Roscommon dams to be removed

In the battle between nature and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, it looks like nature has won: MNR will remove two dams in Roscommon County and “let the beavers do the heavy lifting.”

The Little Mud Dam on Backus Creek and Denton Creek Dam on Denton Creek, which are owned by MNR, are slated to be removed this winter and next spring, officials said this month.

The removal plans followed recent inspections of the two dams which revealed that their water control structures needed major improvements. MNR said it chose to remove the structures after assessing their age, deficiencies and maintenance needs, as well as the estimated cost of replacing the dam and surrounding wildlife habitat.

Backus and Denton creeks were considered active waterways for beavers. The creatures often blocked the streams with dams, which created “small floods” in areas known as Little Mud Lake Flooding and Denton Creek Flooding, the DNR said.

Streams also provided habitat for wetland wildlife, but that changed with the decline of local beaver populations in the 1940s and 1950s, MNR said.

To shore up the area, MNR, then known as the Department of Conservation, installed the Denton Creek Dam in 1954 and the Little Mud Dam about three years later. The beaver population eventually recovered and natural dams reappeared.

“In recent years, the local beavers have tried to outdo us,” said Mark Boersen, MNR wildlife biologist. dams risk overflows, gully formation and the creation of additional maintenance problems. After taking into consideration the economic, habitat and recreational impacts, we decided to restore the natural waterway and let the beavers do the heavy lifting. ”

The Denton Creek Dam, built in 1954, stops Denton Creek, creating flooding of Denton Creek.

The move is expected to restore the natural flow of the waterways.

“The Wildlife Division is responsible for many water control structures similar to these dams. They can be very expensive to repair, replace and maintain over time, “Keith Fisher, MNR wildlife biologist, said in a statement.” When we have the opportunity to restore habitat to its natural setting besides saving maintenance dollars for other projects, it’s a win-win for everyone involved.

The dismantling of the Little Mud Dam is expected to begin this winter. Water levels there have been lowered and access is restricted, the DNR said.

Removal of the Denton Lake dam was scheduled to begin in the spring.

“After the dam is removed, access to the area will be changed, as some of the existing trail infrastructure will be removed,” the DNR said.

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