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The Boardman Valley Preservation Society

Advocates for the scenic Boardman River as well as our hydroelectric dams, and beautiful ponds. Along with you, we endeavor to preserve and restore their economic, historic, and social value.

Our Mission Is To Do Good


Reasons Not to Remove Dams on the Boardman River; with special reference to Brown Bridge Dam - Bill William C. Scharf, Ph.D.

1) Removal of dams are the first step to allowing non-native Steelhead Trout (Lake Run Rainbow Trout) to swim the entire length of the Boardman and its tributaries (to Kalkaska, and near Kingsley).

A) Steelhead (Rainbows) are the ultimate "Frankenfish." The parent stocks have originated on the West Coast of the U.S., and been bred entirely in hatcheries for decades until they now constitute a GMO (genetically modified organism). This is documented in Halvorsen"s recent book, "An Entirely Synthetic Fish," 2010. Yale University Press. Proponents of dam removal maintain that removal will create a "natural" river. This couldn't be further from the truth. In fact at least two western states are trying to eradicate this species.
B) 1) Lake-run Steelhead PCB concentrations are more than twice the “No effects” limit (Consumer’s Energy FERC document, 2006). Will this have adverse effects on mink, otters, and snapping turtles: deformities, reproductive failure, and sterility? This could cause cascading effects throughout the ecosystem. The Consumers Energy report (2006 p.6) states, “PCBs in fish below barrier dams continue to pose a hazard to sensitive wildlife.”

2) Arsenic and other toxic metals in sediments behind dams should require special toxic landfills or capping of toxins on site (the concept of capped toxics near the river seems to be difficult to comprehend)? The cost of such dredging and availability of landfills to dump the toxic substances appears to be a very expensive proposition.

3) Wildlife species of special concern will be displaced, including, but not limited to: Leopard Frogs (only known population in Boardman Valley), Common Loons, Trumpeter Swans, Bald Eagles, and open water waterfowl will be replaced by fewer riverine waterfowl. Muskrats, mink, otters, and snapping turtles are especially vulnerable to the toxic PCBs, and trans-river beaver dams will likely be removed to allow the fish passage.

Dams Are Needed - Robin Beardsley
We are now in the aftermath of the Boardman River Dam decisions by our county commissioners who rejected public input. Recently, the U.S. Department of Interior spent three days and thousands of taxpayer dollars to poison Boardman River and its tributaries, from Sabin Pond to Boardman Lake, to rid that portion of the river sea lamprey have infested. This procedure is 95 percent effective, meaning the damage is permanent. More fish are destroyed by sea lamprey than all other sources of mortality combined, including natural causes, sports, tribal and commercial harvest. These parasites attach themselves to a healthy fish then suck their fluids until death occurs. If sea lamprey are allowed past Sabin Dam, or worse yet Boardman Dam, it will cost millions every three to four years just to keep the Boardman River watershed free of lamprey. We cannot control their survival to Boardman Lake; it’s too large a body of water to poison effectively. This is not about 26 landowners; this is about the 275 square miles of the Boardman River watershed. There will be no stopping lamprey if a freeflowing river is devised. We need the dams, or install water falls to prevent further migration. Robin Beardsley Member, Boardman River Dams Committee Traverse City

Keep the Dams - Albert de Manigold Williamsburg
It’s about time we get serious about the dams that a few want removed. This is clean, renewable power. I would sure like to find out the true story behind the story of why or who will benefit by removing the power dams. I smell a mouse. Please, everyone who is in favor of keeping the dams and the lakes behind them, let’s hear from you.

