A public meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 20 at the Benona Township Hall, 7169 W Baker Rd, Shelby, at 6 p.m. to present the Stony Creek/Marshville Dam Project to the community and to seek their input.
The West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission (WMSRDC), under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission Regional Partnership for the Lake Michigan Rivers and Coastal Wetlands Restoration Project and the Conservation Resource Alliance under multiple funding programs are working with Oceana County Road Commission, Oceana County Parks and Recreation, Grand Valley State University Annis Water Resources Institute, and GEI Consultants Inc. on fish and wildlife habitat restoration and fish passage improvements in Stony Creek at the former Marshville Dam site in Oceana County.
Marshville Dam County Park, on Stony Creek, Benona Township, originated as part of a local fisherman’s club, the Marshville Improvement Corporation. Marshville gained its name from George Marsh, who in 1861 built a sawmill, and two years later a grist mill at this location. An earthen berm and log dam were also built, forming a large backwater, which provided power for the operations and a means of transporting logs to the mill. The dam eventually gave way in the early 1900s, but the ‘old timers’ remembered the fantastic fishing the pond provided. Their stories of giant ‘speckled trout’ inspired local anglers to purchase the mill flowage rights hoping to “furnish an ideal fishing spot and a place for the propagation of brook trout.” Stock certificates were sold, providing funding, and volunteers constructed the concrete dam in 1927. This provided a large pond and a beautiful spawning area for brown and brook trout in its cool waters. Marshville’s angling fame spread quickly throughout the state. However, in 1970, the earthen berm was undercut by vandals and the pond waters emptied through the narrow opening damaging the support wing and the berm, completely emptying the pond. In 1976, the one-lane bridge was abandoned, and a new road was built over Stony Creek, covering the stone riffles which were so coveted by fly fishers.
The proposed project will remove the dam remnants, the abandoned one-lane bridge, and three road culverts. An open span timber bridge will span the creek. Additionally, recreational access to the stream will be improved, the riparian corridor restored, and fish habitat will be enhanced. This will result in 6.5 miles of stream access to fish passage.