Michigan Recreational Harbors Receive
No Dredging Funds in 2007
By Dale Fitch
The US Army
Corps of Engineers recently announced that Manistee, Pentwater and Arcadia
harbors will not be dredged during 2007 due to budgetary constraints. None
of Michigan's recreational harbors will receive funding for dredging in
2007. Ludington and Manistee harbors serve commercial shipping and have been
on a three year rotation for dredging. Ludington's harbor dredging was begun
in 2006 and will be completed this year to a project depth of 27.5 feet.
Manistee's harbor, while it may be treacherous for commercial traffic,
should be safe for recreational boaters.
The smaller harbors of Arcadia and Pentwater rely heavily upon tourism, and
the inability of pleasure craft to safely enter these harbors will pose a
significant economic loss to these communities. These harbors have been
dredged on an annual basis in the past and normally shoal to the extent that
boaters have to carefully navigate the channel prior to dredging and entry
during times of large waves is very dangerous. This is the situation that
will face recreational boaters in 2007 unless a solution to the dredging is
In addition to the problems faced trying to get into these harbors, the loss
of these harbors of refuge will pose additional problems during storms or
severe weather. The distance between commercial harbors of Muskegon and
Ludington is approximately 60 miles. The distance from Manistee to
Frankfort, the next commercial harbor to the north is approximately 27
miles, so that is not a major concern. These distances ignore the
recreational harbors of Onekama, 8 miles north of Manistee and White Lake,
which is approximately 9 miles north of Muskegon. These harbors, like
Pentwater, are recreational harbors and because of shoaling may be
The communities involved are devastated by the economic repercussions of
this funding decision. Michigan Sea Grant has scheduled public meetings to
discuss options available for alternative funding programs. Interested
persons should also write to their federal and state legislators concerning
the dredging issue. We will continue to monitor this situation and report
developments as they occur.
In the meantime, prudent boaters should carefully navigate these harbors.
The most current charts will not reflect the current depths of these
harbors. Local marinas will be an excellent source of information regarding
the depths and routes to navigate. Above all, vessels navigating these
harbors should do so at slow speeds and entry should not be attempted during
times of high seas.
Capt. Dale Fitch can be reached at dale@LetsGoSail.net.
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