Great Lakes Fishery and Ecosystem Restoration Program

Great Lakes Fishery Commission

Gay Stamp Sands

Habitat Restoration (Keweenaw County, MI)

Project Description Gay Stamp Sands

As a result of extensive copper mining, contaminated stamp sands (coarse sand left over from the processing of ore) cover a large portion of the Keweenaw Peninsula. The stamp sands deposit of particular concern is estimated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Detroit District to cover 1,426 acres of shoreline and lake bottom lands. The deposit’s movement along the southeast shoreline of the Keweenaw Peninsula to Grand Traverse Bay Harbor is threatening the nearby Buffalo Reef, a productive lake trout and whitefish spawning area, and the shoreline south of the Traverse River. In addition, toxicity testing indicates that the stamp sands have an injurious effect on aquatic organisms. The Lakewide Management Plan 2000 identified stamp sands as a principal stress to the aquatic habitat of Lake Superior.

Nonfederal Partner

  • TBD

Congressional Interest

  • Senator Carl Levin (D-MI)
  • Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
  • Representative Dan Benishek (R-MI-1)

Current Status

A preliminary restoration plan has been initiated and will be completed by March 2011. Upon approval, the District will initiate a feasibility study using Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funds. The Corps Waterways Experiment Station has partnered with Michigan Technological University to map the extent and movement of the stamp sands. The USACE will be collecting samples of the stamp sands in the spring to conduct tests of methods to stabilize and reduce toxicity of the stamp sands.


Total Federal Nonfederal
Current working estimate $7,200,000 $4,680,000 $2,520,000
Funding to date $150,000 $150,000 $0
Funds required to complete project $7,050,000 $4,530,000 $2,520,000


Project Manager

Carl A. Platz
(616) 842-5510 x25521

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of this project summary sheet.