A Wednesday update on reconstruction of part of the Little Thornapple River Drain was mostly positive, with work on a test site continuing with the expectation that it will be completed before the next update in August.
The DEQ agreed to a test plan to use Barry County Jail inmates for hand work where heavy machinery can’t be used, reclaiming somewhat less than an acre that would serve as partial replacement of lost wetlands.
Aaron Snell, of Streamside Ecological Services, said work with the inmates and others went well, with the effort about half finished. They will finish the work and ask a DEQ representative to inspect it and hopefully approve it.
The Little Thornapple River Drain Drainage Board unanimously approved authorizing Snell to work on all permitted work toward completion of the project. Getting needed permits has not been a problem, Barry County Drain Commissioner Jim Dull said.
At the same time, Attorney Stacy Hissong will continue working with the DEQ on an administrative consent order covering the legal technicalities.
The DEQ would like to see a faster timeline, but there’s not much they can do about that, Snell said. The drain board’s funding comes through assessments on property owners added to property tax bills so, “comes in chunks,” and is not a steady stream of income.
The next progress report is set for 2 p.m. Aug.17 at the Barry Central Dispatch community room.//
The drainage board members are Brady Harrington, deputy director of the Michigan Department of Agricultural and Rural Development and drain commissioners, Jim Dull from Barry County, Robert Rose from Ionia County and Ken Yonker from Kent County.
n August, 2014, the intercounty drain board hired Geiger Excavating to do limited tree removal to correct flooding problems along part of the 13.9-mile-length of the Little Thornapple Drain, part of the Thornapple River.
Property owners along the drain and trout stream were soon complaining in public meetings of trees being cut and left lay, bank erosion, loss of ground cover along the river’s banks, lowered property values and general devastation of the river and their property.
In April, 2015. The Little Thornapple River Drain Drainage Board held a public meeting and hired Aaron Snell, co-owner of Streamside Ecological Services, to provide a reconstruction plan for review by the DEQ. The latest plan submitted by Snell was accepted by the DEQ with minor questions.