LAKE LINDEN, Mich. (WLUC) - Stamp sands cover over 5 miles of shoreline on the Keweenaw Peninsula and cause massive ecological damage to Buffalo Reef in Lake Superior. On Thursday a representative from the EPA came to get a firsthand look at the damage.
A stretch of Lake Superior's shoreline that is covered in stamp sand.
"I came up along with many of our partners to take a look at what's happening with the stamp sands along this stretch of the shoreline. Basically, we're looking at an environmental problem that dates back 100 years or more," said Chris Korleski, the Director of the Great Lakes National Program Office within the EPA.
The stamp sand is material left over from the area's copper mining days and is currently covering 30% of Buffalo Reef. The reef is a valuable resource for local tribes, as well as sport and commercial fishers.
"The estimated impact just from the resource itself, is about 40 million dollars if the reef was completely covered over by stamp sand and no longer viable, as well as if the whitefish recruitment area was wiped out," said John Pepin, a the Deputy Public Information Officer with the Michigan DNR.
The EPA is currently funding the dredging project that is helping to buy time until a permanent solution to the stamp sand situation can be found, and the representative wanted to see the problem first hand.
"To use the old adage, go to the spot. You go to the spot and make sure you understand the problem. You can rely on what people tell you, but in my experience, being there, experiencing it, and understanding the magnitude of the issue is really critical," added Korleski
All of the parties involved are hoping that they can put their best foot forward and save the reef.
"The stamp sands are something that some people thought would be a problem that would never be solved. And hopefully that's something that's going to change," said Pepin.