REPUBLIC TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WZMQ) – Republic Township is moving forward with updates to the dam system on the Michigamme River, planning to remove and replace the dam. Since 2016, the Republic River Basin Authority has been working on a concept plan to remove the current Republic Dam on the Michigamme River and install a new fish ladder called a Rock Crib Spillway allowing species to return to spawn.
“The dam is built in 1926, the state wants it removed,” commented Supervisor of Republic Township James Brennan. Brennan comments that due to current water levels, there may be access for small canoes and kayaks to move between basins, but still no access for bigger boats.
“If we don’t have it the river’s very low in the summertime and the basins aren’t backed up so you cannot get a boat, a pontoon boat, or a medium-sized boat underneath 95 bridge and to each different basin,” continued Brennan.
For the project; The Michigan DNR awarded $250,000 from Fisheries Habitat Grants, Michigan’s Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (E.G.L.E.) Dam Safety Unit awarded $750,000 and the Dam Risk Reduction program awarded Republic Township $1.8 million to construct what’s called rock arch rapids.
“It’s a 900-foot rapid with pools set up as a fish come up through these little channels into these pools. They rest and work their way back up the river,” continued Brennan. The Basin Authority reported that the new model they’ve created will also help to avoid flooding damage that’s common in the spring.
“Over time because the rivers are not where the levels are supposed to be, all property values will go down around the river,” continued Brennan.
Through the risk reduction program, 15 other Michigan dams are getting safety upgrades as well. The Republic Basin River Authority hopes this new venture can show the state how valued spillways can be for waterways across Michigan.
Click here, for a full list of recipients of the grants and other awards going towards conservation projects on lakes and streams statewide.