History of Buffalo Reef

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Showcasing story: The century-long journey from Mohawk to Buffalo Reef

Buffalo Reef Timeline

1898 Joseph E. Gay and other founders establish the Mohawk Mining Co.

1900 Mohawkite discovered at Mohawk mine; stamp mill at Gay constructed

1902 November First shipment of rock from the Mohawk Mine to the stamp mill at Gay

1923 Mohawk Mining Co. absorbs the Wolverine Mine

1925 Wolverine Mine closes permanently

1902-1932 Wolverine and/or Mohawk stamp mills operated

1933 Stamp mill scrapped; piled stamp sands have extended the shoreline 1 mile into Lake Superior

1949-1950 Grand Traverse Bay Harbor constructed

1999 Michigan Department of Environmental Quality hires U.S. Army Corps to evaluate Gay and Keweenaw Bay stamp sand deposits

2003 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredges at Grand Traverse Bay Harbor

2006 Michigan Department of Environmental Quality determines stamp sand “not an unacceptable human health threat”

2008 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/Michigan Technological University survey shows 30 percent of Buffalo Reef is covered with stamp sand

2009 First stamp sands found in Grand Traverse Harbor

  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredges at Grand Traverse Bay Harbor

2011 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers uses Great Lakes Fishers and Ecosystem Restoration funding to evaluate retaining wall (revetment) for stamp sand

2014 Stamp sands prevalent in Grand Traverse Harbor

2015 Michigan Department of Natural Resources dredges at Grand Traverse Bay Harbor

2016 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/Michigan Technological University survey shows 35 percent of Buffalo Reef is covered with stamp sand

2017 Grand Traverse Harbor is dredged by Michigan Department of Natural Resources in a $250,000 project; October storm fills it back in

  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency agrees to fund $3.1 million dredging project for 2018, applied for by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources

  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency creates Buffalo Reef Task Force, names steering committee members

2018 January - Public and scientific research meetings held in Lake Linden and Houghton; a broad range of alternatives identified, rough estimate of costs determined and data needs for refining identified

2018 March – Narrow alternatives to best 2 to 4

2018 March-2019 – Refine alternatives; fill data gaps

2018 Dredging of trough area to provide 5 to 7 years of protection for Buffalo Reef, allowing task force to develop long-term plan to solve stamp sand issue

2018 Summer – Public meeting; status update; input from summer residents

2019 March – Select alternative; seek funding to implement

2021 Start construction on stamp sands control mechanism

2026 Long-term protection plan in place