Michigan’s Muskegon Lake nears recovery after years of restoration work

Photo: Muskegon Lake Watershed Partnership

For decades, Michigan’s Muskegon Lake was considered one of the most degraded areas in the Great Lakes region.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Great Lakes Commission have partnered since 2008 to restore habitat and improve water quality in the area. With a suite of habitat restoration projects now complete, Muskegon Lake could be removed from the list of Great Lakes Areas of Concern as early as this year.

In the late 1800s, Muskegon was home to many different industries, including lumber mills, chemical companies, foundries, a coal-fired power plant, and a paper mill. Over time, these industries filled in the shoreline of the lake and contaminated the water and sediment with compounds such as mercury and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, resulting in habitat loss and degradation, water quality concerns, and declines in fish and wildlife populations.

Comprehensive restoration efforts on the lake include restoring a total of more than 36 hectares of habitat at various points and the dredging of an estimated 40,200 tonnes of sediment to allow for fish passage.

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