A contentious legal battle over a dam on the Pigeon River will drag on.
The dam failed twice in the last few decades and killed hundreds of thousands of trout in the Pigeon River near Vanderbilt.
After lengthy negotiations, the state was set to allow Golden Lotus Yoga Retreat to remove the main part of the dam so no future failures could occur. But a judge has now sided with angler groups and ruled the entire Golden Lotus Dam must be removed. And a lengthy court battle is now likely.
Golden Lotus wants to leave parts of the structure in place to support a bridge that runs across the top of the dam. But Michigan Trout Unlimited Executive Director Bryan Burroughs says his group never OK'd leaving part of the dam in place. The group is a party to the court settlement to remove the dam, along with the state and Golden Lotus.
"Our agreement was for dam removal," he says. "There's no way you can construe leaving the bottom and the sides of the dam in place as dam removal."
Trout Unlimited says leaving the sides and the bottom of the dam in place would make the river too fast at that spot for most fish to swim upstream.
The attorney for Golden Lotus says any chance for dam removal is now years away because his client plans to appeal.
Attorney Bill Schlecte says the yoga retreat can't afford to remove the entire structure.
"It doesn't have that kind of money," he says. "It can't do it. That was the whole purpose for entering into the Interim Order."
Under the settlement agreement, Golden Lotus agreed to remove the dam in return for avoiding some financial penalties for degrading a stretch of the river.