Saginaw public meeting on tap for Dow-related resource restoration plan

Contact: Georgia Parham, USFWS 812-334-4261, Ext. 203, Georgia_Parham@fws.gov; John Pepin, Michigan DNR 906-226-1352, pepinj@michigan.gov

SAGINAW – Natural resource trustees representing federal, state and tribal governments will hold a public meeting this Thursday in Saginaw to provide information and answer questions about the trustees' joint plan to restore fish, wildlife and habitats in three mid-Michigan counties.

U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider will also attend the meeting on behalf of the public.

Earlier this month, an agreement was announced between the trustees and the Dow Chemical Company to settle an environmental complaint for an estimated $77 million in projects and funding that will restore fish, wildlife, and habitats injured when hazardous substances were released in past decades from Dow’s manufacturing facility in Midland, Michigan.

The agreement is subject to public comment and approval in federal court. The trustees’ restoration plan, which describes how the settlement will be implemented, is also available for public comment.

“Folks attending our upcoming public meeting will learn more details about more than a dozen resource restoration projects that have been developed,” said Lisa Williams, a representative of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with the trustees. “We will also discuss how to propose potential future project ideas.”

The public meeting will be at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21 at the Four Points by Sheraton Saginaw, 4960 Towne Centre Road in Saginaw. (Visit the trustees’ Tittabawassee River Natural Resource Damage Assessment webpage for instructions on submitting comments. Note: The Nov. 21 meeting is being held to provide information and hear from the public in an open house format. It is not a formal hearing to record public comments.)

Under the settlement, Dow will carry out or fund restoration projects identified in Midland, Bay, Saginaw, and nearby counties. These projects include fish spawning and fish passage improvements; restoration of thousands of acres of wetlands and other habitats; creation of multiple public nature areas with nature trails, fishing platforms, and one bike trail segment; protection of a green corridor along the Tittabawassee River; and expansion of boating access at the mouth of the Saginaw River.

Dow will implement many of these restoration projects under the guidance of the natural resource trustees and provide funding for other specific projects that the trustees will work with partners to implement.

The settlement also provides for at least $5 million for additional projects to be solicited from the public, and up to $10 million for long-term stewardship of the restoration projects, monitoring, and trustee costs to implement the settlement.

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs; the State of Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources, Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, and Attorney General’s Office; and the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan are acting together on behalf of the public as the natural resource trustees.

This resource restoration work will begin as separate, ongoing contaminant clean-up efforts continue.

Contaminants released from Dow’s Midland facility over many decades injured fish and wildlife and natural areas in and around the Tittabawassee River, Saginaw River, and Saginaw Bay. The new agreement will address these injuries within Midland, Saginaw, and Bay counties.

For more information on the settlement, how to provide public comment and more, visit the trustees’ Tittabawassee River Natural Resource Damage Assessment webpage.