Muskegon – Sawmill debris from Michigan’s early logging era is being removed from Muskegon Lake as part of a long-term environmental cleanup project.

Work began recently to retrieve almost 123,000 tons of wood dumped into the lake by 47 mills that operated there during the 1800s. It’s expected to continue through September.

The Muskegon Chronicle reports the goal is to restore habitat for fish, including the endangered lake sturgeon.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is funding the $2.8 million project through a partnership with the Great Lakes Commission.

It will restore 11.4 acres of open water and emergent wetlands.

Kathy Evans of the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission says the cleanup will boost a multi-year effort to get Muskegon Lake off a list of the Great Lakes region’s most highly polluted sites.

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