FIRST, A LITTLE HISTORY ABOUT THE “CUT”, REFERRED TO BY SOME AS THE “SMALL BOAT CHANNEL” BETWEEN GRASSY ISLAND AND THE CULLEN PARK CAUSEWAY.
HOW DID THE “CUT”, GET BUILT IN THE FIRST PLACE?
When Grassy Island construction was complete, the causeway used to get materials to it was not removed. Instead, a cut was made between Grassy Island and the causeway so that small boats could access the Maumee Bay without going into Lake Erie. This is why the access is referred to locally as the “Cut”, which is a much more accurate term than “Channel”.
WHY IS THE CUT SO IMPORTANT?
The Cut is important because it provides direct access between the Western end of the Maumee Bay and the Maumee River at the mouth of the River. It is also the route boaters use to get from the Cullen Park Boat launch to the Maumee Bay, Ottawa River, and Woodtick Peninsula, where a lot of boaters hang out together in the summer. Without this access, boaters would need to go out into the lake to reach a safe place to enter and exit the shipping channel.
WHY WOULD BOATERS HAVE TO GO INTO THE LAKE IF THE CUT IS CLOSED OFF? CAN’T THEY JUST GO ON THE OTHER SIDE OF GRASSY ISLAND?
When the shipping channel was moved from the curved channel running through the bay to the current straight channel, the materials removed from the lake bed were piled along the side of the channel. Years ago they formed small islands that grew trees and other vegetation and provided the Western end of the Maumee Bay with protection from the powerful waves that can come in from the lake. Over the years, the islands eroded and now form navigational hazards because they are not visible above the water. Unless one goes far enough into the lake to clear these hazards there is a significant risk of running aground.
Without the Cut, if boaters want to go from the Ottawa River or Woodtick peninsula to the Cullen Park boat launch or Maumee River and vice versa, boaters will have to go out into the into the lake to to safely make the trip. This added distance canadd up to an hour and a half in time and at least $30 in gas for those in boats that can make it. Those in small boats, wave runners, canoes, kayaks, and water bikes will not be able to make the trip at all due to the higher waves that are found in Lake Erie.
HOW HAS THE CUT STAYED OPEN AND NAVIGABLE SINCE THE 1960’S WITHOUT NEEDING ANY MAINTENANCE OR DREDGING?
The Cut is able to remain open and navigable because of the way the Maumee River is forced through it. When the river hits Grassy Island it is split into 2 flows: one that continues down the river and one that is sent through the small boat channel into the Maumee Bay.
The force of the river going through the channel is so strong that it doesn’t allow any sediment to accumulate at the bottom.
THE WETLANDS WILL TURN THE CUT INTO A LONG NARROW CHANNEL THAT, ULTIMATELY, WILL BECOME UNNAVIGABLE.
WHY, AT THE PUBLIC MEETINGS, DID IT SOUND LIKE THEY WEREN’T GOING TO CHANGE THE CUT?
During the public meeting the necessity and importance of the Cut was acknowledged and the public was assured that “a route will be maintained for boats to navigate between the Ottawa
and Maumee Rivers.” Understandably, most of the public missed the distinction between “a route” being maintained and “the route” being maintained. “The route” would be the Cut, which will not be maintained. The long, straight, narrow channel the wetlands will create is “a route” that will replace the Cut. It is also a route that will not stay open and navigable without maintenance and dredging and a route that will create a dangerous navigational hazard.
IF THE CUT NEVER NEEDED DREDGING, WHY WILL THE NEW CHANNEL NEED DREDGING?
As explained above, the Cut never needed dredging because it was perfectly placed so that the flow of the river going through it would prevent sediment accumulation. The wetlands will divert the flow away from the new channel and what is not diverted will be slowed so much that sediment will settle out of it into the new channel. Without the full force of the river sweeping the sediment away, it will accumulate at the bottom and slowly fill the channel until ceases being navigable.
WHY WOULD ANYONE ASSUME THE NEW CHANNEL WON’T BE DREDGED WHEN NECESSARY TO MAINTAIN NAVIGATION?
Past history shows us that we cannot rely on ODNR or the Port Authority to dredge local channels to keep them navigable for small boats. One need only look at the channel from the Cullen Park boat launch to the shipping channel for proof of this.
The channel from the launch to the shipping channel is necessary. Without it, boats cannot get from the boat launch to the river. Years ago, when this channel filled with sediment, boats could not get from the boat launch to the river during low water. If water levels dropped after a boat went out, the boat couldn’t always get back to the launch.
Despite the fact that it was becoming completely unnavigable, the channel was not voluntarily dredged; not by ODNR, not by the Port, and not by the City of Toledo. It was not dredged until Visions of Cullen Park was formed and its members spent a lot of time and hard work raising money to help pay for the dredging and convincing public officials to do the dredging.
If neither ODNR nor the Port Authority would voluntarily maintain and dredge a channel that is necessary for small boat navigation, how can they be relied on to maintain and dredge a channel that is something they see as merely a convenient shortcut for small boats? The answer is: They can’t.
HOW WILL THE NEW CHANNEL CAUSE A DANGEROUS NAVIGATIONAL HAZARD?
It will cause a dangerous navigational hazard by creating extensive blind spots. One side of the channel will be Grassy Island, which already obstructs view to the east of the Cut. The other side will be the high rock wall of the Grassy Island Wetland and it will obstruct the view in the other direction. This results in large blind spots for those going into and out of the channel, unnecessarily increasing the risks of collision. You don’t have to be a boater to know that, unlike cars, boats don’t have brakes and many can’t make sudden sharp turns to avoid collisions.
This channel will also prevent people from using their kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards in the Maumee Bay. Currently they can launch at Cullen Park and go through the Cut because: 1) it is much wider than the new channel will be and 2) the western side of the Cut is too shallow for boats, allowing kayakers, canoers, and paddle boarders can go from the boat launch to the bay without the risk of getting run over by larger boats that may not see them.
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