Natural Resource Damage Assessment
Final Restoration Plan and Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement
The Kalamazoo River natural resource trustees have completed a restoration plan that describes potential projects and types of projects that could contribute to restoring natural resources along the Kalamazoo River in Michigan as funding becomes available. The Restoration Plan and Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (RP/PEIS) analyzes a suite of actions believed to most effectively compensate the public for losses to natural resources caused by the PCBs released from paper mills from late 1950s through the early 1970s.
This plan identifies project types the trustees are interested in implementing and two specific restoration projects in which the trustees may be involved: the removal of the Otsego City Dam and the removal of the Otsego Dam. It provides criteria and guidance for prioritizing and designing future restoration activities to be carried out by the trustees or conducted under their oversight.
This plan was previously released as a draft document for public comment in September and October of 2015, as described in a Federal Register Notice. The comments received and the Trustees' responses to them are described in Appendix D of the final RP/PEIS.
Industrial activities on the Kalamazoo River and Portage Creek released polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) to those waterways and the surrounding environment. As a result, the U.S. EPA designated areas downstream of the releases of PCBs as the Allied Paper, Inc./Portage Creek/Kalamazoo River Superfund Site.
The U.S. EPA and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality are working to clean up the contaminants in the river system and/or or halt the risk from them in some way. For the current status of the cleanup process, visit EPA's Kalamazoo Project website or MDEQ's website on the Allied Paper, Inc./Portage Creek/Kalamazoo River Superfund Site.
Meanwhile, the Trustees for natural resources are conducting a Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA). In the NRDA, the Trustees will determine the amount of restoration needed both to return the Kalamazoo River Environment to what it would have been like if the contaminants had not been released and to compensate the public for the loss of use and enjoyment of their natural resources resulting from the contaminants. In order to determine the amount of restoration and compensation required, the Trustees first evaluate the amounts and types of injuries to natural resources that result from the contaminants in the environment. Injuries include things like poor reproduction in bald eagles and mink and fish consumption advisories for anglers in the area.
The Trustee agencies for this NRDA are the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (added by Governor Granholm on September 29, 2004), the Michigan Department of the Attorney General, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
We are making progress toward restoration of the Kalamazoo River! The River has begun returning to its historical channel at the Plainwell Dam site! The Service and our co-trustees negotiated with the paper companies and U.S. EPA to combine dam removal and river restoration with the PCB removal action that is underway in the former Plainwell Impoundment of the river. This photo shows the removal of the first stop log from the temporary water control structure that will allow a controlled drawdown into the remediated historical channel. The lowered water level will also make the rest of the PCB removal process easier. Cleaned banks are being revegetated with native grasses, shrubs and trees by JFNew and we expect fairly rapid colonization of the benthic communities from upstream gravel beds and riffle areas.
The links below go to the Trustees' reports concerning the Kalamazoo River Environment Natural Resource Damage Assessment.
Kalamazoo River Remedial and Restoration Objectives, Letter to James Saric, U.S. EPA, dated February 27, 2015 (4-page PDF ; February 2015)
Final Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment, Portage Creek and Operable Unit 1 (111-page PDF ; August 2013)
Plainwell Dam Removal on the Kalamazoo River: Removing More Than Physical Barriers to Restoration presentation made at Areas of Concern Conference, October, 2011 (17-page ; October 12, 2011)
Stage 1 Assessment Report for Kalamazoo River Environment: Recreational Fishing Study Update, July 16, 2009 (192K PDF ; July 16, 2009)
Draft Stage 1 Assessment Plan for Kalamazoo River Environment Site (642k PDF ; November 2000) We accepted public comments on this draft plan through January 16, 2001.
Preassessment Screen and Determination (600k PDF ; May 30, 2000)
Evaluation of Mussel Survival from the Former Plainwell Impoundment Translocation (PDF ; October 8, 2010)
Translocation of Freshwater Mussels from the Former Plainwell Impoundment (PDF ; March 19, 2010)
Freshwater Mussels of the Kalamazoo River, Michigan, from Battle Creek to Saugatuck (328k PDF ; Oct. 1, 2001) by Renee Sherman Mulcrone and Charles Mehne, DVM
If you have any questions concerning information found in any of these reports or any other comments related to the Kalamazoo River Environment NRDA, contact us via email or telephone:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Links