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The new channel takes shape as restoration work continues on Portage Creek. Photo courtesy of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

The new channel takes shape as restoration work continues on Portage Creek. Photo courtesy of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Removal of Alcott Street Dam benefits Michigan’s Portage Creek

As part of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment for the Superfund site along the Kalamazoo River in Kalamazoo, Michigan, trustees are working to remove the Alcott Street Dam and restore about 3,000 feet of Portage Creek.

Removal of the 90-year-old dam is underway and is expected to be complete later this year. Trustees plan to remove the dam along with the associated infrastructure so that they can create a natural creek bed with a rocky riffle. Additional riffles will be installed along the creek to lessen the steep drop in elevation at the dam. About 50,000 cubic yards of material will be removed to help shape the new channel, provide a clean creek bottom and banks, and increase floodplain capacity in the area. Native vegetation will be planted along the banks and in the floodplain.

Once complete, the project will allow fish to move back and forth though this section of Portage Creek. Trustees also expect to see an increase in the number of fish species, more abundant and diverse invertebrate populations, better habitat for prey species and reduced flooding downstream.

Industrial activities on the Kalamazoo River and Portage Creek, including manufacture of carbonless paper in the 1950s and 1960s, released polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into those waterways and the surrounding environment. As a result, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency designated areas downstream of the releases of PCBs as a Superfund site in 1990. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality are working to clean up the contaminants in the river. Trustees for the area’s natural resources include the Service, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Attorney General and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The trustees selected the project in their final restoration plan. Some of the planning for the project was completed using funds from the Service’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funding.

By Lisa Williams
Michigan Ecological Services Field Office
 

Last updated: June 8, 2020