Army Corps of Engineers determines no significant impact to the environment by removing Boardman dams

Plans for the removal of more Boardman River dams are moving forward tonight after the release of a new study that suggests there won't be any significant environmental impacts.

The Army Corps of Engineers has released their latest project report regarding the removal of the Boardman and Sabin Dams, and modification of the Union Street Dam.

The dams are failing, and the county received orders from the Department of Environmental Quality to remove them in December 2012. It will eventually become a public safety issue, but for now theyâ??ve drawn down the ponds to lessen the pressure against the dams â?? which greatly reduces the potential for them to burst.

Putting the dams in altered the ecosystem â?? the dams created ponds, warming the water â?? and now the concern is to get the ecosystem back to normal.

While the Army Corps of Engineers claim the changes will cause a shift from cool to cold water fish habitat and increase the wetland area, they say this is a return to the river's natural state and will not have any significant adverse impact to the environment.

After a public comment meeting, the Corps will take the publicâ??s input and put together another assessment/report and complete the determination on whether or not there is or is not any significant impacts. If no significant impacts are found, the project becomes eligible for ten million dollars in federal funding.

â??It deals not only with the impact on wildlife, fish habitat, it deals with economic impact, it deals with social impacts - it tries to look at everything that is surrounding the removal of these dams and what impact it might have,â?? said Dave Benda, the Grand Traverse County Administrator.

Officials say a different approach is being taken to remove the remaining two dams, so flooding - as was an issue with the Brown Bridge Dam removal - is not a concern.

The hope is to accomplish everything within the next few years. The goal is to remove the dams in 2016 and have the entire project completed in 2017.

The meeting for public comment is being held at the Civic Center on August 7 from 5-8pm.

If you are unable to attend the meeting, you can submit an e-mail on the Army Corps of Engineers website or call the Grand Traverse County Governmental Center.