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Cornwall Creek Flooding drawdown to begin Aug. 12

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CHEBOYGAN COUNTY — Cornwall Creek Flooding will be lowered by about 6 feet beginning Monday, Aug. 12, to comply with a state safety order and prepare for dam renovations, with the goal of preserving the impoundment for recreation and wildlife.

Access to the flooding will be affected, and the Shore-to-Shore equestrian trail will be rerouted during the project.

Northern Michigan-based conservation nonprofit Huron Pines is leading the two-phase project to draw down the 161-acre flooding and renovate the dam, which is owned by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fisheries Division. Managed as a non-motorized fishing and recreation area, the flooding attracts anglers, kayakers and horseback riders and lies at the heart of the Pigeon River Country State Forest.

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Built in 1966, the earthen dam impounds Cornwall Creek, a small tributary of the Pigeon River in southern Cheboygan County. A 2019 safety inspection by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), the state agency which regulates dams, rated the dam and its water control infrastructure in poor condition. Past and recent engineering inspections indicate the partial drawdown is necessary to reduce the risk of a potential failure until problems with the dam can be addressed.

Huron Pines typically advocates for the removal of stream barriers including dams and undersized culverts. In its 50-year history, the organization has removed seven dams and led 150 road/stream crossing restoration projects across the northern Lower Peninsula. Josh Leisen is their Senior Project Manager heading this effort to renovate Cornwall Dam instead.

”In most cases we support the removal of man-made barriers from watersheds but we’re mindful of the added benefits of Cornwall Flooding for recreation and wildlife,” Leisen said. “We feel these outweigh the dam’s comparatively low negative impacts on Cornwall Creek and the Pigeon River, and we’re working to preserve the flooding so it can continue to serve its intended purpose as a place for quiet recreation and habitat.”

To learn more, visit huronpines.org.

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