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Muskegon Lake Watershed Partnership, EPA, and EGLE celebrate BUI removals

Officials from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) today joined representatives from the Muskegon Lake Watershed Partnership (MLWP) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to celebrate reaching the removal of two more beneficial use impairments (BUIs) in the Muskegon Lake Area of Concern (AOC). The removal of these two BUIs marks the halfway point for Michigan in BUI removals. Michigan started with 111 BUIs and now has 54 remaining.


The Heritage Landing restoration site on Muskegon Lake in Muskegon, Mich. after habitat restoration.

The Heritage Landing restoration site on Muskegon Lake in Muskegon, Mich. after habitat restoration. 


Michigan’s Areas of Concern (AOC) program was established with a remedial approach for the restoration of its Great Lakes toxic hot spots or Areas of Concern. Remedial Action Plans were developed to identify the status of environmental problems and related Beneficial Use Impairments in each of Michigan’s 14 AOCs.

The Muskegon Lake AOC had nine Beneficial Use Impairments identified, and two remain. Steady progress has been made with sediment clean ups and habitat restorations to ultimately get Muskegon Lake delisted as an Area of Concern. Noting that restoration targets have been met, the EPA in May approved the removal of the Loss of Fish and Wildlife Habitat and Degradation of Fish and Wildlife Populations Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs) from the Muskegon Lake Area of Concern (AOC) located in Muskegon, Michigan.

“Muskegon Lake AOC has a phenomenal local support system,” said Stephanie Swart, Muskegon Lake AOC coordinator with EGLE. “The work that the Muskegon Lake Watershed Partnership has done to implement restoration work along with their partners is what truly has moved this AOC forward.”

A load of mill debris on a barge from Muskegon Lake.

A load of mill debris from Muskegon Lake on a barge. 


According to Kathy Evans, MLWP Habitat Committee chair, “The work to meet the AOC’s habitat targets has been accomplished and the MLWP is focused on reaching other critical restoration goals, including improvements for habitat connectivity within the estuary between the former Zephyr Oil Tank Farm and the former Consumers Energy B.C. Cobb Power Plant. “When Muskegon Lake was listed as an AOC it had lost a significant amount of habitat due to industry and filling of the lake. Over 30 years later, restoration work has been completed at 17 sites removing 125 acres of fill and creating 84 acres of emergent wetland, as well as projects to soften the shoreline and develop open water wetlands.

In supporting the removal recommendation, the EPA said, “Removal of these BUIs will benefit not only the people who live and work in the AOC, but all the residents of Michigan and the Great Lakes basin as well.”

With two more BUIs to remove in the AOC, the project delisting date for Muskegon Lake is late 2024.

Interested in learning more about Michigan’s AOC program? Check out: