While the Bush Administration, Great Lakes governors, Congress, and Tribal Nations are uniting forces to develop a comprehensive plan to protect and restore the Great Lakes, Cross Village Township, located on the shores of Lake Michigan in Northern Emmet County, has proposed a plan to fill sensitive coastal wetlands and dredge public trust bottomlands. The purpose of the plan is to expand the existing boat launching facilities at the Township-owned park that contains beach, boat launch, picnic area, and small gravel parking area that blends in with the natural environment and rural character of the community.
The Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring, protecting, and wisely managing water resources, has been following the project since the early 1990s. Although the Watershed Council has a policy of promoting the use and enjoyment of Michigans waters, it is essential that boating and recreation facilities are constructed and managed in a way that protects the resources that make Northern Michigan so spectacular.
Ten years after a proposed expansion of the Township Park was denied a permit by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Township has applied for state and federal permits to create a port and relocate the boat launch, expand parking, dredge public trust bottomlands, erect a sheet pile bulkhead and pier, fill coastal wetlands, and alter the configuration of the beach.
The environmental impacts of the proposed project will be significant. A total of 0.65 acres of wetlands are proposed to be filled. Great Lakes coastal wetlands are integral to the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem and are one of the primary focal points of restoration efforts. Approximately 16,000 cubic yards of Great Lakes bottomlands will be excavated from a 1.55 acre area. On the western side of the project, a proposed pier extends 288 feet waterward of the ordinary high water mark (OHWM) and is approximately 62 feet wide, with a terminus diameter of 100 feet. The proposed eastern pier extends 150 feet waterward of the OHWM and is approximately 75 feet wide. In total, the two structures will occupy a 0.81 acre footprint on public trust bottomlands.