Natural Resource Damage Assessment
Saginaw Bay and River
The NRDAR settlement and pending restorations
will restore cleaner, healthier fish and water in Saginaw Bay through the removal of PCBs from the Saginaw River.
Photo by USFWS
Beginning in the 1940s, industrial
facilities and wastewater treatment plants on the Saginaw River, Michigan,
released PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and related compounds into the
Saginaw River. Because of on-site contamination, releases from the facilities
continued after PCBs were banned in the 1970s. These releases also
damaged the Saginaw Bay ecosystem.
Saginaw Bay is
one of the prime walleye fishing and waterfowl hunting areas in the Great
Lakes and also drains into Lake Huron. Contamination
has impacted fish and wildlife in the Saginaw River and Bay,
resulting in advisories against human consumption of fish for all species
of fish in the River and many species of fish in the Bay. Also, bald eagle
reproduction is significantly lower in these areas than is found in less
A co-trustee group consisting of
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the State of Michigan, and the Saginaw
Chippewa Tribe, performed a Natural
Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA). The co-trustee group reached a negotiated
settlement for natural resource damages in 1998 with General Motors Corporation
and the cities of Bay City and Saginaw. The settlement is providing for
substantial cleanup of river contamination and for protection and restoration
of fish and wildlife habitats in the Saginaw River and Bay.
The Consent Judgment details the projects and elements of the settlement which are summarized in the table below.
|Projects and Elements
of the Settlement and Restoration
of 342,433 cubic yards of the most contaminated areas of the river
curtains, water quality monitoring, and gasketted clamshell dredge
completed July 22, 2001
Habitat protection and restoration
1,670 acres acquired and in public ownership
most of Big and Little Charity Islands
acres of coastal wetlands and lakeplain prairie restored in 2001-2002
Green Point Environmental Learning
rent-free 99-year leases provided to USFWS
interpretive center building and 80 acres of riparian and upland habitat
for additional restoration to be provided in 2003
by Shiawassee National
of water flow between Saginaw Bay and the marsh in 2004
on restoration of water fluctuations beneficial to northern pike and
yellow perch spawning
City State Recreation Area
areas with boat launches, nature-viewing opportunities, interpretive
M. Golson Jr. Boat Launch and Nature Park opened on July 30, 2002.
City will operate and maintain two of the areas and MDNR will own and
operate the third
to be provided to Trustee Council starting in July of 2004
on monitoring recovery and implementing additional restoration projects
were reimbursed for $2,000,000 of their assessment costs
The settlement and pending restorations
are expected to result in a cleaner and healthier ecosystem for natural
resources and people through the removal of PCBs from the Saginaw River.
This means fewer PCBs in fish, wildlife and people who eat fish. Meanwhile,
fish and wildlife benefit from additional habitat which is being restored
and protected. Another benefit of the settlement will be the enhanced recreational
opportunities and improved economic possibilities for the area as the stigma
of contamination is replaced with the knowledge that the watershed is a
cleaner and safer place with rich natural resources for use by the American
The links below will allow
you to view the Trustees' reports concerning the Saginaw River and Bay
Natural Resource Damage Assessment.
Most reports are PDF files.
Final Restoration and Environmental Assessment for the Green Point Area Restoration Project Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge
Draft Restoration and Environmental Assessment for the Green Point Area Restoration Project Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge
Assessment and 90% Plan for Tobico Marsh, released November 5, 2004.
A Post-Sediment Removal Caged Fish
Study of the Saginaw River Watershed, June 18 - July 16, 2002, Michigan
Department of Environmental Quality, Report MI/DEQ/WB-04-077
A Sediment Sampling Survey of
the Saginaw River, Bay County, Michigan, September 2-3, 2003 , Michigan
Department of Environmental Quality, Report MI/DEQ/WD-04-001
Assessment (EA) for the Edward M. Golson Boat Launch and Nature Park.
Comments on a draft EA were accepted through November 30, 2001. The Service
reviewed the comments, made a Finding of No Significant Impact, and completed
the final EA on December 20, 2001.
Fact Sheet for the Saginaw River and
Bay NRDA, March 1999 (193k pdf format)
Federal Register Notice of Consent Judgment (21k
U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service Links
NRDA and sturgeon
bald eagle research
Region 3 NRDA
3 Contaminants Program Homepage
Fish and Wildlife Service's NRDA Restoration Program
For more information on NRDA in general, visit: Department of Interior's NRDA Homepage
Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network
of Success in the Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay, a report from
"The Partnership for the Saginaw Bay" on the environmental progress and
actions still needed for the watershed.
If you have any questions
or comments related to the Saginaw River and Bay NRDA, contact us via
email or telephone:
Lisa Williams, U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service, East
Lansing Field Office, 517-351-8324
Annette Trowbridge, U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 3 NRDA Coordinator, 612-713-5104
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