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

Detroit Lake dredging project moves forward

The initiative to dredge under the marinas at Detroit Lake and thus keep the boat docks open longer during low water times, has passed another key hurdle.

The Marion County Board of Commissioners at its Sept. 6 meeting approved a resolution designating the Detroit Lake flats area as the debris site for the work.

The next step for the project is about a year’s worth of engineering and permitting, with construction anticipated for the 2024-2025 winter drawdown period, said Lari Rupp, an economic development specialist with Marion County. County officials have set a goal of completing construction by December 2026.

The project, which is expected to provide an economic boost to the Detroit Lake region, is estimated to cost $5.8 million. Marion county has approximately $5.1 million set aside.

“The lion’s share of project funding has been secured, and as the project’s detailed design progresses, our team will be continually reassessing costs and whether there will be any further funding needs,” Rupp said.

The Detroit City Council approved the Detroit Flats debris site at its Aug. 8 meeting. Kane’s Marina and the Detroit Lake Marina, also back the plan.

Two alternatives were considered, 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 dredging 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 additional funding and a separate planning phase.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 project is expected to extend the boating season and give a boost to the local economy. 

The work will 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. Now, 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 project. County officials project a positive economic impact of more than $1 million per year once the project is completed.

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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