The Peninsular Paper dam in Ypsilanti, MI on the Huron River

With funding from River Network, I traveled around Michigan this summer talking with the river and conservation community about the state of the state’s dams. Our experience with dams on the Huron River is revealing what’s working with the dam program in Michigan, and what’s broken. After talking with our peers also working on dam removal or repair, it’s clear that there’s much to improve if we’re going to protect Michigan’s rivers and citizens from unsafe, unproductive dams.

As the DNRE restructures itself, it’s the perfect time to make the voice of the river and conservation community heard on this critical issue. I’m preparing a summary of the regional meetings that will include a set of recommendations from the river and conservation community for how Michigan can become a leader in river conservation through selective dam removal. The recommendations will be presented to DNRE management and staff.

Ninety-three percent of Michigan’s 2,600 dams will reach or exceed their design life within the next 10 years and only a handful of them have funds for repairs, so there’s much work to do and bold steps must be taken to limit the fiscal, environmental and public safety toll.

I’ll blog here with updates on this initiative.