- Associated Press - Monday, April 6, 2015

SAUGATUCK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - The state wants to limit the times of year when dredging is allowed in part of southwestern Michigan to protect lake sturgeon, officials announced Monday.

The Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Environmental Quality plan a public meeting April 20 at Saugatuck Township Hall to discuss dredging windows for Kalamazoo Lake and the Kalamazoo River aimed at protecting the threatened species.

Kalamazoo Lake is an important area for adult sturgeon migrating up the Kalamazoo River to spawn, officials said, and the lake also provides excellent habitat for juvenile sturgeon.

“The goal of this program is to open the lines of communication among the community, business owners and contractors on ways to protect lake sturgeon and their habitat,” Jay Wesley, DNR fisheries unit manager, said in a statement. “This protection effort will dovetail nicely with our other Kalamazoo River lake sturgeon rehabilitation efforts.”

The proposal would limit dredging between March 15 and June 30 to protect adult lake sturgeon and between Sept. 1 and Dec. 15 to protect juvenile sturgeon.

The DNR and DEQ noted, however, that they recognize the need to conduct dredging projects. If a dredging project needs to be completed within a no-dredging window, the state will discuss safeguards and work to determine whether lake sturgeon habitat is affected.

“These windows are meant to guide dredge operations on the best times to do so when lake sturgeon are less vulnerable,” the DNR said.

Sturgeon can grow to about 8 feet, weigh 200 pounds and live for 150 years. They once were abundant in the Great Lakes region and are the subject of decades-long restoration efforts.

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