Listen to interview with Jim Hansen, Michigan Waterways Commission
ESCANABA – Jim Hansen of Escanaba who serves on the state Waterways Commission says the effort to dredge harbors this year in Michigan was a major achievement that was necessary to prevent damage from low water levels on the Great Lakes.
“I think the Upper Peninsula could have survived for the most part but there were a lot of harbors on that western side of the state of Michigan whose economics are tied very, very tightly to the boating industry,” Hansen said. “What we ended up doing was working with the governor’s office, working with the legislature and we came up with a package of about $23 million that grans for local municipalities could use for dredging.”
Hansen said he was surprised at how quickly the issue moved through the state. It became more critical because funds were stalled at the federal level.
Dredging efforts were approved for 51 harbors.
“If folks want to watch an interesting projects I think Menominee will start this week. They will actually be shutting off the harbor entrance, draining it and dredging it from there. I’m looking forward to taking a couple of rides down to watch that project,” Hansen said.
The entrance to Escanaba’s Harbor was also in danger of becoming impassable without dredging this fall, Hansen said.
Hansen was reappointed last week to the state Waterways Commission. He says the biggest issue facing the Great Lakes right now is the possibility of Asian carp moving into lakes.