LAKE LINDEN, Mich. (WJMN) – In a release from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), a public meeting has been set for Tuesday, July 12 at 6 p.m. in the Lake Linden-Hubble High School auditorium regarding a plan to dispose of stamp sands mining waste.

According to the DNR, the plan has taken three years to develop. It said the stamp sands mining waste threatens the lake trout spawning habitat of Buffalo Reef off the the coast of Gay, Michigan in Keweenaw County.

Representatives from the Buffalo Reef Task Force will present the preferred plan which was selected from an initial list of 13 strategies.

“Though our plan has been selected, we still need to identify a nonfederal sponsor and funding source(s) before we can move ahead with implementing our strategy,” said Jay Parent, district supervisor for the Michigan Department of Great Lakes, Environment, and Energy’s Upper Peninsula District Office in Marquette. “The scope of our plan may also change as the project matures.”

According to the DNR, over the past 100 years, leftovers from copper mining called stamp stands at the Wolvering and Mohawk mines were deposited at the community of Gay. Wind and waves are believed to have moved the mining material roughly five miles down the shoreline, affecting natural sand beaches and threatening the habitat and recruitment areas used by Lake Superior whitefish and lake trout in and around Buffalo Reef.

The Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission determined that Buffalo Reef, which is situated off the Keweenaw Peninsula’s Grand Traverse Harbor, contributes approximately 30% of the lake trout harvested within 50 miles of the reef.

The three finalist action plans include:

  • Building a retaining wall to contain the stamp sands at the original pile, as well as the stamp sands dredged from the lake and beach.
  • Building a landfill in an upland area near the community of Gay for the stamp sands removed from the lake and beach.
  • Placement of stamp sands removed from the lake and beach in the tailing basins at the former White Pine Mine in Ontonagon County.

Reed the alternatives analysis which briefly described 13 potential strategies for managing the stamp sands, which was released in 2019.

After a period of public comment and consideration, a responsiveness summary was issued. From there, the list of 13 alternatives was narrowed down to three.

According to the DNR, the project to save the 2,200-acre reef – which is being funded through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and a combination of state and tribal funds – is being executed in cooperation between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Bay Indian Community, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

For more information on the ongoing Buffalo Reef effort