Please continue to follow us along this journey as we help to restore the Baldwin River and write the next chapter of its storied history.

Projects like this are not possible without the help of our funders and partners.

We’d like to send a special thank you to:


Great Lakes Fishery Commission and MDNR Fisheries Habitat Program, The Brookby Foundation, DTE Energy Foundation, Walters Family Foundation, Andrew R. and Janet F. Miller Foundation, The George Fund, EGLE Dam Risk Reduction Grant Program.

Partners Involved:

The Great Lakes Fishery Commission, MDNR, EGLE, USFWS, AECOM, InterFluve and Fishbeck (Design team), Jim Truxton – Property owner, Pere Marquette Watershed Council, CRA, Mason Lake Conservation District, Village of Baldwin, Inter-fluve, and Fishbeck