MARQUETTE - Crews discovered more than they bargained for as they worked to excavate land around the Presque Isle bog walk, an area that was fraught with controversy between local birders and the city of Marquette.
The wetland mitigation under way on Presque Isle is part of the city's McClellan Avenue extension project and will restore roughly two acres of wetlands to the area.
Carl Lindquist, executive director of the Superior Watershed Partnership, said the work is being done to help restore the area to what it once was.
A pile of old, rusted metal sits next to one newly excavated site near the bog walk on Presque Isle. Crews worked to clean the area up over several days, pulling tons of waste and fill from the ground. (Journal photo by Jackie Stark)
Pictured are large chunks of concrete crews discovered as excavation work began near the bog walk on Presque Isle. The area was used as a makeshift landfill for years, with tons of construction waste sunk into the ground. (Journal photo by Jackie Stark)
"We're taking everything out that isn't naturally here and restoring the natural wetland that was here before," Lindquist said. "Were we ever surprised at the sheer amount of debris in the site. It shouldn't be here."
Crews found huge chunks of old metal, tons of concrete blocks and plenty of fill that was not native to the area, including old tree stumps and mountains of dirt.
"It'll be great when we have the entire site restored," Lindquist said.
Marquette City Engineer Keith Whittington said the excavation of the area should wrap up next week, with a native plant restoration project set to take place over the summer.
"The planting depends on the type of plants as far as the nursery, when they're ready," Whittington said. "It will be an ongoing situation as the plants come on board to get them in there."
Both Lindquist and Whittington said local birders can rest assured that, once the area is finished, the area will still be a local hotspot for birds.
"It actually enhances the area for the birds. It's going to be brought back to its native wetland state, which, right now, it was just a bunch of fill in there," Whittington said. "We are going to plant new trees along with bushes and so forth to provide more food for the birds. It's not just the birds. We're looking at the whole ecosystem."
The mitigation project is slated to be finished by mid-September at the latest.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.