BESSEMER - After more than 40 years of seeking a solution to keeping the Oman's Creek boat landing from frequently washing shut, it appears some action is on the horizon.
It might not be the near horizon, but the Gogebic County Board of Commissioners learned Wednesday that the Department of Natural Resources at least has the Lake Superior site on its radar.
Eric Cadeau, a planner with the MDNR, said a long-term plan alternative is to construct a 120- to 160-foot long groin into Lake Superior that would cut down on the erosion that frequently blocks the creek. The erosion requires dredging to open the creek mouth.
Cadeau noted a Northwest Design Group study was commissioned by the DNR in 2010. It recommended seven alternatives, with the priority being converting the boat landing to a carry-in canoe type of site.
That suggestion was met with considerable public opposition at a meeting at Gogebic Community College, where small boat operators urged to keep the site open to small vessels so local anglers and tourists can fish out of Little Girl's Point.
The second alternative listed in the study is to construct a groin. The cost was estimated at $750,000 to $1.4 million.
A groin is a shore-perpendicular structure that extends into a lake. Its function is to interrupt or slow movement of sediment along the shoreline. Groins are especially well suited to areas where the sediment in the near shore consists of sand, as the groin can create a beach.
The goal is to make improvements so erosion from the east to west that blocks the creek can be lessened and the DNR will not have to dredge as often, if at all.
Cadeau said Michigan Waterways funding is limited and while he applied for a Great Lakes Fisheries Trust Fund grant for the project, it went to Lake Michigan instead.
He said federal and state funding might be available for a project.
Cadeau said $43,000 to be used for engineering is being held by the DNR as a potential match for a grant.
Cadeau said it would take about a year to design the project, then grant money would be sought for construction.
In the meantime, the DNR will continue to dredge the creek, where erosion is taking a toll on the shoreline and the small parking lot.
The DNR will continue its partnership with the county, which previously dredged the creek.
A fishing pier?
The planned Little Girl's Point groin could be used as a fishing pier.
County commissioner Leroy Kangas, of Ironwood Township, said fishermen were generally pleased with the DNR's dredging efforts last summer, although it could have been done more frequently.
Cadeau said the MDNR will again stock brown trout in the creek.
Cadeau said there has been some reluctance to stock the fish because when the creek mouth washes shut, the planted brown trout are trapped in a small area of the creek, where predators can feast on them.
Bill Doan, the DNR employee who oversees the Oman's Creek boat landing, praised Cadeau for his work on the project and his "thinking out of the box."