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  • Soo Locks open early for 2021 shipping season

    SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich., – The Detroit District’s Soo Area Office will open the Poe Lock noon, March 24, marking the 2021 Great Lakes shipping season start. The shipping industry requested an early season opening to ensure safety of the vessels. “We believe a 1200 EST opening on 24 March 2021 provides a safer timeframe for vessels to transit Whitefish Bay and the St. Mary’s River. It facilitates U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) icebreaking prior to and after the initial lock transits,” James Weakley, President of the Lake Carriers’ Association said. “The efficiency of icebreaking for the first transits is the primary driver for this request.”
  • Great Lakes water levels lower than 2020 heading into spring rise

    DETROIT- Great Lake water levels in 2021 are tracking below last year’s levels, though Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, St. Clair and Erie remain well above long-term average levels, according to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials who track and forecast Great Lakes water levels. Lake Ontario recently fell slightly below long-term average levels. The February 2021 monthly mean water levels ranged from 7 to 23 inches below levels from this time last year. Since November 2020, the Great Lakes basin experienced four consecutive months of below average precipitation. This combined with a cold air outbreak during February led to increased evaporation across the lakes and caused a St. Clair River ice jam to develop. When ice jams occur, water levels downstream of the restriction decline, while water levels upstream of the restriction rise.
  • Corps of Engineers assisting US, Canada coast guards easing St Clair River flooding

    Using strategically placed water monitoring equipment and a field team, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is providing technical advice for St. Clair River U.S. and Canadian coast guard ice breaking operations. The technical advice helps identify areas to focus ice breaking efforts and Corps of Engineers Emergency Management is helping coordinate efforts across local, state, state and federal governments.
  • Corps of Engineers cleaning debris inadvertently placed on Minnesota Point

    DETROIT - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is coordinating cleanup of aluminum cans and can fragments inadvertently deposited on Minnesota Point during dredge material placement in the fall of 2020. USACE placed 49,000 cubic yards of beneficial use dredge material on Minnesota Point at the city’s request during annual Duluth-Superior Harbor maintenance dredging operations in August and September. In 2019, 53,000 cubic yards of dredge material was placed on the south end of Minnesota Point to minimize erosion due to high water and protect old growth trees. The city requested additional material in 2020 to help restore the eroded beach and dune habitat. The debris likely resulted from dredge equipment encountering an area containing trash discarded in the harbor in the 1970s based on aluminum can vintage. About 27,000 cubic yards of dredge material came from the area USACE officials believe contained the debris.
  • New Lock at the Soo to co-host virtual town hall

    SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich.- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and city officials here will co-host a virtual town hall noon, January 25, 2021, to provide additional information and address community’s questions and concerns regarding placement of a temporary project office in Canal Park. To participate in the virtual town hall, join the zoom meeting at: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87065852272?pwd=WDRKOURjck1HN3hyMDZiZWtUdkVOQT09 Meeting ID: 870 6585 2272 Passcode: 889905 Or dial in at: +1 (646-558)-8656 Meeting ID: 870 6585 2272# Passcode: 889905# The USACE, Detroit District released a public notice December 13, 2020, pursuant to Section 106 of 54 U.S.C. Subtitle III, National Historic Preservation Act, inviting concerns and comments regarding a proposed Memorandum of Agreement with the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office to erect a structure to provide office space necessary for the Integrated Project Office, New Lock at the Soo to execute and oversee construction at the Soo Locks Complex.
  • Soo Locks upgrading park’s lock model displays

    DETROIT- Soo Locks visitors will see more than $100,000 in improved lock model displays in the coming years thanks to local partner support and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Handshake Partnership Program. Currently, the park features two original 3-D models dating back to 1893 and 1912, showing locks built on the facility over 100 years ago. The models sit in concrete and glass cases with cracked panes and openings in the bases allowing air, moisture and insects to get inside. The oldest model was built to test the original Poe Lock plans in 1893 as evidenced by a photo discovered by Chief Park Ranger Michelle Briggs while working with historic photos. “I was doing some research when I found a photo dated March 1893 of the workmen posed with the model of the original Poe Lock, which I recognized from the park,” Briggs said. “I am sure this model was finished shortly after the picture was taken since one of the workmen is still holding a paint brush.”
  • FishPass project to begin construction

    DETROIT – A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contractor is set to commence construction on the FishPass Project in Traverse City, Michigan the week of January 18. The contractor will begin by installing fencing, removing trees and preparing the site. “This milestone represents years of hard work from many dedicated partners,” said Marty Colburn, City Manager of Traverse City. “We ask the community to be patient with our construction partners as this exciting project advances. Soon, there will be dedicated viewing sites set up for the public to watch FishPass take shape.”
  • Soo Locks closing for seasonal repair, maintenance

    DETROIT- The Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan will close to marine traffic beginning 11:59 p.m. January 15 through 12:01 a.m. March 25 to perform critical maintenance. The operating season is fixed by federal regulation and is driven in part by the feasibility of vessels operating in typical ice conditions. Every year, the Corps uses the winter period to perform maintenance to keep the Soo Locks operating. The Soo Area Office team works long hours in extreme conditions to complete a significant amount of maintenance during this annual closure period. The work they perform is unique, especially given the harsh northern Michigan conditions they work in.