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St. Joseph River dredging permit still not approved

Posted on April 22, 2024

Berrien County leaders are still waiting on a permit to dredge the St. Joseph River this year.

Berrien County Community Development Director Dan Fette has been working with the city of St. Joseph, St. Joseph Township, and the city of Benton Harbor to collect funding for the permit application to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

Fette has told county commissioners there’s a short window during which the river can be dredged due to the sturgeon spawning season in May.

However, Berrien County Administrator Brian Dissette told us Wednesday the permit is still not in place and no mechanism for paying for the actual dredging has yet been identified. Fette’s thought was that local marinas and slip owners could cover the cost, but Dissette says many details won’t be known until that permit is approved. He added the scope of the problem also won’t be known until then.

The areas of concern are near the Tackle Haven docks and around the island, where the observed depth is too shallow to allow for boats to pass.

If the dredging effort drags into May, then the county could apply for a waiver that would still allow the dredging to occur, despite the normal restrictions.


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