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Conserving the Nature
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.
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Natural Resource Damage Assessment
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 Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy 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.
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 Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, 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 was returned to its historical channel at the Plainwell Dam site in 2009. 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 completed in the former Plainwell Impoundment of the river. Cleaned banks were revegetated with native grasses, shrubs and trees. The Trustees used bankruptcy settlement funds and additional funding from the State of Michigan to restore a section of Portage Creek in 2018. For more information on this and other restoration projects, please visit the Restoration Projects section of this website.
On December 11, 2019, the Trustees, U.S. EPA, and the Department of Justice announced a settlement with NCR Corporation that will result in significant additional cleanup work in and along the river and $25 million for additional restoration projects. For more information on this the settlement, please visit the Settlements section of this website. The Trustees are asking the public to submit ideas for additional projects in the Kalamazoo River watershed that will benefit injured natural resources and help compensate the public for associated lost recreational opportunities. For more information on submitting project ideas, please visit the Restoration Plans section of this website.
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:
John Riley, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, 517-284-5045
Julie Sims, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,734-741-2385
Georgia Parham, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 3 External Affairs, 812-334-4261 ext. 203
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Links
For more information on the Superfund cleanup process at this site, visit EPA's website on the Kalamazoo Project
For more information on NRDA, in general, visit Department of Interior's NRDA Homepage
Kalamazoo River as a Great Lakes Area of Concern, U.S. EPA's website on the AOC and RAP process