The goal is to increase the recreational use of the Grand River for the citizens of Michigan. The DNR feasibility study as published would allow for boating and other types of water recreation to coexist in the project area as it exists currently with buoys upstream 17.5 miles from Grand Haven to the Bass River Inlet.
1) With this project the DNR has completed a first time ever topographic study from Fulton St. to the Bass River Inlet. This will be a baseline for future study.
2) A first time ever mussel study was completed. These phase 1 and phase 2 studies report that downstream from the 28th St. bridge the river bottom soil is not suitable habitat for mussels. Upstream from 28th St. there are mussels and 2 areas need more analysis if work is to be done in that segment of the river.
3) A first time ever economic study was completed by a nationally recognized economic group, Anderson Economics. This is the same group that reported on the GR Whitewater project and it projects 33,000 visitors a year would boat on the waterway. The activity would generate $5.7 million a year in economic activity with no consideration for any new hotels, restaurants or possibly marinas. Additionally, it projects an increase in property values for the property along the river. Over a ten year period of time this would amount to $111.4 million ($57M in economic activity; $54.4M in property values) in value for a project estimated to cost $2.15 million.
4) Now the DNR is considering a first time ever sampling of the river at the dredge locations. This will provide the 4th piece of information ( a first) about the river that benefits the State of Michigan. Why wouldn’t we want to know what is in the soil? Wolverine’s mess was hidden for decades. Do we want that for the Grand River? It would be good to know what is in the Grand River rather than hear the idle speculation of contamination. Just for information, many people thought the river bottom in the Whitewater project downtown Grand Rapids would be contaminated; but, after testing they found the soil was clean. We should know more about our river!
5) A decision to test does not obligate the State to issue a dredge permit.
6) As a possible option, the above summary memo refers to alternate dredge depth scenarios. To further minimize the project the State may consider the 6’ depth. That by itself would reduce the dredging volumes by about 60% (40,956 yards) and increase the untouched river bottom to 19.5 miles, 20%, but at same time meet the original Army Corp of Engineers goal with some cushion.