Use hydropower instead of biomass - Douglas Burwell
To show how hydroelectric power can help meet the State’s 10% renewable energy requirement for 2015 without biomass, one need only look at the Renewable Energy Plan for Lansing Board of Water and Light, which is a publicly owned utility. They purchase or own hydropower capacity of 11,700 megawatt hours from three dams, which is identical to the best estimate of about 12,000 megawatt hours for the three Boardman River dams. The Moores Park Hydro owned by Lansing, was rehabilitated and brought back into service in March 2008. Other sources of renewable energy for Lansing include landfill energy and a small solar array. I recently performed an analysis of how many trees would be saved if hydropower from the Boardman River dams were to replace the amount of wood chips necessary to produce the same amount of electricity. I came up with about 18,200 tons per year (49.9 tons per day). Using conversion data from the Friends of the Jordan River, this works out to about 425 acres per year (think of it as more than ten 40-acre plots.) This is about two-thirds of a square mile per year. Those figures are either large or small depending on whose back yard it is. What bothers me most is that I try to be a responsible citizen and recycle paper while buying recycled products. With a biomass plant, it is the same as going outside and chopping down a small tree every time I turn on the oven, or burning a branch when I need some light. Ben Franklin would call it being penny wise and pound foolish. I read that during the Great Depression people needed to revert to chopping down trees to heat their houses and cook their meals, but during the great advances of the 20th century who would have guessed we would now be moving backwards to a 19th century dependency on wood for energy? Although I am not crazy about coal, I would much rather deplete our coal reserves than deplete our topsoil that future generations will need. With modern smokestack scrubber technology, coal is just another carbon fuel, except that it does not cause ocean spills nor does it cause money to go to countries that hate us. One source of frustration at board meetings of Traverse City Light and Power is when I hear a board member state that an overwhelming majority of their ratepayers favor renewable energy. Of course they (we) do! But when we are asked that question, I doubt if most of us consider biomass as renewable. The original old growth forest in this area would require hundreds of years to replicate, which will never happen if we keep cutting it down. And the non-renewable nutrients removed from the topsoil are forever lost, unlike the normal decay of dead wood. If biomass were not legally defined as renewable for the purpose of meeting the state renewable energy law, not a single utility would want it.

The price of removal
There are folks bent on having the Boardman River dams removed. How many have a home or a business on the lower river? At springtime, when the snow melts in the South Boardman region, will they be downriver filling sandbags, building dikes and shoveling mud out of low-lying rooms and basements? Some conversation and input from the folks who live on the Red River in South Dakota would be very illuminating and beneficial here. Ken Cope Traverse City

Editorial: Time to look at biomass options
So how do you misplace a $30 million biomass plant? Not misplace like forgetting where you put it, of course, but in a more basic way: How, after months of planning and public hearings, did Traverse City Light & Power say its preferred site for a biomass plant was a place where it apparently can't be built? And why did uility officials give assurances that the site near Cherry Capital Airport was just fine when they apparently didn't know whether it was or not? Spin? Telling people what they wanted to hear? "You couldn't pick a worse location," Hubbard said. Before Light & Power spends one more dime on a new campaign to sell a new biomass site, it must do what should have been done first — take an honest and long look at other power alternatives, starting with the dams on the Boardman River.

In Honor of Earth Day
In honor of earth day my city is going to tear down Three Hydro-Electric facilities and replace them with Bio Mass plants I suggest they build them in the Nature Reserves were the Dams were and and kick off the bio mass grand opening by cutting down all of trees on both sides of the river valley and float them down river to the incinerators thus turning the rest of the nature reserves to moon scape matching what is already devistated by the dam removal. Bruce Carpenter

Animals are dying - Please restore the dams and animal habitat
Spring brings another year to the Grand Traverse County Educational Nature Reserve, marking the third year and another generation of animals decimated through the Boardman Valley. Shorebirds, burrowing mammals and reptilians that don't stand a chance against the ebb-flow of a natural river, while in the past the dams acted to stabilize lake levels at plus or minus two inches; the comparison now is three to five feet. These reserves were dedicated to ensure these endangered and protected species a chance to survive. We are failing them. They are dying and being displaced. Those of us who enter or live within the reserve will witness the suffering and death of these animals and their babies and continual loss of their habitat. Remember this inexcusable act of ignorance forever by thanking your city and county commissioners for their absence of vision and stewardship for all things wild and our nature reserves. Bruce Carpenter

Dams offer clean energy
Traverse City—Without having an engineering background or anything to gain, common sense would dictate that the money to be spent on a biomass plant would be better spent on repairing our dams. Nothing has been mentioned about the traffic that a biomass plant would generate or the cost of maintaining the damage from the trucks that would be required to fuel the plant, which would burden our already overtaxed infrastructure. Dams don't require energy or fuel to run. They provide a clean, renewable source of energy. If properly maintained, dams provide a low-cost energy return and they are already in place without having the expense of construction. If you add the cost of dam removal and the money proposed on a biomass plant, it seems that there is an advantage to repairing and maintaining the dams. We rush ahead toward new technology without looking at what we have or what worked in the past. Like our railroads, which we removed, it's too late and too costly to go back and replace them when they're gone. I am tired of mortgaging my grandchildren's future with spending projects that don't seem to make sense to common folks. Niel Haugen

