The man who dredged a new canal into Lake Michigan was convicted
A man has been charged with diverting a national park river to make Lake Michigan easier for boaters.
Andrew Howard of Frankfort, Michigan, was found guilty of tampering and vandalism on Wednesday during a brief trial before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ray Kent.
In August 2022, a National Park Service ranger witnessed Howard digging with a shovel so that the Platte River at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore would be turned into one of the Great Lakes, prosecutors said in a lawsuit.
“Within days, the natural force of the water and the constructed dam caused the river to divert and create a new channel into Lake Michigan that widened to approximately 200 feet in width,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren Pixaki said.
“It stayed at about that range through the summer and fall,” she added. “There was then an influx in anglers coming to the Platte River boat launch to take advantage of the favorable access conditions created by the new canal.”
The Associated Press left a voicemail and email seeking comment from Howard’s attorney on Thursday.
U.S. Attorney Mark Totten said Howard had a political dispute with the National Park Service and “took matters into his own hands.”
The Park Service is no longer dredging the Platte River. As a result, sediment and sand accumulate, reducing the ability to get boats into Lake Michigan.
When the diversion first occurred, some state and local officials, business owners and fishing groups expressed support for increased boating access and argued that it actually benefited the river, according to a local news site. Mlive.com reported. Town officials have called for dredging the mouth of the river, arguing that the shallowness of the stream poses a safety hazard that hinders access to Platte Bay for rescue boats.
according to Mlive.comSince dredging stopped in 2016, two people have died in the bay — a Holt teen drowned while swimming and a 21-year-old died when his kayak capsized.
“It would be good if the rescue boat could get out in time,” Kyle Orr, owner of Riverside Canoe Trips, told Mlive.com.
(Tags for translation)Lake Michigan