Creating Redridge Park

The Discussion Board: Save the Redridge Dam: Creating Redridge Park
By CindyM on Saturday, January 26, 2002 - 9:25 am:

Since we have begun to look into possibilities and demands for this site, our vision for it has begun to take shape. As the people who live out here well know, our free and easy access to such things as beaches and recreation is dwindling fast. The shores of Lake Superior, once so open and wild, are being bought up and roped off. This site offers a unique and attractive recreation area, open to all. We would like very much to see it become a cleaner, safer and fun place to spend family time for the people of Stanton and anyone else who has a love for this area.

The wooden dam itself is the first priority, the DEQ demands it be made a safe working structure again or be removed. We elect to keep it and the impoundment pond. How we keep it is yet to be determined, but that decision leads to what else can we or should we do there? The maintenance demands of a working dam, as specified by the DEQ and FEMA, require that the embankments be kept clear of brush and vegetation.

We envision clearing some trees away from both dams, creating walking paths, even restoring the old trestle with a safety fence to allow people to walk up there above the dams and take in the spectacular view. Striking a balance between safe accessability, preservation of both the historic human achievement and the natural wild habitat is a challenge, but we believe the people of this area are fully capable of "doing it right". We all live surrounded by this mix of history and wilderness and have an appreciation for both. Neither need exclude the other. No one wishes to ruin the fantastic fishing or disturb the habitat of eagles and otters. Neither do we wish to lose such a wondrous landmark as the largest steel dam in the world and it's predecessor.

We can keep both and create a place for all to enjoy both at the same time. That is the core of our vision for what can happen at Redridge and we invite all to add their comments here or by contacting us directly. Cindy

By Paul Meier on Saturday, January 26, 2002 - 7:59 pm:

Excellent idea. Could be a win-win for all involved. The area has a park-like feel to it as it is now.

By Marc on Tuesday, January 29, 2002 - 1:16 am:

Alot the work you mention, such as clearing brush and treees, creating walking paths, could be done by groups such as the Boy Scouts, schools, churches, etc. It's also something I would love to do with my kids:)

By CindyM on Tuesday, January 29, 2002 - 12:22 pm:

Yep, thats the plan Marc!! We think we can get the community involved and make it a really nice spot (as Paul says it's like a park already) with a bit of effort and some donations it can be one of those projects everyone can feel good about. We may not have alot of cash in Stanton but we know how to work. Cindy

By Doug on Thursday, January 31, 2002 - 7:59 am:

Who currently owns the property that the dams and retention pond are situated on? There are grants available to townships for park development from the DNR. If the property is not currently owned by the township but may be available for sale, there are also land aquisition grants available from the DNR. They are especially fond of awarding grants for land aquisition if they involve water access to the public. This is something your township may want to look into.

By CindyM on Thursday, January 31, 2002 - 9:16 am:

Hi Doug, Lucky Stanton Township owns the site, about 9 acres IIRC. Can you tell me the name of the DNR grants program? I am currently looking at: Coastal Zone Management Grants (DEQ) Save America's Treasures (NPS) Certified Local Governments (SHPO)Transportation Enhancement something or other (MDOT)...... all these ABC's with their hoops and whistles make my head spin, but what the heck? toss me another one to look into!! Money is very tight right now in Michigan (everywhere) and most grants require a match- that will be our stumbling block to most. Thanks for your input! I am getting to the point of telling all these agencies who "require" things yet offer no $$: "required by WHOM, and what if we dont???" Cindy

By CindyM on Thursday, January 31, 2002 - 3:04 pm:

Bravo! to the HHS Ecology Club who called and expressed a desire to become involved with this project!! Anyone else out there? The more the merrier- contact me or leave a note here and I'll try not to rant about my bureaucratic red tape entanglements! Cindy

By Doug on Friday, February 01, 2002 - 7:26 am:


Check out this website:

This is the grant that the township I live in was recently awarded. You are right, though, it does require a match of 25%.

By CindyM on Friday, February 01, 2002 - 1:56 pm:

Thanks Doug! I looked over the DNR's many grants and most look good for us- EXCEPT- we have a fundamental disagreement with the DNR's policy in regards to this project. Their stated policy is to remove dams and open rivers and we want to keep this dam. Because of the steel dam, it would be pointless to remove the wooden dam with the goal of opening the river for the purported purpose of re-establishing spawning and a natural river- the steel dam still blocks the river to fish migration and always will, unless you take it down too! That structure poses a tough fish ladder problem (maybe an elevator??!) and an even more immense removal problem, nevermind its a national landmark! This site is unique - were it simply a single run down old wood dam- we would probably just have to take it down and the DNR would probably help fund that. But, it could be tough to get them to fund a project that disagrees with their policy. I may try anyway.... :-) Cindy

By Marc on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 2:12 am:

If the DNR's response was just a carbon copy of the national policy towards dams in general, maybe a little one on one might get them to change their minds, given that the steel dam will still block fish migration. Granted, going from "remove the dam" to "here's some money to save it", might be too much of a stretch, though...
Is there anything specific you would like me to help with via phone or internet while I'm stuck at sea?

By CindyM on Monday, February 04, 2002 - 3:57 pm:

Hi Marc, We are getting ready to present our gathered info to the Township Board Wednesday night. Right now it looks like we will be going after funding for a professional engineering study, since no other funding will be awarded without that done first. The DEQ's CZM program looks good for funding that.

We have managed to get lots of folks talking! MTU has lots of interest, the folks at SHPO in Lansing are being very helpful, and the DEQ has been great to work with so far. I expect the DNR will come along too as we develope some more plans. This is an attractive project- everyone agrees its a neat place, worth working on. Cindy

By Caito on Sunday, February 10, 2002 - 8:02 pm:

I wouldn't enjoy a park in Redridge. My family visits Redridge each summer for vacation, and I wouldn't want tourists around. Why can we just fix the dam with some good ol' duct tape? Man's Best Friend!!

By admin on Monday, February 11, 2002 - 8:23 am:

Caito, If you visit Redridge each summer for vacation I think that makes you a tourist. Even if you don't realize it many people visit Redridge today, a park would only make this site safe for everyone to enjoy. Duct tape is a good idea it would probably last for centuries.

By Marc on Tuesday, February 12, 2002 - 4:17 am:

Admin makes a good point. However, as a resident, local, whatever, I visit the site often for relaxation, fishing, snowshoing, canoeing, etc. I would also like to see the site remain as untouched as possible. I understand the positive aspects of publicly maintained park-type settings but the truely "special" places are those that don't hold the trappings of government, regulation, tourism, rules, signs, pathways, parking lots and a constant flow of people. That impoundment is one of the few places I can take a canoe and be nearly assured of being alone. The reasons are the lack of publicity, facilties and the extra effort needed to access the water. In many ways, it would be a shame to take away the areas particular charm, remoteness and peace. In all this, since Cindy first broached the project months ago, I didn't realize until today, that in the end if a parking lot appears there, I will most likely never return:(
I want to see the dam fixed, the history preserved, the site cleaned up and I understand the arguements for accesibility to everyone but does that justify turning everything natural, beautiful or unique into a regulated, signed, cemented, parking lot, handicapped accessible tourist attraction with a hot dog stand and a park ranger? That's not what is likely to happen here, but I would like to stimulate some conversation on just how far people want the changes to go...

By CindyM on Tuesday, February 12, 2002 - 11:48 am:

Marc, Id be interested to hear the answers to that last question too..... since I agree with you! We may have to push in a road to reach the dam to work on it, but I sure dont envision it becoming Disney Land! Cindy

By Caito on Tuesday, February 12, 2002 - 5:04 pm:

I don't see myself as a tourist....I've been there every summer since i was born! (Note that i am only 12, less than a week to become a TEENAGER!)

