Tittabawassee River Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Overview
On July 27, 2020, a settlement with the Dow Chemical Company to address federal, state, and tribal claims for natural resource damages in the Tittabawassee River System was finalized. The settlement is for an estimated $77 million in projects and funding that will restore fish, wildlife, and habitats injured following releases of hazardous substances in past decades from Dow’s manufacturing facility in Midland, Michigan. Under the settlement, Dow will implement or fund a number of restoration projects identified in Midland, Bay, Saginaw, and nearby counties. The natural resource Trustees evaluated a range of restoration actions and alternatives which would provide benefits to natural resources to compensate the public for losses to natural resources injured by releases from Dow's Midland plant and published the Final Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment for the Tittabawassee River System.
Saginaw Riverfront Park Restoration
As part of the settlement, Dow is providing $1 million for sustainable redevelopment of the future Saginaw Riverfront Park on 334 acres that the State of Michigan acquired from RACER Trust at the site of the former General Motors Saginaw Malleable Iron Plant and Greenpoint Landfill, along the Saginaw River in the City of Saginaw. For this project, MDNR has partnered with Saginaw County Parks and Recreation Commission to operate the park in order to provide passive recreation opportunities to people right within the City of Saginaw. Planned recreation opportunities include hiking trails, biking trails, wildlife viewing, and catch and release fishing.
At a dedication ceremony on September 25, 2020, the Saginaw County Parks and Recreation Commission, along with other partners, announced the new official name for the park: Saginaw River Headwaters Rec Area. The term “Rec” was used deliberately to reflect both the reclamation of this former industrial area as an area where nature can thrive and the recreation opportunities that are planned to help connect people with nature at this edge of the City of Saginaw.
The funding proposed as a part of this NRDA settlement is expected to accomplish the following:
- Provide for a portion of costs associated with installation of trails, boardwalks, bridges, and wildlife viewing and fishing platforms;
- Provide for additional, appropriate habitat restoration work at the facility. This may include prairie, wetland or forest stand improvement or enhancement; and,
- Provide up to $750,000 to endow the property with a portion of the funding for long-term operations and maintenance costs for use by the owner or operator of the park, for the purpose of maintaining public recreational opportunities at a site with legacy contamination.
The Trustees, especially through MDNR, are working with the Saginaw County Parks and Recreation Commission to implement the funded portions of this project, beginning with work on controllingof plants that will begin in the fall of 2020. Saginaw County Parks and Recreation Commission is managing this park as part of its park system.