Posted on March 8, 2023
The Saugatuck harbor and adjoining Kalamazoo River will be cleared for boaters to safely use this summer thanks to roughly $900,000 in federal funds to dredge the waters.
Federal funding for the dredging was outlined last week, on Feb. 28, in the Army Corps of Engineers operations and maintenance work plan. The dredging will take place before the summer.
Saugatuck Township Manager Daniel DeFranco said unusually heavy soil deposits were found in the Kalamazoo River mouth that would’ve posed a “serious safety hazard” for boats traveling to the harbor if not dredged. Once his office was alerted of the issue, DeFranco said, they sounded “the alarm bells.”
“Losing direct access to Lake Michigan would have been devastating for the Saugatuck and Douglas seasonal economy,” DeFranco said. “Through the cooperative efforts (of) our local communities and fast response from our federal representatives, summer 2023 will be saved here in Saugatuck and Douglas.”
U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, who helped secure the funds, called harbors and rivers major sources of economic activity for the state’s lakeshore communities.
“I am happy to share that the communities of Saugatuck and Douglas will have the resources needed to dredge the harbor and portions of the Kalamazoo River,” Huizenga said.
“This will help the summer tourism season reach its full potential while also strengthening the local small business economy for residents and visitors to enjoy! I want to thank the Corps for continuing their productive relationship to ensure priorities along the Great Lakes are met.”
Saugatuck City Manager Ryan Heise thanked Huizenga and the Army Corps for their timely work.
“The Saugatuck harbor area is one of the premier boating areas in the Great Lakes and we’re grateful for the quick action taken by Congressman Huizenga’s office with the Army Corps of Engineers,” Heise said. “Today’s news also demonstrates the strong and growing cooperation within the tri-community area of Saugatuck, Saugatuck Township, and Douglas, along with our partners in Allegan County.”
Among the other lakeshore communities that were allocated funds for dredging and other work, Grand Haven’s harbor was allocated $3.99 million and Holland’s harbor $1.31 million.