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Natural Resource Damage Assessment
Saginaw River and Bay
November 2, 2021:
Funding available for natural resource restoration
The Saginaw River and Bay Natural Resource Trustee Council, together with the Tittabawassee River Trustee Council, are jointly announcing the availability of funding for restoration projects to be implemented in the Saginaw Bay watershed, including in and along the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers. The two Trustee Councils will provide a total of approximately $5.75 million to fund restoration projects, in addition to projects already described in the restoration plans for the two settlements.
The Trustees are asking people to submit pre-proposals that the Trustee Councils will then screen and evaluate for their merit relative to restoration project criteria. A web-based application portal will be used to collect project ideas from the public and other stakeholders as pre-proposals. Access to the application portal, the restoration plans, and a summary of the criteria to be used to evaluate pre-proposals may be found at the Trustees' Restoration Funding site.
Restoration project pre-proposals must be submitted by Dec. 31, 2021.
May 14, 2021:
Restoration Plan Completed, Implementation Started!
The Natural Resource Trustees for the Saginaw River and Bay finalized their Restoration Plan for the use of funds remaining from the 1998 Settlement in May of 2021. Approximately $5.0 M is being used for implementation of projects described in the Restoration Plan; $750,000 has been set aside to fund restoration project ideas identified by stakeholders in the Saginaw River and Bay area.
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 contaminated areas.
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|
• silt curtains, water quality monitoring, and gasketted clamshell dredge used
Habitat protection and restoration
Green Point Environmental Learning Center
• two rent-free 99-year leases provided to USFWS
• restoration of water flow between Saginaw Bay and the marsh in 2004
• three areas with boat launches, nature-viewing opportunities, interpretive signs
• Edward M. Golson Jr. Boat Launch and Nature Park opened on July 30, 2002.
• $3,000,000 to be provided to Trustee Council starting in July of 2004
• Trustees 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 people.
The links below will allow you to view the Trustees' reports concerning the Saginaw River and Bay Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration.
Most reports are PDF files.
Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy Water Resources Division Staff Report. A Caged Fish Study of the Pine, Tittabawassee, and Saginaw Rivers September 2-October 18, 2017. Michigan Department of Energy, Great Lakes, and the Environment (2020)
Final Environmental 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
Environmental 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 pdf format)
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Links
For more information on NRDA in general, visit: Department of Interior's NRDA Homepage
Measures 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:
Annette Trowbridge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 3 NRDA Coordinator, 612-713-5104