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DNR rejects proposal to dredge Grand River for powerboating

Rachel Kramer/Wikimedia Commons
CC by 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en
The proposed project would have opened up powerboating from Lake Michigan to downtown Grand Rapids at Fulton Street.

The state has rejected a proposal to dredge 22.5 miles of the Grand River in West Michigan to open it up to power boating.

The proposal came from a group led by West Michigan developer Dan Hibma.

The group, called Grand River Waterway, commissioned an economic impact study that found the project could add $5.7 million per year to the region’s economy.

It would have made a power-boating route available from downtown Grand Rapids to Lake Michigan.

"The risks to the economy and environment are too great," says a DNR spokesperson, in a statement

But a number of communities along the river didn’t support the idea. And now the Michigan Department of Natural Resources says it won’t pursue the project.

“The risks to the economy and environment are too great,” said DNR spokesman Ed Golden, in a statement emailed to Michigan Radio. “Dredging such a significant portion of the Grand River would disrupt fish habitat, natural vegetation and the general health of the river. These natural resources are too important to all West Michigan residents and visitors to allow the project to move forward.”

Grand River Waterway says it will put its advocacy of the project on hold for now.

“We are not abandoning the project forever,” said Hibma, in a release posted to the group’s website, “but it is clear that we need to enter a phase of working with community stakeholders to correct misinformation and receive feedback."

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Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Public’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Public since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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