By Howard Meyerson
It’s taken three dam mishaps and several years of legal wrangling for good sense to finally prevail about the Song of the Morning Ranch/ Lansing Club dam on the Pigeon River, a state designated Wild-Scenic River and one Michigan’s finer blue-ribbon trout streams which runs through Otsego and Cheboygan counties.
The dam there will be coming out, perhaps next year, and the pond behind it is being drawn down in preparation for that momentous event. I am glad to see progress being made. The Pigeon River and its fisheries have suffered far too much insult because of the dam.
You may have read last April that a settlement was hammered out between the state and Golden Lotus Inc., which operates the Song of the Morning Ranch, the yoga camp at the dam site. Golden Lotus was fined $120,000 for mitigation of the effects of its most recent 2008 silt spill from the dam, a catastrophic event that killed an estimated 450,000 trout. The agreement calls for a permanent draw down of pond waters behind it. That process got underway in late May.
A collaborative agreement on restoration of the river, between Golden Lotus Inc., Trout Unlimited and the Pigeon River Country Association also calls for deconstruction and removal of the dam and the building a bridge over the river, Phase II of the project.
“The plan is to slowly draw the impoundment down through this summer and fall,” explains Lisha Ramsdell, the Phase II project manager with Huron Pines, a conservation and resource development non-profit in Gaylord that was contracted to be the Phase II project leader. It will manage dam removal and construction of the bridge.
“We’ll be working through the winter to get a permit and construction contractor and get them lined up for dam removal in 2015 ideally,” Ramsdell said. Continue reading