The Manistique River has a long history and a bright delisted future

A drive through just about any part of the Upper Peninsula will quickly show a visitor why the region and logging have such a history together.

Forests stretch as far as they eye can see, and lumber from the U.P. has historically been a key industry for the people who have come here to live in the northwoods.

Manistique is in the heart of the U.P., and its history is intertwined with the logs that have been harvested here. Today, lumber is still produced in the city, as is paper at a local paper mill.

The Manistique River snakes through the entirety of Manistique. Wood pulp and sawdust from logging-related industrial operations, as well as other contaminants tied to those operations, earned the river a spot on the toxic Areas of Concern list.

But efforts to clean the river have gone well, and only restrictions on the consumption of fish and wildlife from the river and restrictions on dredging still remain in place. As of 2009, three other restrictions have been lifted, including beach closings and swimming restrictions that have helped return the city of Manistique into a destination for locals and tourists alike.
The efforts continue in hopes of getting the final two restrictions lifted, and it is hoped that a full delisting will be approved in the next few years.

Already the city has embraced its renewed river, having built a boardwalk to help show off the Lake Michigan shoreline. Local businesses are setting up shop along the river and near it.

There is a future for the Manistique River, and being delisted as an Area of Concern in first and foremost on the list.

Sam Eggleston is a freelance writer and editor based in the Upper Peninsula.

This series about restoration in Michigan's Areas of Concern is made possible through support from the Michigan Office of Great Lakes through Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

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