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Posted 5/27/2015

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By Emily Schaefer, public affairs specialist
Detroit District

    The Detroit District and its employees were recognized by the 2014 Chief of Engineers Awards of Excellence Program, with the Environmental Merit Award, for the Cat Island Dredged Material Disposal Facility, DMDF, project.

    “It has been a privilege to be part of a team that has provided a quality product in a timely manner and that brings engineering and the environment together as a whole,” said Tom W. O’Bryan, area engineer, Lake Michigan Area Office.

    This $17.2 million project, located west of the mouth of the Fox River in Green Bay, Wisconsin, was finished one year ahead of schedule and $10 million under budget, said Steve G. Check, project manager, Detroit District. 

    The Chief of Engineers Award of Excellence is the chief’s highest award. A unanimous decision is required for an entry that truly exhibits excellence in all major professional disciplines.

    “Receiving this award reinforces the fact that we are carrying out Chief of Engineers, Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick’s vision of expanding the Corps’ environmental footprint,” said Check.

    The Cat Island project constructed three islands for the placement of dredged material from the Green Bay navigation channel, and restored and protected more than 1,000 acres of wetlands that were destroyed in the 1960s.

    The project addressed decades of maintenance dredging for the federal channel and provided an estimated 25 years of disposal capacity, said Check. Pete’s Marsh and Duck Creek Delta Wetland have also been restored, providing 1,440 acres of wetland wildlife refuge as part of the project.

    “It is a win-win for the environmentalists and the engineers,” said O’Bryan. “We now have a facility to place dredged material in and we recreated a habitat that was lost.”

    “The project constructed 4.3 miles of in-water dikes enclosed on three sides to contain 2.3 million cubic yards of clean dredged material from the outer 8 miles of the federal navigation channel and the expansion of the locally owned confined disposal facility for the material from the inner 3 miles of the channel,” according to the 2014 Army Chief of Engineers Awards of Excellence Program.

    The Cat Island area was historically a diverse layover for migratory birds in Wisconsin and since reestablishing the islands, the birds have also reestablished themselves, said Check. Twenty-eight of the 30 bird species have returned and Cat Island has become the top migratory bird sanctuary in Wisconsin.

    This project was the first Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, GLRI, awarded project for the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, under GLRI authority, said Check.  It was also the largest GLRI award in Detroit District history at $8.6 million.

    “Receiving this award is so important to the Detroit District because it is going to help position us to utilize future GLRI funding,” said Check.

    The Army Chief of Engineers Awards of Excellence Program, dating from 1965, recognizes superior projects of innovation accomplished by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and private sector design and construction community partners around the world.

    A jury composed of nationally recognized design and environmental professionals collectively selected 34 projects and individuals for awards.

    “The Chief of Engineers Award of Excellence is important in that it nationally recognizes the project delivery team members and stakeholder efforts, working together to solve a problem with both navigation and environmental benefits,” said Scott J. Thieme, deputy district engineer for project management, Detroit District. “This win-win project is a model for future navigation and environmental restoration efforts.”

    The Detroit District Cat Island project receiving the 2014 Chief of Engineers Awards of Excellence, Environmental Merit Award, is a noteworthy achievement. This recognition exhibits the Detroit District’s continued pursuit of excellence and innovation.

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