Michigan DEQ asks EPA to remove Deer Lake from Areas of Concern list

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has sent the EPA a letter asking the federal agency to remove Deer Lake in Ishpeming from its federal list of environmental areas of concern.

The DEQ put the letter in the mail last Friday. The next step will be to set up a public notice period and a public meeting date. The DEQ has proposed the month of June as the public notice period, and it’s asked for a public meeting at a point in July to be determined.

“It is great news,” Ishpeming city manager Mark Slown said. “It’s great news for the people who live around and on Deer Lake. It’s great news for tourists (and) sport fishermen, assuming that it gets de-listed.”

This doesn’t mean fish caught in Deer Lake can be kept yet. However, city officials say the process is moving along and it’s becoming more likely all the time that people will be able to keep the fish eventually.

“I can’t guarantee that they will do that,” Slown said. “The letter has been sent, using the good Offices of the Great Lakes. It’s been great for Ishpeming because out of the whole project with Partridge Creek, we got important improvements that we needed.”

The Partridge Creek project removed the source of most of the mercury runoff into the lake. The city received a $2 million grant from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in 2010 to cover part of the cost. A $6 million grant in 2012 covered most of the remaining cost.