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Army Corps of Engineers wants public comment on potential Grand River changes

List of things to consider when creating plans for Grand River restoration projects
Bryce Huffman
List of things to consider when creating plans for Grand River restoration projects

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is seeking public input on potential changes to the Grand River landscape near downtown Grand Rapids.

While the Army Corps has not made any plans yet, changes to the river that have been discussed over the past few years include removing the 6th Street dam, increasing the walking area on the riverfront and adding more fish passages.

Removing the dam, however, could lead to an increase in invasive species like sea lamprey, which could be bad for fish populations.

Marc Gaden, with the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, says the dam is an effective barrier for the lamprey.

“It keeps the lamprey from migrating into thousands of miles of not just the Grand River, but its many many smaller tributaries,” Gaden says.

Gaden says providing an alternative barrier for the lamprey before removing the dam is important to the health of the Grand River.

Tom Werkman, a fishing guide who primarily works on the Grand River, says removing the dam wouldn’t be all bad though.

“Anytime you can take out a dam, it will improve the fishery and that only benefits all those that access the river for fishing,” Werkman says.

Other issues that have been raised include protecting fish species like mussels during dam construction or removal, protecting the public against floods and the overall safety of using the river for recreational purposes.

The Army Corps of Engineers is accepting public comment on ideas for the river until May 15th.

Bryce Huffman was Michigan Radio’s West Michigan Reporter and host of Same Same Different. He is currently a reporter for Bridge Detroit.
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