The Clinton River Cut-Off DNR boat launch site is closed until October to move the launch ramp and make other improvements to the site.

The Clinton River Cut-Off DNR boat launch site is closed until October to move the launch ramp and make other improvements to the site.

Photo by Dean Vaglia

Clinton River boat launch closed until fall

By: Dean Vaglia | Mount Clemens-Clinton-Harrison Journal | Published July 13, 2022


HARRISON TOWNSHIP — The Clinton River Cut-Off boat launch will be closed until later this fall, according to a statement by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Located beside the Clinton River Spillway and run by the DNR, the Lake St. Clair access point has been closed since May to address unusable ramp conditions.

“That particular boat launch is (a) very popular access to Lake St. Clair, and over the years, we have had difficulties with the Clinton River that comes down adjacent to it,” said Ron Olson, DNR chief of parks and recreation. “The way the water flows, it swirls back and deposits silt that comes down the river into and … right in front of the boat launch. So when you try to launch your boat after either a heavy rain or something that triggers the flow, the debris gets there and you can’t launch your boat, which requires us to dredge the front of it.”

Faced with the debris constantly impeding the ramp, the DNR decided to move the ramp closer to the spillway under the impression it will not fill up as often. Other changes that will be made to the Clinton River Cut-Off include parking lot improvements, filling in the old ramp location and building a storm refuge for boats on the lake.

Kenneth Verkest, Harrison Township supervisor, noted that one of the contributing factors to the boat launch being regularly blocked was the nuisance algae Lyngbya and that the township is working with groups like the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to study the algae.

“It seems like there is a die-off every year and that debris washes up on shore and creates havoc in certain areas of our lake,” Verkest said.

Outside of the debris itself, Verkest is happy the work is being done to the Clinton River Cut-Off site and that the launch being closed for so long is something to be highly concerned about.

“It’s certainly an inconvenience for some, but it’s (the) cost of progress,” Verkest said. “I think when all is said and done, the improvements will be good for the region, as well as our residents ,and that it will be worth the sacrifice. It is tough to do a project so big without shutting down and inconveniencing for a while — not unlike, I suppose, road repairs and the hassles that come with that.”

Olson says the project is currently in the demolition phase and is on track to finish by October “barring any obstacles or unforeseen things that may pop up.”

Until October, boaters can access Lake St. Clair from the Selfridge and Harley Ensign boat launches. Lake St. Clair Metropark also has a boat launch and two marinas.