Cliffs Natural Resources announced today that a stream restoration and enhancement project on Warner Creek in Richmond Township has been completed. In a press release this morning, the company said the project is related to discovery of historical tailings settled at the bottom of the creek bed.
The press release states, “Tailings are a combination of water and finely ground rock from the mining process. Tailings are removed from the plant during the concentrating process and transported through a pipeline to a nearby tailings basin. Historic tailings deposits in Warner Creek and the surrounding wetlands were discovered during a thorough investigation of the tailings pipeline area. Cliffs and the State of Michigan worked in cooperation to develop a restoration plan that removed the tailings and enhanced the habitat in Warner Creek.”
“Over the past few years, Cliffs has made significant improvements to the Tilden’s tailings line including an eight million dollar line replacement,” said James Kochevar, general manager, Cliffs Michigan Operations. “We are committed to Cliffs’ core value of environmental stewardship and will continue to make improvements in order to maintain an environmentally responsible practice.”
The Warner Creek improvement project began with the removal of tailings from 1,200 feet of channel. Using natural channel design principals, an engineered plan was developed to install in-stream habitat features, such as gravel runs and riffles that mimic features found in other areas of Warner Creek. The stream features installed for this project provide additional spawning habitat for brook trout, aquatic insect habitat, and deep water pools, while providing stream channel stability. These improvements should provide added recreational opportunities to the fishing public
Jay Parent, who oversaw the Warner Creek work for the Department of Environmental Quality observed, “The project was a great success. It was undertaken during subzero temperatures and blizzards to minimize impacts to adjacent wetlands by supporting equipment with timber mats on frozen soil. This created great hardship for VanDamme Contracting, but they pulled it off beautifully.”
In addition to the creek restoration and enhancement project, Cliffs has agreed to pay $67,200 in civil fines and approximately $7,600 in administrative costs to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). A conservation easement has also been established to provide permanent preservation for 169 acres of wetland in the Green Creek watershed.