Stamp Sands Keweenaw Peninsula
Project Title
Understanding the impacts of legacy copper mining activities on Lake Trout and Whitefish spawning habitats along the eastern side of the Keweenaw Peninsula.
Project Code
Project Duration
August 2019 - June 2022
Project Description
Legacy copper mining activities around Lake Superior resulted in the disposal of hundreds of millions of tonnes of stamp sand (i.e., remnants of the mechanical breakdown of ores) along shoreline habitats. Among the most conspicuous deposits, the Grand Traverse Bay shoreline along the Keweenaw Peninsula’s eastern shore received 22.7 million metric tonnes (Mt) of stamp sand material between 1902 and 1932. Since that time, an estimated 11.5 Mt of stamp sands have migrated southwards into Grand Traverse Bay and covered approximately 35% of Buffalo Reef, which is recognized as critically important spawning and nursery habitat for lake trout Salvelinus namaycush and lake whitefish Coregonus cluepaformis populations that support valuable tribal commercial and subsistence fisheries and state recreational fisheries in this region. By 2025, stamp sand is expected to inundate >60% of the 2200-acre reef. As a result, the Buffalo Reef Task Force, which consists of tribal, federal, and state agencies, is currently considering several alternatives for containing stamp sand erosion and restoring valuable reef habitat. However, both the extent to which and the mechanisms of how stamp sands affect lake trout and lake whitefish spawning remain unclear.
Management Benefits
Participating Organizations