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USACE Detroit District Identifies Little Lake Harbor Needing Dredging

Posted on June 8, 2023

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District identifies Little Lake Harbor, located near Newberry, Michigan, as a critical need for dredging due to significant shoaling and shoreline flooding.

“Little Lake Harbor is a shallow draft harbor that serves as an important Harbor of Refuge and supports Tribal fishing,” LeighAnn Ryckeghem, Sault Sainte Marie Project Office, Operations Manager said. “Due to severe shoaling, the harbor has not been functional in some time. The Corps of Engineers issued a Notice to Navigation Interests in August of 2021 to use extreme caution when attempting use.”

The harbor conditions are surveyed annually and the harbor requires annual maintenance dredging. The harbor was last dredged in 2018 with approximately 53,000 cubic yards of material removed. The Detroit District has identified the funding need for both maintenance dredging and structure maintenance at Little Lake Harbor since 2020. However, needs for maintenance of navigation projects throughout the country outpace available funds.

Outflow from Little Lake is currently blocked by an accumulation of material in the federal channel. This is being assessed and likely a contributing factor of the recent shoreline flooding.

“We were notified of the shoreline flooding on May 22 and we had a survey crew from the Sault Sainte Marie Project Office onsite to survey and inspect the harbor on May 24. The survey confirmed severe shoaling conditions have impeded outflow from the harbor to Lake Superior,” Ryckeghem said. “The Detroit District has identified the harbor as a critical need for dredging and structure repairs.”

“We understand the urgency of the situation,” said Detroit District Chief of Operations, Marie Strum. “We were able to reprogram a small amount of funds on June 6 that allowed our team to get out there on June 7 to open up the outflow blockage and relieve the water level buildup. We have requested emergency funding to follow up with a dredging contract to clear accumulated sediment from a larger portion of the federal navigation channel, which would allow safe navigation into and out of the harbor.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, maintains a navigation system including 81 harbors and channels joining lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, St. Clair and Erie.
The Detroit District provides vital public engineering services in peace and war to secure our Nation, protect the environment, energize our economy, and reduce risks from natural disasters.

For more details, contact Detroit District Acting Public Affairs Chief Carrie Fox, 906-259-2841.


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