By Caito on Tuesday, February 12, 2002 - 5:06 pm:

A park would be good, If you think about it, I just want the place to be peaceful, not with a tour guide in a blazer.
(Remember I am 12 years old...hehe. I tend to speak my mind)

By CindyM on Tuesday, February 12, 2002 - 5:56 pm:

Caito, Congrats on almost being a teen! I dont think you need to worry about Redridge being over run with guys in Bermuda shorts with cameras! What the place has to offer doesnt attract what we usually think of as tourists. It IS a peaceful place- now! when I am there, I always try to imagine what it must have been like 100 years ago- a big raw gash hacked out of the woods with smoking trains and big pipes and the stamp mills pounding on the shore. Mother Nature has healed it nicely and for our time in history we will try to make it clean and less dangerous- while saving the history so *your* kids can go there someday and imagine what it once was like. I like the contrast of peaceful nature returned to what was once a very busy place! Cindy

By Caito on Tuesday, February 12, 2002 - 6:18 pm:

I do worry. I think of Redridge as a second home. I love the peace and quiet. Like Marc said, I wouldn't really want to visit if there were concrete parking lots, and those tour guides who might say, "Hi! My name is ____! We can all be friends! Now, let's start off with the Redridge Steel Dam!" or something like that.


By Caito on Tuesday, February 12, 2002 - 6:33 pm:

Cindy, I just re-read your last message and I figured something out. "guys in Bermuda shorts with cameras! What the place has to offer doesnt attract what we usually think of as tourists." that's one thing you said. Now that I think about it, you're right! Cuz, most tourists want something exciting, I'm not saying Redridge isn't exciting or anything, I'm just saying that it wouldn't be the tourist-y type place. Am I making sense? haha...

By Marc on Wednesday, February 13, 2002 - 8:22 am:

Your both right. It couldn't become much of a "touristy" type place as it just doesn't offer the excitement, or whatever.
My comments on what it might become stemmed from a realization I had this fall while salmon fishing on the Pilgrim River. I have always made it habit to pick up any trash I find while fishing, like discarded pop cans, worm tubs, etc. I realized that since the wonderful, wooden boardwalk was built along the Pilgrim, my trash uptake during a typical angling outing had doubled at the Pilgrim and now consisted of things like film packaging, food trash, more beer cans, booze bottles, etc. Although I found the boardwalk to be a useful addition to the area as well as constructed with the natural surroundings in mind, it has made the entire stretch of river from US 41 to the mouth accessible by the type of people who are so far removed from Nature that they have no respect for it and treat such an area like a dump. I'm not saying that the boardwalk was a bad idea or that I wish it were removed but it is an example of good intentions having negative consequences on an area of natural beauty.
However, my favorite memory of that place will most likely be of sitting on one of the handy benches, drinking a hot cup of coffee at sunrise, watching a bald eagle soaring overhead, searching the river for salmon. Without those benches I wouldn't have been sitting down, looking up at the sky...
Caito-your a well-spoken, thoughtful young person. I hope you get to enjoy Redridge for many years to come, along with your own children.

By pickle ( on Saturday, July 05, 2003 - 8:16 pm:

How is this project coming along? Sounds interesting.

By Daniel J ( on Sunday, June 06, 2004 - 8:28 pm:

I just got back from a six day camp outing at Redridge. I and three of my friends drove over 600 miles to see what the damage was like on both the old logging dam and the steel dam. It was a bit frustrating to see that the stanton township placed danger do not enter signs around the area. Although a safe idea. We set up camp on top of the hill overlooking the flood waters from the old logging dam and began a 5 day photo shoot. I first came to Redridge in 1994 and have been back many times, always enjoying a great time in the wonderful outdoors of the north. however this time it was very sad. I contacted Cindy about a month ago about a business I have established Here in the Lower Pennsula of Michigan (Fruitport) which is a Expression of Redridge. I have opened a speciality gift store dedicated to Redridge. I and my business partner make about 85% of the product we sell, ourselves. We have just opened the doors to the public this past weekend. We have great plans for donating a portion of our proceeds for the "save the Redridge dams project". We are still in the process of establishing our web site but you can visit it at The majority of our products revolve around metal art. We really hope here at Red Ridge LLC, we can begin to make a difference restoring the dams. We know we are a small operation and can't possibly donate all the money to save it our selves. However, we are very eager to have people jump on board to help save the damn. I am looking for old photos to be donated to sell in the store and on the web site which in return can be 100% proceeds donated. Please email with any questions or info you have. It seems as though time is running out. May the dams stand long enough to see repair. Dan Balaskovitz Owner / Envirotech Fabrication Owner/ Red Ridge LLC

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