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 next-up project sites. The Village of Baldwin is home to the Baldwin River Dam and all its complicated glory and rich history.

Over the years, the Baldwin River Dam site has continuously changed shape and function. In the 1880s, the dam was originally built to support a grist and sawmill. As the industrial age in America steamed on, the dam provided water for the nearby railroad in the early 1900s. In the 1950s it was transformed into a state fish hatchery. The deed to the site has passed hand numerous times and proving its versatility yet again, the site was transformed with an added campground and a food stand in the 2000s.

The current property owner has partnered with CRA and numerous other organizations to develop options for the site.

There are three deteriorating water control structures and 6-8 fish raceways overgrown with vegetation or filled with sediment and stagnant water. The original channel flows to the 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 and water being routed around an island with additional water control structures.


The current dam restricting the river.

Overgrown Raceways from above.

Close up of the deteriorating concrete raceways.

The ultimate goal is to remove the dam and related infrastructure and restore a stable river channel and floodplain. Options are being explored for constructing a seasonal or temporary sea lamprey barrier that would prevent sea lamprey infestation of 28 miles upstream.

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 is currently wrapping up the process of reconstructing the bridge. 

High water events led to the closure of the 8th Street Bridge in Baldwin.

CRA Program Director, Kimberly Balke, checks out the deconstruction of the 8th Street Bridge in December of 2022.

A May 2023 drone photo captures the nearly finished 8th Street Bridge. The Village of Baldwin led and funded this leg of the project.

Follow us along this journey as we help to restore the Baldwin River to a more stable channel and get this site to look more natural!

Special thanks to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and MDNR Fisheries Habitat Program for funding the options analysis phase with the design team, AECOM, InterFluve, and Fishbeck, as CRA helps facilitate the diverse partners and stakeholders working together with dam owner Jim Truxton towards selecting the best alternative for the site.

Downstream of the 8th Street Bridge lies more water control structures in the river’s heart-shaped Oxbow. The site was formally home to a campground.

A close-up of the water control structure in the oxbow.

Dave’s Riverside Café, now closed, provides a glimpse into the site’s rich 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

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.


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