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Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore) Acting Superintendent Tom Ulrich announced today that the National Park Service (NPS) has made the public scoping analysis report for the Platte River Mouth Restoration and Access Plan / Environmental Assessment (EA) available for public review.
The Platte River is located in the southern portion of the National Lakeshore and flows into Lake Michigan. Dredging between the Lake Michigan Road boat launch and river mouth has been performed regularly since 1968 by the NPS or the State of Michigan to facilitate boat access to the bay during the annual salmon run. Dredging the river and deposition of spoils on the shore causes negative environmental impacts. The NPS is considering a range of alternatives to current management of the mouth of the Platte River to address these impacts while maintaining public access to Platte Bay. The NPS encouraged the public to comment on several preliminary alternatives between October 1 and November 15, 2015. Background information and a summary and analysis of public comments has been posted on the NPS planning website at parkplanning.nps.gov/platte.
A total of 64 pieces of correspondences were received. The most frequent substantive comments addressed alternative lake access locations, the National Lakeshore’s enabling legislation and authority, impacts on threatened and endangered bird species, continued dredging during the planning process, boater safety concerns, and visitor use conflicts. There was strong support for boat access, riverbank restoration, new facilities, and ceasing dredging, but there was also notable opposition to new facilities and support for continuing dredging. The comments submitted during this planning period will be considered during the development of the EA. The EA is scheduled to be made available for public review and comment in fall 2016.
In the interim, the National Lakeshore has submitted a permit application for continued dredging of the river. In order to facilitate safe and reliable access to Platte Bay for salmon anglers, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is prepared to resume dredging operations under that permit this fall. The mouth of the river will be monitored and dredged as necessary after Labor Day through September during the annual coho salmon run. Lake Michigan is near all-time high levels and this alone will greatly improve navigation through the channel. However, if navigation is impeded by sand buildup after storms or wave action, the mouth may be dredged.
For more information, please contact Kevin Skerl, Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore Chief of Natural Resources, at 231-326-4750, or visit their website at www.nps.gov/slbe/. You may also contact Scott Heintzelman, Michigan Department of Natural Resources Central Lake Michigan Management Unit Manager, Cadillac Customer Service Center, at231-775-9727, ext. 6070.