Thursday, February 25, 2010

Grand Marais Bay

There is a public comment period until the end of the month regarding building a breakwater to protect the Grand Marais Bay. Although I am in favor of building a breakwater, I am concerned that the Army Corps of Engineers is recommending the cheap way out. They are suggesting that the angle of the breakwater be changed from the original that was built in the late 1800s, to a 55 degree angle slanted toward town. It is important for bays to have rivers that flow into them to "flush" them out. Originally, the Grand Marais Bay had several creeks that flowed into it. First Creek was diverted in the late 1800s. Once the original breakwater was built, the Sucker River was responsible for carrying out the majority of the flushing responsibility. The 55 degree angle breakwater would be built west of the Sucker River. As a result, the west Grand Marais bay could suffer the same consequence as the East Bay, which is now a land-locked marsh.

If they decide to "cheap it out" and there are unforeseen consequences, then it is not likely that the Army Corps of Engineers will fix the problem. That is exactly what happened with the pier that was re-built and extended in the 1960s. The Army Corps admitted that the re-design of the pier caused the erosion east of town. Many people lost property and homes, and the erosion "killed" East Bay. If they do build the new breakwater and their is unanticipated erosion, who knows what will happen.

I agree that we need a new breakwater. However, I think it is important that it be built at the same angle as the original. Granted, that the erosion requires over 7,000 feet of breakwater to obtain the same angle as the original breakwater that was only 5,000 feet long. But we know that the original angle WORKED FOR OVER 60 YEARS. We don't know what will happen if they change the angle.

The environmental assessments have been completed, and we have until February 28th to submit a final round of comments on this project to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Please submit your letters of support!

The environmental assessment and a printable letter of support are online at: OR

You can e-mail your comments to:

You can mail your own letter to:
U.S. Army Engineer District, Detroit
ATTN: CELRE-PL-E (Les E. Weigum)
P.O. Box 1027
Detroit, MI 48231-1027

Please help us save our Grand Marais harbor but urge them to re-build the breakwater at the original angle.

Here are some photos of the history of the bay.

Recent photos of the harbor.

Harbor in 1964

Harbor in 1939

Harbor in 1903

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