Reclaiming the Boardman River – Easy? “No” – Worth it? “Yes”

October 7, 2012

Lakes & Rivers

No one ever said that a project which sets out to remove three dams and connect some 150 miles of riparian habitat along the Boardman River corridor in Grand Traverse County would be easy.  The recent partial and limited failure of a temporary dam installed at the Brown Bridge Dam pond should in no way minimize the positive benefits of an initiative of this magnitude.

Photo – Courtesy of Steve Largent – Grand Traverse County Conservation District

We are in no way attempting to understate the significance of the incident on those affected property owners who, as a precautionary measure, were forced to evacuate their homes.  We merely feel that it is appropriate to put this incident in its proper context: that being, the end result of this public-private initiative which is national in scale, years in the dreaming, and nearly three million dollars in the making will be well worth it.The additional reality is that the structure being removed at the Brown Bridge Road was some 90 years old.  It is far better to have a partial, limited failure occur at the time of comprehensive removal with contractors and equipment on site as a part of an engineered de-watering process, than to deal with what could potentially have occurred as a result of an unplanned event.

Putting all of this in its proper perspective is far easier after seeing last week’s photographs, provided by Steve Largent and the Grand Traverse County Conservation District. Seeing even this limited portion of the Boardman River recall its natural meander memory and expose the rock and cobble long since buried in the depths of an impoundment serves to remind us what can be accomplished when a partnership effort of this scale is pursued by those who can see a river beneath a pond.

Reexposed Gravel from Historic River Bed – Courtesty of Steve Largent and the Grand Traverse County Conservation District

We hope to write more in the future about a project which serves as a national benchmark for what can be done when those who have a vision which extends beyond the limits of PowerPoint presentation.  For the purpose of this NMCN post, we will let the images say what words cannot.  More information on the project is available at www.theboardman.orgOur thanks again to Steve Largent and the Grand Traverse County Conservation District who have not only have made these photographs available, but were among those who have made northern Michigan a better place because of their efforts.

About Northern Michigan Conservation Network

The mission of the Northern Michigan Conservation Network is to "connect conservation-minded hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts to those issues affecting Michigan's forests, waters, and wildlife."

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