The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has announced alternate winter access points to Lake Michigan at two locations in Delta County.
The DNR boat launch sites at Kipling on Little Bay de Noc and at the mouth of the Ford River on Green Bay are open for ice fishing and vehicles may enter the area. However, vehicles are not allowed on the boat launch ramps.
“The Kipling boating access site has an alternate access point designated for winter Lake Michigan access,” said Jeff Kakuk, DNR parks and recreation unit supervisor at the Escanaba Field Office. “Ford River winter access is available on either side of the existing boat ramp.”
Winter vehicle traffic on a concrete launch ramp can cause damage by driving frost deep under the plank.
“When the frost melts in the spring, the combination of ice movement and frost can push, pull or heave the ramp plank,” Kakuk said. “This typically occurs below the water level. Closure of the ramps is intended to protect the plank from frost damage and maintain a quality access for the boating public.”
In July 2014, the ramp at the Kipling boating access site was replaced at a cost of $37,200. The Ford River ramp was replaced in a $24,000 project in 2006. The lake bottom around both launches was dredged. About $1,500 in park funding was used to develop the ice fishing access at Kipling.
Both of the ramp replacement projects were funded through the Michigan Waterways Fund, a restricted fund derived from boat registration fees and the Michigan marine fuel tax, which is used for the construction, operation and maintenance of recreational boating facilities, harbors and inland waterways.
Lake Michigan is home to an outstanding fishery, popular with anglers year-round.
DNR officials remind anglers that being on a frozen body of water is inherently dangerous. Check out a list of DNR winter ice safety tips.