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Nixed state funding won’t stop Black River efforts, officials say

The mouth of the Black River opens into Lake Huron on Thursday.

Posted on April 29, 2024

Recently nixed state funding won’t stop efforts to improve the mouth of the Black River, organizers said.

State House committee leaders this week rejected proposed state budget amendments that would have added $1.5 million for Black River dredging and the installation of a jetty at the mouth of the river, state Rep. Cam Cavitt, R-Cheboygan, who represents Northeast Michigan, said in a statement.

Dan Gauthier and Steve Bieszki, who live near Black River and serve on an advisory committee working to improve the waterway, said efforts will continue, nonetheless.

“We have a lot of irons in the fire,” Bieszki said. “We’re a little bit early to talk about the progress we’re making with the river because of some of the irons we have in the fire. The solid stuff is just not here, yet.”

Since the early 2000s, sand has built up at the mouth of the Black River, a nearly 15-mile waterway in Alcona County that flows into Lake Huron. Fish can easily pass through, but watercraft such as canoes and larger boats cannot.

Many residents and officials offer different reasons for the stronger currents that create that sand buildup, but there is no clear answer for how it started.

About seven months ago, residents around the river grew tired of the issue and took matters into their own hands, forming the Black River Watershed Advisory Committee.

Since then, members of the group have talked with state representatives like Cavitt, other politicians, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources about ways to solve the issue, which would include constructing jetties, or long, narrow structures that protrude out into the water.

An October 2022 study by GEI Consultants of Michigan found jetties would cost $2 million.

Richard Hill, DNR Parks and Recreation Division Gaylord District supervisor, oversees developments on Black River. He said dredging costs can vary, but an average dredge costs the department $12,000.

On Thursday, DNR officials went out to Black River to plan this year’s dredging as jetty plans continue to develop.

Hill said that the department is looking to get a new permit that would allow officials to dredge up larger portions of the river mouth’s soil.


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