Mark Totten, the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Michigan, announced Wednesday that 62-year-old Andrew Howard, of Frankfort, has been charged with one count of tampering and one count of vandalism.
“These allegations of tampering and vandalism by a man-made diversion of water at Platte River are disturbing,” Totten said in a statement. “The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the Great Lakes are national gems, and my office takes preserving our natural treasures very seriously.”
The incident came in the wake of a debate over the river. According to a report from northern Michigan affiliate 9&10 News, the National Park Service decided to stop dredging the Platte River in 2017. Many people opposed the decision, saying it was difficult for boats and rescue vessels to get through.
Scott Tucker, the superintendent of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, told 9&10 News that the decision to stop dredging allowed the river to return to its natural state.
“By not dredging the mouth of the Platte, it lets nature be nature. It allows the mouth of the Platte to meander as it has historically for thousands of years, and it allows the natural resources to be on their own terms,” Tucker said.
If convicted, Howard could face up to six months in jail, a $5,000 fine and five years of probation.