News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

City backs Detroit Flats for dredging debris

The City of Detroit has made its views known on where the remains of proposed dredging at Detroit Lake should be disposed of.

The City Council voted unanimously at its Aug. 8 meeting to back placing the detritus in the Detroit Flats day-use area at the east end of the lake after hearing a presentation from Lari Rupp, an economic development specialist with Marion County. Councilors also considered two other alternatives, one on a peninsula near Kane’s Marina and the other on a small island near Piety Island in the middle of the lake.

The Detroit decision is not binding. The Marion County Board of Commissioners will make the final decision on the $5 million project.

The dredging, if ultimately approved, would produce 162,000 cubic yards of debris, or enough to fill 6.5 Olympic-sized swimming pools. The sediment would add to the Detroit Flats peninsula area known as Osprey Point. Adding the debris to the peninsula, which is 2,400 feet long and 120 feet wide, also could produce recreational benefits such as fishing access and new hiking options.          

Rupp, however, emphasized that those amenities “would require a future phase, additional authorizations, and funding. Marion County’s primary goal is to support the Santiam Canyon economy by excavating sediment from beneath the marinas.” 

This Google Earth view shows the potential impact of placing dredging debris at the Detroit Flats area. The debris would go in the hook-shaped area. Colored sections of the map at center and upper right show the locations of the two marinas at the lake.Marion County
This Google Earth view shows the potential impact of placing dredging debris at the Detroit Flats area. The debris would go in the hook-shaped area. Colored sections of the map at center and upper right show the locations of the two marinas at the lake.
Marion County

County surveys of both Detroit-area residents and visitors showed a strong preference for the Detroit Flats option. 

Dredging the areas under Kane’s Marina and the Detroit Lake Marina would make it easier for the two operations to stay open when the lake level is low. The dredging is expected to extend the boating season and give a boost to the local economy. Both marinas support the plan.

Once the Board of Commissioners signs off on the sediment site, perhaps as soon as later this summer, the project will move into engineering, permitting, and construction phases. County officials have set a goal of completing construction by December 2026.

Funding for the $5 million project already is in hand. Early appropriations produced $3 million for the project via state lottery funds and federal American Rescue Plan Act funds, with an allocation of $2 million secured by then-U.S. Rep Kurt Schrader finishing off the funding piece.

The work would be done in the winter and would not interfere with the recreation season at the lake. In Detroit, low water years translates to economic struggles. And because Detroit Lake Marina and Kane’s Marina both lie on shallow shelves, they are forced to close frequently when water is being drained from the lake.

Detroit Lake Marina and Kane’s Marina “serve as the economic engines for the area,” said a county report on the dredging project. County officials project a positive economic impact of more than $1 million per year if the dredging moves forward.

The project has been a long time coming. County officials first proposed the idea in the 2018-19 fiscal year, but it was tabled because of other challenges (COVID-19 and the wildfires).

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