By surface area, Lake Michigan is the third largest of the Great Lakes and the second largest by volume.
And, located on Lake Michigan is Waugoshance Point Target, a Formerly Used Defense Site in which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently completed a remedial investigation.
“The area was formerly used by the U.S. Navy for a short time between 1944 and 1945, in support of Naval Air Station Traverse City, Michigan,” said Dr. David Brancato, USACE Louisville District risk sssessment subject matter expert. “There were limited equipment testing and scheduled bombing missions, as well as machine gun strafing practice from aircraft.”
After World War II, the needs of the nation changed, and eventually, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources began managing Waugoshance Point Target under the Wilderness State Park – offering year-round recreational activities and natural resource conservation.
Training missions ceased at the former Naval Air Station, and the leased target areas, including Waugoshance Point Target, were no longer needed. The property was declared eligible for the FUDS program in June of 2007, said Nick Stolte, a munitions response subject matter expert with USACE’s Environmental and Munitions Center of Expertise located in Huntsville, Alabama. Following the authorization of the Military Munitions Response Program in the spring of 2010, a preliminary assessment was completed with the recommendation of a remedial investigation.
According to Stolte, no munitions and explosives of concern were observed.
“No munitions have been discovered, but we did find a small amount of munitions debris,” Stolte said. “Based on the results of the RI, there is no evidence that high explosive munitions were used. All evidence suggests that only practice bombs were used.”
Therefore, USACE’s recommendation was no further action as no unacceptable risk was found at Waugoshance Point, Temperance Island, Waugoshance Island and the old Waugoshance Lighthouse, Brancato said.
Completing the remedial investigation did not come easy, though. It took time, effort, patience and expertise.
“The biggest challenge was the marine environment and weather. Collecting geophysical data underwater is always difficult, but it was especially difficult in this part of the country,” Stolte said. “In the Mackinaw Straight, we frequently encountered high winds and waves that made data collection tedious and sometimes impossible.”
Brancato added the team had to adjust and delay investigations because of lake conditions and to not impact seasonal boaters.
Even with a few barriers that manifested, the project is tracking an early completion.
“The success of this project is due to the teamwork and coordination among the District, the Military Munitions Design Center, the contractor, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Great Lakes and Energy,” Stolte said.
With the remedial investigation complete, the public will be afforded an opportunity to comment on the Corps’ recommendation of no further action, and the project is slated for completion in the fall of 2020.