Dam Project

What is The Boardman: A River Reborn?

People in our community have an appreciation for the Boardman River as it meanders through our forests, fields and towns.  A river of this quality is a globally rare resource and a priceless community asset.  Proper care and stewardship of this gem are critical to its long-term health. The removal of dams on the Boardman will allow it return to a more natural state as a free-flowing, cold-water river.  It will truly be a river reborn. 


In 2005, Traverse City Light and Power determined that it is not economically feasible to produce hydropower at the Sabin, Boardman and Brown Bridge dams. Dam owners – the City of Traverse City and the Grand Traverse County – organized the Boardman River Dams Committee to gather community feedback, encourage community involvement and manage an engineering and feasibility study to assess the environmental, economical and social benefits and detriments of retaining, modifying and removing the Boardman River dams. After thorough review and discussion the dam owners decided to remove the Sabin, Boardman and Brown Bridge dams and modify the Union Street dam.

Facts at a Glance

Phase I: Brown Bridge Dam Removal

Brown Bridge Dam removal was completed in January 2013 and resulted in the reestablishment of 2.5 miles of river channel. Revegetation and restoration work in the project area is ongoing.

US Army Corps of Engineers Boardman River Dams Ecosystem Restoration Project

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is working in partnership with numerous local, state, federal and tribal stakeholders on plans to restore tributary habitat for fish in the Boardman River by modifying or removing three dams (Union Street, Sabin and Boardman) on the Boardman River system, individually or in combination.

USACE Project Cost/Funding/Timeline

Total USACE project costs are estimated to be approximately $15.2M, including all planning, design and construction related efforts.  The 65% Federal share is expected to be approximately $9.9M, withthe 35% non-Federal, or local share, being approximately $5.3M.  Timeline for approvals, permitting, design and construction is optimally expected to run through 2018 with ongoing restoration work thereafter.

View USACE Feasibility Study and Environmental Assessment 
View USACE Project Fact Sheet
August 2014 Public Meeting Visuals


The rebirth of the Boardman River is a community development project with many long-term benefits.


  • Enhance and restore habitat for native and naturalized fish species and organisms preferring cold water.
  • Restore over 3.4 miles and reconnect 160 miles of high-quality river habitat.
  • Restore more than 250 acres of wetlands and nearly 60 acres of upland habitat.


  • Impact the local economy by stimulating increased recreation and tourism 
  • Promote business growth and new opportunities from increased interest in water-related activities, including fishing, kayaking and canoeing.
  • Support the long-term goals of the Grand Vision guiding principle of “protecting and preserving the water resources, forests, natural areas and the scenic beauty of the region.”


  • Engage all interests, cultivating a sense of ownership in the project and outcome, and ensure that the process is sensitive to community needs and concerns.
  • Secure unparalleled cooperation among federal, tribal, state and local government agencies and nonprofit entities.
  • Document and archive the process in detail as it unfolds, and initiate the development of a model that will be transferable for use by other communities faced with similar issues.
  • Continue to involve a diverse group of individuals and organizations throughout the process, and into the future, to ensure the long-term health of the Boardman River.


  • Create an on-the-ground laboratory for local schools. Support a variety of scientific research initiatives to assess the impacts of dam removal.