Article: Drone survey plays award-winning role in $8M restoration of toxic Muskegon River site (MLive)

A polluted former celery farm separated from the Muskegon River by a man-made earthen dike will be cleaned up and reconnected to the waterway, restoring it to fish passage and habitat for a variety of native wildlife.
Muskegon River drone mapping.jpg

Construction on the $8 million project located about a half-mile upstream from Muskegon Lake will start next year after the completion of a design based on an award-winning mapping project. The work brings an area roughly 2,600 feet in length along the Muskegon River, and 53 acres of wetlands, back into harmony and performing as it did prior to being developed.

“It will hydrologically reconnect the Muskegon River to the restored floodplain wetlands,” said Kathy Evans, a program manager for the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission, which is leading the project. “What the dike did was effectively eliminate the shallow water habitat. The interface between water and land was hardened.

“The wetlands lost a lot of its functionality so we’re trying to replace that. It will make a difference because it’s a significant size geographically.”

The bog on the north side of the river near M-120/Holton Road has been walled off by three dikes of broken concrete, soil and tree stumps, and also polluted by oil seepage and high sulfate emissions from a refinery and power plant nearby. It’s one of several sites that has been targeted for restoration since the federal government declared Muskegon Lake a Great Lakes Area of Concern in 1985.

The lake could be de-listed by the end of the decade.

Read the full article on MLive.