Task force releases draft alternatives analysis

Public can comment until March 8

GAY — The Buffalo Reef Task Force has released a Draft Preliminary Alternatives Analysis for protecting important reef fish spawning habitat from copper mine tailings — stamp sands — dumped into Lake Superior at Gay 100 years ago.

Shifts in the stamp sands deposit over the years are threatening to bury Buffalo Reef, destroying the spawning habitat and recruitment areas important to Lake Superior whitefish and lake trout.

The natural reef is located off the east side of the Keweenaw Peninsula. The stamp sands from the Mohawk and Wolverine mines are deposited along the shore from the community of Gay south through portions of Keweenaw and Houghton counties.

The draft report briefly describes 13 alternative strategies for managing the migrating stamp sands. The task force is soliciting public comment whether there are additional management strategies the Buffalo Reef Task Force should consider, and any adjustments to the management strategies or risks described in the report.

The task force will be accepting comments on the Draft Preliminary Alternatives Analysis until March 8.

These comments will be incorporated into the draft, along with preliminary cost estimates for each alternative. A Draft Alternatives Analysis will then be released with this additional information incorporated in May. This report will be used to select the top two to four alternatives for further, detailed analysis.

The task force will hold a public meeting on the selection process in Lake Linden this summer. Detailed analysis of the top two to four alternatives will start in the fall.

Meanwhile, dredging of the Grand Traverse Harbor and the “trough” area, situated north of Buffalo Reef will begin in the spring.

Comments may on the Draft Preliminary Alternatives Analysis may be sent to Steven Check, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, via email at: Steven.G.Check@usace.army.mil or U.S. mail at: 477 Michigan Ave., Detroit, Michigan 48226-2550.