Wildlife concerns surface over Boardman River restoration project

Work continues on the largest dam removal project in Michigan's history.

In August, workers started demolishing one of the three dams on the Boardman River to bring back the river's historic flow pattern. The Sabin, Brown Bridge and Boardman Dams are all being removed.

Traverse City and Grand Traverse County officials agreed to the project because the dams no longer generate hydropower. This first phase costs $2.9 million and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Project designers are predicting great ecological growth in the river system, however there is some concern about how far Great Lakes fish will be able to migrate into the river system.

â??Right now, for many decades, the up stream limit for the great lakes species, invasive and otherwise, has been Sabin Damâ?¦when Sabin Dam is removed it is going to allow the potential for certain things for move up stream into what has been a protected self sustaining wild trout population,â?? said local angler Dave Leonhard.

Leonhard tells 7&4 News he would like the existing Union Street gate to be closed to prevent disruption of the riverâ??s ecosystem.

The Boardman River Project Coordinator for the Grand Traverse Conservation District said there will be public input on this issue as the dam removal project progresses.

â??Great Lakes fish, you know, that issue has not been decided and there will be more discussion on that in the future,â?? said Steve Largent.

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