Lake Superior habitat threatened from historic mines and high water levels

Local News

Summer 2019 dredging of the Grand Traverse Harbor in Keweenaw County. (Photo Courtesy: Credit: Michigan Department of Natural Resources)

KEWEENAW COUNTY, Mich. (WLNS) – Late season fall storms and high water levels are choking the waterway on on Lake Superior.

Heavy equipment operators are scheduled to dredge stamp sands this week that are threatening the Grand Traverse Harbor.

“Sands will be removed from the harbor and also from the beach, up to 1,000 feet north of the breakwater, to help keep the harbor open,” said Jay Parent, district supervisor of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy’s Water Resources Division in Marquette.

Over 100 years of historic copper mine tailings called stamp sands from milling sites along Lake Superior moved down the shoreline towards Buffalo Reef.

The threatened spawning habitat is important to Lake Superior whitefish and lake trout.

“Anything we do now to remove stamp sands from the beach and harbor will help reduce the threat to Buffalo Reef overall,” said John Pepin, Michigan Department of Natural Resources deputy public information officer.

In addition to the dredging that took place over recent months, crews have worked to move the stamp sand pile at the original deposit site back from the shoreline.

“These efforts were undertaken to help cut-off the supply of stamp sands feeding down the lakeshore toward the harbor,” Parent said.

Crews worked last month to pull back the original deposit pile of stamp sands at Gay, Michigan from the Lake Superior shoreline.
Photo Courtesy: Michigan Department of Natural Resources

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