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Reedsburg Dam; DNR will slowly raise the water

Significant maintenance work completed at Reedsburg Dam in Missaukee County; DNR will slowly raise water levels

Visitors to the Reedsburg Dam and flooding this fall will notice the many structural upgrades that have been completed to increase safety and ease of operation. With that work finished, the area again will provide the rich and diverse outdoor recreation experiences that regularly draw anglers, birders, waterfowl hunters, kayakers, campers and other outdoor enthusiasts to this site in Missaukee County, Michigan.The decision to upgrade the Reedsburg Dam stemmed from a broader evaluation of several dams managed by the Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division. A 2016 inspection of the Reedsburg Dam – one of the largest structures on the division’s list – showed the structure to be in fairly good shape, but with some priority actions needing to be addressed. The Wildlife Division has completed the following upgrades:Restoration of the earthen dike adjacent to the dam, including new rip rap (placed stone) and gravel to protect the dike’s pond side edge against wave erosion. Repairs to the structure’s concrete and steel components. Replacement of the stoplogs (the hydraulic engineering elements that control water levels) and the stoplog mechanism. Replacement of the maintenance walkway across the top of the dam. Replacement of the fisherman’s stairway on the far side of the dam down to the water’s edge. Placement of rock rubble directly in front of and behind the dam to protect against erosion from powerful currents moving through the structure. Grading of the dam parking lot and access road, including additional gravel and new barrier posts. New fencing adjacent to the structure to keep visitors safe.

History, maintenance background

The Reedsburg Dam was built on the Muskegon River in 1940 to create wetland habitat for a variety of wildlife species. Primarily focusing on waterfowl and furbearing species, the dam created a flooding that encompasses about 540 acres. Over the years, the DNR conducted regular maintenance to keep the dam in good working order, but – given the dam’s age – thought it prudent to have a comprehensive structural evaluation done. In 2016 a professional engineering firm was contracted to inspect the dam and earthen dike. This study included all aspects of the site, including soil borings, structural conditions, and even a dive team that handled underwater inspections. “Duck hunting, trapping, fishing, bird watching, canoeing, kayaking and camping at the adjacent state forest campground are just some of the activities made possible by the Reedsburg Dam installation and eventual flooding,” said Keith Fisher, a wildlife biologist who works out of the DNR’s Roscommon field office. “Those things now consistently draw people to the area, and we want to ensure the Reedsburg Dam’s structure and integrity will continue to provide safe, quality outdoor recreation experiences for everyone who visits.”

Effect on wildlife, future outdoor recreation

This new walkway provides safer, easier access to the river on the back side of the dam for fishing and other outdoor recreation.

Because water was drawn down for the duration of the project to allow construction activities, sunlight was able to reach the waiting seedbank and grow an unbelievable amount of new vegetation for wildlife habitat and food. Now that the project is complete, the DNR will slowly raise the water level. This process is done slowly, on purpose, to allow all the newly developed wildlife food to be utilized by local animals. Flooding the system too quickly could cover a lot of those plants and seeds with too much water and make it unavailable to hungry wildlife.For more information about the Reedsburg Dam project, contact Keith Fisher at 989-275-5151, ext. 2722031 or Vern Richardson, wildlife manager for the DNR’s Cadillac/Baldwin Unit, 231-775-9727, ext. 6031.

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