Repair the dams
I attended the forum at the Hagerty Center put on by Light & Power. The director was not very well prepared for the forum. His statement that the Brown Bridge Dam was built in 1912, 200 years ago, does not hold water because it was built in 1921, 89 years ago. Chairman Linda Johnson stated the Boardman River does not have enough water volume to run a hydroelectric dam. I would like to know what it has been during the past 89 years. At one time the Boardman River had three dams producing electricity, including the Brown Bridge Dam. I believe the old dams should be repaired and add a new dam before Logan's Landing. There also could be paddle wheel generators installed on platforms added to the river. Biomass plants are acid rain producers and not good for our atmosphere. My information is on the Internet. Try dams around the world and paddle wheel generators. LaVern P. Broughton

My name is Norbert Tutlis and I have lived in this area since 1976
Set aside your egos. Bench your agendas. Don’t just politely listen but rather really hear what I say today. What you will be hearing is a sound that started as a murmur and is now becoming a roar. Many mistakes were made in the process of studying what to do with the dams on the Boardman River. What I want you to think about tonight after your work day is over and you are relaxing for the evening is this, How do I feel about my role in destroying the legacy of those who came before me and built these resources I am about to destroy? Read Letter

Report From: Douglas Burwell
To: chrisbzdok@gmail.com ; mgillman@conklinbenham.com ; mmoore@traversecitymi.gov ; b.hooper@pentel.net ; larryinman@charter.net ; bfriend@grandtraverse.org ; mstepka@grandtraverse.org ; rrichard@grandtraverse.org ; cmaxbaue@grandtraverse.org ; lbfleis@aol.com ; sonny@wheelockandsons.com ; mestes@chartermi.net ; deniscrudato@yahoo.com ; jbergman@ci.traverse-city.mi.us ; bbudros2@ci.traverse-city.mi.us ; chris@envlaw.com ; jccarruthers@gmail.com ; rsoffred@ci.traverse-city.mi.us ; bbifoss@traversecitymi.gov ; daloia@grandtraverse.org ; daloia@co.grand-traverse.mi.us

Sent: Monday, April 19, 2010 6:04 PM
Subject: Data for Boardman River Dams

Replacing Biomass Power The Boardman River Dams have a maximum output of between 2.1 - 2.3 megawatts (MW). Using 2.1 MW operating at an average of 67% of capacity yields about 1.4 MW average output (about 1900 continuous horsepower.) This yields 12,264 MW hours per year (this is between the 11,000 MW hour estimate from Ed Rice at Traverse City Light and Power, and the 13,200 MW hour estimate from Consumers Power.) The Friends of the Jordan River Watershed estimates that 13,000 tons of wood chips are required to generate 1 MW for a year (8760 MW hours.) For the dams 1.4 MW average output this equals 18,200 tons of wood chips per year or 49.9 tons per day. Using another Friends of the Jordan R. estimate that 1200 tons of wood chips equates to 28 acres of forest land, this yields, for the above wood consumption, about 425 acres per year ( think of it as more than ten 40 acre plots), or 1.16 acres per day, or 0.66 square miles per year (about 2/3 sq. mile per year.) These figures are either large or small depending on your perspective (or if it involves your favorite forest), but the dams do equate to about 1/3 of TCL&P's requirement for 10% renewable energy by 2015. Although this area is ideal for wind generation, the complexities involved with siting, financing, constructing, transmitting the power, and coordinating its availability with the baseline generation means that wind power is still many years away. It should also be noted that hydroelectric power would be part of the baseline capacity, while wind power is not, because of its unreliable availability. The use of hydroelectric power will still not meet the 10% requirement by 2015, but combined with one state-of-the-art multi-megawatt windmill would satisfy it. Hydropower will meet the interim requirement for 2013 while a windmill is under construction. -- Douglas Burwell



Please support us with a contribution: The Boardman Valley Preservation Society, P.O. Box 11, Grawn, MI 49637