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Sep 01

Pere Marquette River Sediment Spill at Danaher Creek

Pere Marquette River Sediment Spill at Danaher Creek
Many have likely heard of the sediment spill into the Pere Marquette in the “flies only” section at Danaher Creek.  I want to provide you with the most recent information we have.  The following is an edited version of an article posted on M-Live written by John Tunison describing the spill.
“LAKE COUNTY, MI — A dam maintenance project near Baldwin has left a part of the Pere Marquette River dark with sediment, sparking outage on social media after a video showing dead fish was posted. The impact on the river’s health is being debated, even by officials with two separate state agencies.  Department of Natural Resources biologists say they think the river fish will be fine without any long-term impact. At the same time, a Department of Environmental Quality division supervisor said the sediment is still “pollution” that may cause problems for lower-level organisms.
The problems with river sedimentation began late Friday (August 26) and into Saturday as a multiple-day project to lower the water in Danaher Lake continued, finally getting low enough where muck began to go through the dam gates.  Scott Heintzelman, DNR unit manager for central Lake Michigan, said a DNR fisheries biologist, two staff from the Department of Environmental Quality and other authorities were at the dam Saturday to check on the project.  The Rod & Gun Club had a permit for the project and followed the plan to lower the lake as directed, he said. The goal is to lower the water enough to perform long-term work on the dam.”
At a meeting of the Pere Marquette River Restoration Committee on Tuesday, August 30, we received a preliminary report that indicated that a initial DNR shocking survey conducted after the spill had not located any dead or dying fish just downstream of Danaher Creek suggesting that any dead fish had come from Danaher Lake while it was being drawn down. Additional shocking surveys were planned over the next few days.  It was also reported that the river had begun to clear.
This section of the river is in the heart of the “flies only” water and it is expected that the DNR and DEQ will be conducting additional studies and investigations of the incident.