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Trees line the shore of the Kalamazoo River. Credit: Lisa Williams/USFWS
Pars of the Kalamazoo River shoreline. Credit: Lisa Williams/USFWS

14 Projects Approved to Restore Parts of the Kalamazoo River

October 13, 2021

NOAA and the Kalamazoo River natural resource Trustees released a Final Supplemental Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment (PDF, 140 pages). The restoration plan includes a suite of 14 projects to be funded with settlement funds from companies responsible for pollution in the Kalamazoo River waterways.

Final Supplemental Restoration Plan and Projects

Exemplifying strong engagement with communities impacted by pollution in the Kalamazoo River, the suite of 14 projects in the final restoration plan was selected from ideas that were submitted by the public through an online restoration portal in 2020. Detailed descriptions of restoration projects can be found in section 3.1, page 27 of the final restoration plan. They include:

  • Plainwell Dam Area Restoration - Aquatic and riparian habitat restoration

  • Allegan City Dam Removal - Barrier removal

  • Nature Preserve along Kalamazoo River in Allegan - Habitat conservation

  • Plainwell Diversion Dam & Mill Race Dam Removal and Channel Restoration - Aquatic habitat restoration and barrier removal

  • Trowbridge Township Restoration and Access - Riparian habitat restoration

  • Davis-Olmsted Drain Improvements - Aquatic habitat restoration and barrier removal

  • Reed Court Floodplain and Stormwater Improvements - Riparian habitat restoration

  • River Bluff Park Shoreline Restoration - Riparian habitat restoration

  • Commerce Lane Railroad Trestle Removal and Bank Restoration - Aquatic and riparian habitat restoration

  • Mussel Translocation and Riffle Success Evaluation - Aquatic restoration

  • Kalamazoo River Shoreline Frontage and Acreage Acquisition near Calkins Dam - Habitat conservation

  • Manlius Township Land Protection - Habitat conservation

  • Parchment Restoration Plan/Urban Wildlife Corridor - Riparian habitat restoration

  • Koopman Marsh Restoration - Aquatic and riparian habitat restoration

Several of the selected projects are receiving initial funding for feasibility studies or early design phases. The Trustees may allocate additional funding for their implementation in the future.

How Projects Were Selected

Project ideas were evaluated against criteria outlined in the 2016 Final Restoration Plan and Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement.  The Trustees released the draft restoration plan for public comment and input in April 2021. They also held a public meeting to explain the restoration process and the implementation plan, discuss specific proposed projects, and answer questions. No significant changes were made to the plan based on public input.

Next Steps and Background on the Site

These 14 projects will be funded with a portion of $25 million in settlement funds from NCR Corporation and over $2 million in remaining bankruptcy proceeds from Millennium Holdings and Plainwell Paper, Inc. The Natural Resource Trustees will continue to solicit restoration project ideas and propose projects for implementation in the Kalamazoo River watershed until all current and future funds are appropriately expended.

Paper mills conducting carbonless copy paper recycling released PCBs into the soils, sediments, floodplains and surface water in the Kalamazoo River and Portage Creek from the late 1950s through early 1970s. This resulted in injuries to fish, mammals, birds and other natural resources. The state of Michigan continues to issue fish consumption advisories in areas of the site impacted by PCBs. 

The Natural Resource Trustees for the site are NOAA, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Michigan Department of Attorney General, and the U.S. Department of the Interior represented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

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