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E-M:/ Historic Agreement Signed as First Step in Restoring Boardman River to Natural State



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Enviro-Mich message from "Richard Morscheck" <morscher@michigan.gov>
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, 07 June 2005
Contacts: Todd Kalish 231-922-5280, ext. 6870, Mary Dettloff 517-335-3014

Historic Agreement Signed as First Step
in Restoring Boardman River to Natural State

A historic agreement between local, state, tribal and federal officials was inked Wednesday that is seen as the first step to potentially restoring the Boardman River in northwest Michigan to a free-flowing, natural state.

At the center of the agreement is the license surrender, decommissioning and potential disposition of three hydroelectric dams -- Sabin, Boardman and Brown Bridge -- and one lake control dam (Union Street in Traverse City) on the Boardman River in Grand Traverse County. The agreement is the first of its kind to be crafted and executed in Michigan.

"Successful completion of this project will lead to rehabilitation of the Boardman River as a premier trout stream," said Todd Kalish, Department of Natural Resources fisheries management biologist.

The settlement agreement was negotiated by the DNR, the Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Grand Traverse County, the city of Traverse City, Traverse City Board of Light and Power, the Michigan Hydro Re-licensing Coalition, and the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. The agreement outlines the process for license surrender, dam decommissioning, developing an engineering/feasibility study, preparing an environmental assessment and gathering community input, which will be used by the city of Traverse City and Grand Traverse County to make an informed decision about the final disposition of the dams. This process is expected to take two to three years.

The hydroelectric facilities currently are under the jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The agreement will be forwarded to FERC to start the process of license surrender and decommissioning. Once that process is complete, the regulatory oversight for the facilities will be turned over to the appropriate authority under the Michigan Dam Safety Act.

The key value of the Boardman River watershed is its ability to sustain cold water aquatic communities and habitat. Currently, the dams on the river degrade that habitat by warming water temperatures, inhibiting the flow of nutrients, sediments and woody debris and segregating aquatic communities by limiting their movement throughout the watershed.
 
The DNR is committed to the conservation, protection, management, use and enjoyment of the state's natural resources for current and future generations.

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