Platte River Mouth Restoration and Access Plan / Environmental Assessment Public Scoping

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Date: October 1, 2015

Dusty Shultz announced today that the National Park Service (NPS) proposes to develop a Platte River Mouth Restoration and Access Plan / Environmental Assessment (EA).

The Platte River is located in the southern portion of the National Lakeshore and discharges into Lake Michigan. Benzie County owns and manages a recreational boat launch at Platte River Point, approximately 900 feet from the river mouth, at the end of Lake Michigan Road. It is most heavily used in the fall by salmon fishermen to get their boats into Platte Bay and greater Lake Michigan. Dredging between the boat launch and river mouth has been performed regularly since 1968 by the NPS or the State. Dredging has typically occurred after Labor Day, primarily at the sand bars at the river mouth. In 2013, budget constraints led the NPS to stop dredging, and the State of Michigan dredged that year instead. Due to high lake levels and economic constraints, dredging has not occurred since then. A large quantity of stockpiled dredge spoils (sand and gravel removed from the river) is located near the mouth of the river, on the eastern side. Dredging of the river and continued deposition of spoils on the shore cause negative environmental impacts. 

The 2009 General Management Plan (GMP) for the park, states the NPS will provide Lake Michigan boat access within a designated “high use zone” at the mouth of the Platte River that would allow for “boat ramps or docks.” The GMP also states a “separate Environmental Impact Statement would be needed to determine whether there may be alternatives for providing this access in a way that lessens impacts to resources and visitors’ experiences” and that “cessation of dredging would likely be a component of one or more of these alternatives.” Two preliminary studies have been conducted to evaluate access alternatives and riverbank restoration. Alternatives developed in these studies are proposed to be evaluated as part of this planning process, including:

  • Alternative 1 – Recreational boat access via the Platte River by continuing or allowing dredging and placement of the spoils on the eastern riverbank. This is called the “No Action” alternative.
  • Alternative 2 – Recreational boat access via the Platte River without dredging; removal of the existing dredge spoil pile and restoration of the eastern riverbank.
  • Alternative 3 – New recreational boat access east of the river mouth; removal of the existing dredge spoil pile and restoration of the eastern riverbank.
  • Alternative 4 – New recreational boat access at Illinois Drive; removal of the existing dredge spoil pile and restoration of the eastern riverbank.
  • Alternative 5 – New recreational boat access at Tiesma Road; removal of the existing dredge spoil pile and restoration of the eastern riverbank.

A public scoping meeting on this project is scheduled for October 15, 2015 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Philip A. Hart Visitor Center Auditorium in Empire, Michigan. A presentation will be made at the start of the meeting to inform the public about the project purpose and need, and access alternatives.  NPS staff will be available to answer questions about the project.  

Your comments regarding issues or concerns are an important part of this planning and impact assessment process. You can find background information and provide your comments online at parkplanning.nps.gov/platte. Comments may also be mailed to the National Lakeshore at: Superintendent, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, 9922 Front Street, Empire, MI 49630.

The National Lakeshore requests that you provide your comments by November 15, 2015.  The comments you submitted during this planning period will be evaluated and considered during the development of the EA. The EA is scheduled to be made available for further public review and comment in fall 2016.

The National Lakeshore looks forward to receiving your thoughts and opinions concerning the project purpose and need, and alternatives for access, and other ideas. For more information, please contact Kevin Skerl, Chief of Natural Resources, at (231) 326-4750. 

Last updated: October 1, 2015

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9922 Front Street
Empire, MI 49630

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(231) 326-4700

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