MI - MDNR: High Water Levels Force Continued Dredging at Grand Traverse Harbor
Fall storms threaten important lake whitefish spawning habitat
KEWEENAW COUNTY — Heavy equipment operators began work recently to dredge stamp sands north of Grand Traverse Harbor in Keweenaw County.
Roughly 100 years ago, historic copper mine tailings from the Wolverine and Mohawk mines – called stamp sands – were deposited at a milling site along Lake Superior, located in the community of Gay in Keweenaw County.
Since that time, the stamp sands have been moved by winds and waves south down the shoreline 5 miles, inundating natural sand beach areas and threatening to cover spawning habitat and recruitment areas important to Lake Superior whitefish and lake trout on and around Buffalo Reef.
A multi-entity effort, primarily funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, has been mounted to combat the stamp sands problem.
During the winter of 2019-2020, workers contracted by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources cleared the dark-colored stamp sands from the harbor and a portion of the beach.
However, lake currents and waves have continued to push stamp sands to the harbor, especially with the aid of powerful fall and winter storms.