Business owners in Leland Township have raised thousands of dollars to dredge their money-making harbor, in hopes of ensuring a prosperous summer season.
Since it's construction back in 1965, the harbor has been an vital addition to the Leland economy, as Great Lakes boaters spend their money at local grocery stores, bars and restaurants. Harbor Master Russell Dzuba says, "From the fourth of July to labor day, its non-stop traffic thorough the harbor and those people come in and drop a lot of money."
The Leland harbor hasn't been drenched since 2009 and as a result sand has built up, making it impossible for most boats to enter. In past years, Leland harbor was able to pay for dredging by applying for funds from congress. But lately, it has not been granted the earmarks.
"The federal government has left us on our own and that being said we're not going to sit and cry about it, we're going to do the job ourselves," says Dzuba.
In January, Township officials, business leaders and fisheries started a fundraiser to dredge the harbor, and since then have raised $60,000 dollars.
But the $60,000 dollars raised locally will only cover a small portion of the work. Dzuba says, "We're going to have to agree to a promising-note to pay remainder of the tab at the end of the season, when we've had a chance to make some money."
While the harbor will be open this summer, Dzuba says local business owners can't and won't pay for the dredging service year after year.
So the harbor is looking to the federal government to step up. They have joined the Great Lakes Small Harbor Collation, a group of federal harbors and channels that are asking congress for assistance.
In fact, there is legislation in the Senate right now, that would tap into the $6 Billion dollar Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, to pay for dredging services.
If you would like to make a donation to the Leland Harbor Dredging Project Fundraiser, you can direct your contributions to:
Address: 107 North Lake Street, Leland, MI 49654
Phone: (231) 256-9132 or (231) 256-9132