Ice jams in the Rifle River in Deep River Twp., Mich., that caused flooding in late February are gone, but the effects of the jams remain — the latest being a several-yards-long log jam about 500 yards south of Townline Road.
The river takes a sharp turn east and a sandbar rises above the water in the river at the site of the log jam, according to The Arenac County Independent. Bob Russell, the owner of Russell’s Canoes and Crystal Creek Campground, said the sandbar is where the log jam appears to have originated.
Russell said last year a log jam caused ice to jam up, though not as severely as the flooding in February, and that freeing up the log jams could probably reduce the ice jams.
“Last year’s log jam was close to where this one was, about a mile and a half downstream,” he said.
“If that jam would’ve been cleaned out of there, I doubt if we would’ve had the same results,” Russell said. “It’s the same thing with this one.”
Emergency Management Coordinator Ed Rohn said Russell contacted him regarding the jam. Rohn said he reached out to Todd Golebiewski, the owner of River View Campground in Sterling, to see if he would obtain aerial photos and videos of the jam. Rohn said he has contacted several agencies in regards to figuring out how the county can clear the jam.
“I’ve spoken with the county drain commissioner, the Department of Natural Resources, the road commission and the (Department of Environmental Quality) so far,” he said. “According to the DEQ it can be removed, but permits are required, and I believe where it’s located, access will need to be granted by the landowners to allow someone to get equipment there to remove the jam.”
“I think it’s probably going to take a contractor and the appropriate permits from the DEQ,” Rohn said. “I’m working to get someone appointed to head up the project.”
Rohn said log jams are nothing new on the Rifle River, but added the flooding likely played a role in this particular jam.
“This is basically an everyday annual occurrence,” he said. “You could probably go the length of that river every day and find ones that are quite similar. In recent years with the ash trees dying, there are a lot of them on the banks. I believe the recent high water pulled a lot of them into the river from the banks.”
Until the log jam is moved, Rohn said it will continue to get bigger and gather more debris.
“As long as it remains there it’s going to continue to catch debris coming down the river and build in size,” he said.
Photos show canoes and tubes, tires, rubber balls and other debris caught up in the log jam.
“The jam is full of river debris from this winter’s flooding,” Golebiewski said. “Pieces of one of my equipment sheds that was washed away are lodged in the jam, along with about 30 of my rental flotation cushions, river tubes and canoe paddles, which were in the shed when the river took it.”
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