Public meeting Tuesday on Buffalo Reef dredging

LAKE LINDEN – A cooperative multi-entity task force created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will host a public meeting Tuesday in Houghton County, kicking off long-term efforts to save the important Buffalo Reef lake trout and whitefish spawning areas from being covered with shifting stamp sands.

The meeting will be 6 to 8 p.m. Eastern time at the Lake Linden-Hubbell High School Auditorium, 601 Calumet St. in Lake Linden.

“The stamp sands were created in the early 1900s as a byproduct of copper processing at the Wolverine and Mohawk stamp mills in the community of Gay,” said John Pepin, Michigan Department of Natural Resources deputy public information officer. “Since that time, these coarse, black sands, which were dumped into Lake Superior, have drifted south and are now threatening to smother Buffalo Reef and natural beaches south of the Grand Traverse Harbor.”

The DNR has applied for a permit from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, under the Great Lakes Submerged Lands Act, to allow the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to remove more than 200,000 cubic yards of stamp sands from Lake Superior.

The EPA has provided $3.1 million to the Army Corps to design and carry out the dredging work, scheduled for May 2018.

The stamp sands source pile at Gay originally was estimated to contain 22 million cubic yards of material, with 2.3 million cubic yards of material remaining today.