Township scrambling to dredge money-making harbor
As the summer season quickly approaches, a northern Michigan township is scrambling to dredge it's money-making harbor.
Right now, the Leland Harbor Master Russell Dzuba says he's having to turn boaters away and for all intents and purposes, the channel is closed because there's not enough water to navigate through.
Harbor Master Russell Dzuba says the harbor is in the exact same situation it was in one year ago, but thanks to community donations and harbor funds, they were able to dredge the harbor and salvage a short summer season.
Despite the emergency dredging funding approved by Gov. Snyder in March of this year, Dzuba says they're still looking at a late start to the season. The boating season for Leland usually starts in late May or early June. Dzuba said starting two weeks late will affect the local businesses.
Right now, there's a lot of shoaling in the channel, and Dzuba says there's only a small narrow opening in the channel that is three feet wide and only eight feet deep. Ideally, the channel should be 145 feet wide and 13 feet deep.
"Here we go again, that's just the way it works. Thereâ??s a lot of shoaling out there you could go to six feet to two feet in a heart beat, my fear is that someone shows up at 7:30pm at night and doesnâ??t call me in advance and if he goes aground he stays there."
Dzuba says sailboats that draw more than four feet and power-boats that draw five feet are being directed away from the channel.
The state gave Leland Township two options on how to go about dredging it's harbor. One, the Army Corps of Engineers would handle the project, but they couldn't start until mid-July, which Dzuba said would not work. Option two was to have the township coordinate and execute the dredging project, which is proving to be a lengthy process.
"The contractors have to get here and mobilize so we're looking at mid-June," Dzuba said.
The boating season for Leland usually starts in late May or early June and Dzuba says starting two weeks late will affect the local economy.
"I don't want to beat up on the Governor because he did a wonderful thing by appropriating that money, its just to have it happen as late as itâ??s happening everyone is white knuckled because of the impact on our community," says Dzuba.
The dredging project will cost about $175,000 dollars which will be covered by the state. Dzuba is hoping to have the dredging done by mid-June. Dzuba says the harbor has missed out on nearly $3,500 dollars of fuel sales in the month of April because of the narrow channel.
Dzuba says he's a member of a group called the Great Lakes Small Harbor Coalition. The group is looking to find a long-term solution to the re-occurring dredging problem. The coalition plans to hire a lobbyist to the Nation's Capitol to try to secure federal funding.