Corps awards contract for removal of Michigan’s Boardman Dam

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a $6.3 million contract to the Michels Corp. for the removal of the Boardman Dam and restoration of Michigan’s Boardman River.

Boardman Dam is an earthen material and concrete structure that impounds Boardman Pond (also known as Keystone Pond), which has a drainage area of about 270 square miles.

The Corps’ Detroit District said its removal will not only aid in restoring the river’s ecosystem, but also provide connectivity to Grand Traverse Bay in Lake Michigan.

“This project will help restore the Boardman River to its pre-dam configuration and result in significant ecological benefits throughout the watershed,” said Carl Platz, USACE Great Lakes program manager.

Boardman is one of five constructed in the late 1800s and early 1900s by Queen City Light and Power to produce hydro power, though none of the four dams still in existence are currently used for generation.

The removal of Boardman and the other remaining dams — Union Street, Sabin and Brown Bridge — has been in motion for years now, with a coalition including Grand Traverse County and Traverse City receiving a preliminary permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2009 to pursue the project.

That permit was revoked in October 2011, however, when FERC decided the parties didn’t show enough progress to prohibit at least two interested parties from rehabilitating the dams’ hydroelectric capabilities.

Those proposals were eventually dropped, however, leading to an interagency agreement between the Environmental Protection Agency and the Corps to remove Boardman Dam, using funding from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

“This collaboration with EPA and all federal, state, tribal and local stakeholders has resulted in a tremendous partnership, with all parties focused on a common goal,” Platz said.

Michels, based in Brownsville, Wisc., will begin the removal this spring with a contract completion date of December 2018.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for

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