Kawkawlin River Shoal: Supporting Coastal Resilience (DRAFT PAGE)

Sedimentation at the Kawkawlin River mouth requires regular dredging to keep the channel open and safe for boats.

Site: Kawkawlin River Mouth

Project: Build 1,600-foot [about 2-acre?] nearshore fish spawning reef north of river mouth

  • Primary focus: Decrease frequency of dredging
  • Secondary focus: Increase diversity of fish habitat

Project status (as of March 2024): Design and development

Why here?

  • Modeling shows reduction in sediment entering the recreational navigation channel, reducing long-term dredging costs.
  • Reef could help reduce shoreline impact from exposure to wind and waves.
  • Structure would have a low risk of getting covered by sediment.
  • Healthy fish populations and diverse habitats are key to a strong, resilient Saginaw Bay
  • Site was identified through bottom mapping, sediment sampling, and computer models of wind, wave, and sediment movement.
  • Reef would promote successful spawning for multiple native fish species.


  • Pursue opportunities that incorporate coastal resilience and fish habitat needs.
  • Provide shoreline communities with protection and buffering from the impacts of flooding, erosion, and coastal habitat loss.
  • Improve habitats for fish and wildlife species for Saginaw Bay.
  • Work with communities to generate shared vision, support and buy-in.


  • 2023: Partners hosted a community workshop to gather input from local stakeholders


How does dredging currently affect nearby communities?

Reference current dredging costs/frequency/funding source 

Will boating navigation at the Kawkawlin mouth be affected?

It is possible that the reef may pose a navigation risk to deep draft vessels when the bay is at low water conditions. Information is being gathered to understand exactly how far under the water surface the reef may be under different water levels. If constructed, the reef will be marked for navigation similar to how the mouth of the Kawkawlin River is currently marked.

Will current beaches be affected by the Kawkawlin River mouth sediment reef?

Additional information is being gathered to estimate the changes in deposition patterns down-drift from sediments deflected by the reef as identified in the stakeholder workshop.

Will the need to dredge be reduced at the Kawkawlin River mouth?

The estimated changes in sediment deposit and the subsequent changes to dredging frequency are being estimated as identified in the stakeholder workshop.

Will there be obstructions to using the beaches?

Additional feasibility work will determine all measurable impacts. No restrictions to beach use are anticipated.

Who will pay for these projects?

A variety of grant funds from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation– Coastal Resilience Program, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Dow Chemical Natural Resources Damage Assessment will be used to fund feasibility, and construction of feasible options identified.