Harbor town raises money, purchases new dredger after government funding falls short
Leland, Mich., on the shores of Lake Michigan, is one of the jewel communities of the state’s Northern Lower Peninsula. Originally developed in the 1800s as a port for the iron mining and lumber industries in the area, which used Lake Michigan as a water route to the Port of Chicago, Leland was an important cog in the Michigan economy. Over the past century, Leland’s role along Lake Michigan changed
, and it became a summer boating Mecca and a harbor of refuge during inclement weather for boaters on Lake Michigan. Today the Leland Harbor Marina, built in 1966, is surrounded by local shops and restaurants, and is in great demand for local and visiting boaters.
As with any marina, Leland Harbor’s entrance channel and slips fill in with shifting sand and silt. For many decades, the harbor contracted dredging services to keep the marina clear at permitted depths, often with funding from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
(ACOE). According to Tony Borden, Harbor Commissioner, Leland Harbor has had to dredge its harbor mouth and channel 49 times in the last 53 years. “The ACOE used to dredge it routinely with contractors, but a lack of funding eliminated that. The State of Michigan has helped a few times too,” he said. In 2012, the Harbor paid for its own dredging at a cost of almost $130,000. In 2013, the State of Michigan provided assistance at a cost of $192,000. And in 2014, The ACOE was able to help fund contract dredging at a cost of $177,000. “Last year Michigan offered matching funds to Leland, but even with that, we could not get a dredge here in time to help us during our peak season,” said Borden.
With no dredging taking place in 2015 and 2016, the harbor had silted completely shut by January 2017. But the community of Leland had already decided in the summer of 2016 to take matters into its own hands. The Harbor had approximately $250,000 in financial reserves when it chose to purchase a new 10-inch Wolverine Class cutter suction hydraulic dredge, manufactured at DSC Dredge’s Greenbush, Michigan, facility. With another $250,000 required to purchase the dredge, the town created a crowdfunding site in December 2016, and the donations began to roll in – so quickly that it was able to raise the full amount required in less than a month. Taking delivery of its Wolverine Dredge in mid-April 2017, a crew of Leland township employees received full training over the next week, so that they can now rely upon their own resources – at a minimal annual cost – to keep the harbor cleared.
The Wolverine is ideal for harbor dredging. It is a compact, conventional dredge that still allows for a wide cut to fit the project plans and specification for Leland Harbor Marina. Fully functional with just one operator, the 68-foot-long Wolverine can reach dredging depths down to 25 feet below the surface and allows for maximum particle clearance of 6 inches. It offers single-truck portability in almost every geographical location.
“Purchasing the DSC dredge provides Leland Harbor with complete certainty on maintaining channel depths and keeping our harbor open,” noted Borden. “It is the ultimate solution for our annual dredging needs.”
“The project is very much needed, as the marina channel entering to the slips was completely closed. The dredge is new to Leland, but will avoid the hiring of a contractor to keep the harbor open,” said David Driver, DSC Field Service Technician. He explained that the investment Leland has made in its dredge will be met in less than three years. “For many years to come, Leland Township will be able to keep its marina free and clear of fill for the many boaters who use the facility. DSC Dredge Michigan Division
is very proud to deliver this equipment within its home state,” he said.