Thank you for your interest in this project! In front of you is what is referred to as the "Sabin Rapids", and the landscape beyond used to be Sabin Pond. This was a 40-acre impoundment created by the Sabin Dam, which was constructed in 1906 to produce hydroelectric power for Traverse City, until 2004 when it was decommissioned. Sabin Dam was ultimately removed in 2018. Where you are standing now is where the powerhouse used to stand, and the land upstream that you can see was completely underwater. Today, the relic channel of the Boardman “Ottaway” River runs freely through the former impoundment as it did prior to being dammed over 100 years ago.
Dams not only block paddlers, but also block the movement of fish and other essential elements important to a healthy connected river system. Removal of the dams and impoundments led to an anticipated drop in the river’s temperature increasing the available dissolved oxygen in the water, which in turn helps support cold-water fish like trout and aquatic insect species.
The Grand Traverse Conservation District serves as managers of the Natural Education Reserve (NER), where Boardman and Sabins dams were located, for Grand Traverse County and has helped to coordinate the installation of over 13,000+ native seedlings and tree species in the newly exposed bottomlands. Included in these restoration projects is the placement of large wood at strategic locations in the river, which protects river bends and creates habitat. These restoration efforts are ongoing and active, so please stay on designated trails to allow vegetation to grow undisturbed. With your help through Chronolog, we will be able to visually track the success of the restoration processes over time to show how what was once a barren landscape will continue to become a thriving ecosystem surrounding a healthy river. For more information on the removal of the dams, please visit www.theboardman.org.
The Grand Traverse Conservation District manages over 3,000 acres of public parklands in Grand Traverse County, Michigan, including stewardship of the Boardman “Ottaway” River. Management activities include the coordination and implementation of large-scale restoration projects associated with the removal of Brown Bridge, Boardman, and Sabin Dams. We’re asking you to help us document changes to the ‘bottomlands’ of the former ponds by uploading to Chronolog, a photo monitoring tool powered by people like you. For more information on GTCD, please visit www.natureiscalling.org.