Wetland construction by MDOT concerns neighboring landowner in Bruce Crossing

The neighboring landowner is concerned about decreased water flow onto his property because of the construction.
Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 7:14 PM EDT
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BRUCE CROSSING, Mich. (WLUC) - New wetlands are being constructed on property purchased by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) in Bruce Crossing.

They are to make up for wetlands that were affected during the construction of two bridges on M-26, one over the east branch and one over the west branch of the Firesteel River.

“We’re trying to satisfy state and federal regulations by creating some new wetland habitat in this area to mitigate impacts that we had on wetlands in that same region from a different project,” said MDOT Superior Region Communications Representative Dan Weingarten.

However, this has drawn concerns from neighboring landowner Howard Lindberg. A retired forester, Lindberg is concerned this new construction will impact water running onto his land.

“The Michigan Department of Transportation feels that they’re not taking it,” said Lindberg. “They’re simply, and this isn’t their words, but it’s mine, borrowing it, but they’re slowing it.”

He first heard about the construction in March 2021 and has been in frequent contact with MDOT and the State Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) to try and resolve his concerns.

Lindberg says the construction of wetlands would include dam installations separating water flow from the land MDOT owns and his property. He is now looking into avenues of compensation for potential damages a reduction of water could have on his property’s trees.

“Ultimately my goal is that I feel I should be compensated for water that is being, in my view, captured and taken from me,” continued Lindberg. “What I first suggested to MDOT last year was since the equipment was on site, maybe this crew could construct a small pond with all the necessary permits that I would seek out.”

MDOT says the water flow should not have a significant impact.

“Our department has done a thorough analysis of water flow at that site,” continued Weingarten. “And we’ve determined that the mitigation plan that we’re putting into effect would not have a long-term impact on the water flow downstream. If it has an impact, it will be negligible.”

EGLE is the regulating agency on the project. It agrees with MDOT’s assessment and will be watching the site both during and after the wetlands work.

“This project will be monitored both during the construction phase and for many years after the construction phase to ensure that it is not having any negative impacts on adjacent property owners or adjacent land,” said EGLE Communications Manager Hugh McDiarmid Jr. “And if it does, measures will be taken to make adjustments to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

However, Lindberg wants to inform the community at large about his situation to gain support.

“That’s why I’ve taken a different route going to the court of public opinion and maybe win some support or some sympathy, and we’ll see what happens,” added Lindberg. “I’m not a tired old man looking for company and I’m not an anti-government person.”

MDOT aims to complete the project in November.