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Frankfort man convicted for diverting Platte River

The mouth of the Platte River on a sunny day. The photo shows a fork in the river that was not there prior to the illegal diversion.
Teresa Homsi
/
WCMU
Following the "illegal diversion" in Mid-August, the Platte River has a new channel that drains into Lake Michigan. This photo, taken two weeks after the change, shows a fork in the river that was not there prior to the diversion.

A federal court has convicted a Frankfort man for illegally diverting the Platte River at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Andrew Blair Howard, 63, was found guilty of tampering and vandalism, which are federal misdemeanors.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office,Howard used a shovel to dig a trench at the mouth of the Platte and stacked rocks to divert the river's flow.

Within days of the August 2022 incident, the original channel of the Platte stagnated, and a new 200-foot-wide channel appeared.

"Mr. Howard had a policy dispute with the National Park Service and took matters into his own hands, breaking the law rather than using lawful means to advocate for his position," U.S. Attorney Mark Totten said in a statement.

In his ruling, federal Magistrate Judge Ray Kent said Howard, "intended to and in fact did divert the flow of the Platte River."

The National Park Service has been working for several years to undo the impacts of historical dredging at Platte Point. The NPS has not yet publicly announced plans to restore the river channel, following the incident.

Teresa Homsi is an environmental reporter and Report for America Corps Member based in northern Michigan for WCMU. She covers rural environmental issues, focused on contamination, conservation, and climate change.
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