Traverse City Packs Forum to Discuss Future of Boardman River

“If we want a healthy river and a healthy watershed what does that really mean.”

It was a packed house Wednesday night in Traverse City to discuss the future of the Boardman River.

Years of work have gone into restoring the Boardman River to a free flowing, cleaner, more natural river.

And the work’s not done.

It began with removal of the brown bridge dam in 2012.

In 2017 the Boardman Dam and powerhouse were removed. The Sabin Dam came down last year.

Now work is underway to modify the Union Street Dam and add a fish pass.

“Turning on that light switch and having that river start to function again like a river is a remarkable thing.”

A full room wanting to know the future of the Boardman River.

“There’s a lot of work yet to be done on the Boardman River to determine how it should be used how it should be regulated,” Gus Newbury, president of the Brook Trout Coalition said.

Wednesday’s question: how to best regulate and protect the river.

“How to we balance that with protection it’s going to be a tough balance.”

A fish pass will replace the current union street dam. It will be running by 2025.

“It will maintain the water level in the Boardman Lake. And water will be able to flow freely but it will block species of fish that we don’t want,” Newbury said.

The public has concerns about kayaking, fishing and development around the river.

“So we choose an outdoor recreation commercial operation we need to choose an operation that is conscientious to put people on the river in a responsible way,” someone in public comment said.

The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay says every choice counts.

“From a water quality perspective there’s plenty of threats, but it’s the understanding how all these things every decision that is made has an impact on something else,” Christine Crissman, executive director of the watershed said.

They plan to host more forums to continue gathering input from the community.