Conservation Resource Alliance
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Category: River Care Projects
Spring Update on Chestonia Bridge on the Jordan River
CRA and partners kicked off the 2017 construction season in February with Chestonia Bridge on the Jordan River. The Antrim County Road Commission’s contractor began construction on Old State Road and hopes to wrap up mid-summer. Michigan DNR and partners also hosted a public open house in East Jordan to provide information and gather input regarding recreational access at the site.
Momentum on the Pere Marquette
CRA is advancing its holistic approach to improving coldwater aquatic habitats in the Pere Marquette River Watershed with a series of four projects on Sanborn Creek. Supported by a generous $850,000 grant through the Sustain Our Great Lakes program, CRA and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation are generating an immediate economic stimulus for this region through projects that will generate long-term ecological benefits.
2017 Seedling Give-A-Way for Members
We’d like to say thank you for being a CRA member with our annual free seedling give-a-way. Anyone who has made a donation to CRA in the last year is eligible.

We have a limited number of free seedlings – early reservations are encouraged. Seedlings must be ordered in bundles of 25* with a limit of 50 of any one species. Limit 150 total seedlings per household. Orders will be taken through April 10 or while supplies last.
The Boardman: A River Reborn Rallies Support
Traverse City, MI – Partners are rallying support for a very big two years on the Boardman River including the removal of Boardman Dam this year and the removal of Sabin Dam in 2018. Rotary Charities of Traverse City is leading efforts to engage private investments for Sabin Dam removal through foundation grants, private donations and other non- public sources. As a result, partners are pleased to share the announcement of two new major grants to support the removal of Sabin Dam, the third dam targeted in The Boardman: A River Reborn.
Construction News and Open House for Chestonia Bridge on the Jordan River
CRA and partners are kicking off the 2017 construction season with Chestonia Bridge on the Jordan River. The Antrim County Road Commission will begin construction on Old State Rd on February 27. Michigan DNR is hosting a public open house on Monday, March 6 from 4-7pm at the East Jordan High School Community Auditorium (101 Maple Street, East Jordan, MI 49727) to provide information and gather input regarding the conceptual design of a recreational access at the Chestonia Bridge site.
Public Open House - Chestonia Bridge over Jordan River
East Jordan, Michigan – Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) is hosting a public open house on Monday, March 6, 2017 from 4-7 pm at the Community Auditorium of East Jordan High School at 101 Maple Street, East Jordan, MI 49727. MDNR staff will be on hand to provide information and gather input regarding the preliminary, conceptual design of a future recreational access at the Chestonia Bridge site where Old State Road crosses the Jordan River.
Good News on the Maple River
We are feeling the love in Emmet County – CRA and partners are gearing up for a very busy couple of years on the Maple River. Our team is excited to share the Holton family recently purchased the property where Lake Kathleen Dam sits. We are very much looking forward to working toward our shared conservation goals including the removal of the dam in 2018 and replacing two of the most severe crossings in the watershed.
Construction Set for Chestonia Bridge on the Jordan River
Mancelona, Michigan - Chestonia Bridge over the Jordan River at Old State Road & Cokirs Creek Box Culvert Crossing to Begin! Antrim County Road Commission (ACRC) will begin construction of a new Chestonia Bridge on Old State Rd over the Jordan River on February 27, 2017. This project will require a portion of the road be closed to all traffic. A detour route will be signed. Traffic can expect to resume use of this portion of Old State Road in early July 2017, with the exact date to be posted on the ACRC website.
Jordan River HomeWaters – Fall Update
CRA is looking forward to construction of Chestonia Bridge on Old State Rd. This project has been in the works for several years and marks a major milestone in a free flowing Jordan River. The current double 16’ wide culverts that sit where Old State Road crosses the Jordan River are slated for removal next year.
Restoring Sanborn Creek and the Headwaters of the Pere Marquette River
The Pere Marquette River Restoration Committee and partners are working to connect all of Sanborn Creek, a major tributary to the Pere Marquette River. Complete stream connectivity means the critters that live in and near the creek can travel from the headwaters to the confluence without major obstructions, such as undersized culverts or dams. To reach this goal, the committee will be helping organize a range of activities.
Turn Over a New Leaf
It’s amazing what you’ll find out there. Just ask David Mifsud or “Turtle Dave” who spent a week on the Boardman River doing a herpetological survey.

“We found some great stuff out there including a juvenile milk snake. It’s been dry which means our crew has to work a little harder but we got a great start,” he noted.

Reptiles and amphibians are very sensitive to environmental changes; they tell you a lot about what’s happening in the environment around them.
Spring Update on the Carp & Maple Rivers
Last year, we reported the West Branch of the Maple River in Emmet County, Michigan was officially “free.” Water from the headwaters now flows unrestricted all the way to the confluence with the East Branch. To make this happen, CRA and partners replaced four road/stream crossings with appropriately sized structures including three timber bridges. We have our sights set next on the Maple River mainstem where Brutus Road crosses the river. We are breaking ground this year to replace these three culverts with a timber bridge.
Northern Michigan Watersheds Receive Big Boost from Michigan DNR Grants
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has approved six Aquatic Habitat Grant Program projects totaling $1.25 million. This is the third round of projects since the program began in 2014. It is funded annually by a portion of fishing and hunting license sales. Traverse City based Conservation Resource Alliance (CRA) has been awarded two of the grant awards from the current funding cycle, $430,000 for their Free Span the Maple River Initiative in Emmet County, and $200,000 for the Bridging the Jordan River Restoration Project in Antrim County.
Conserving the Beaver Island Archipelago - Final Reports
We are pleased to present the results of ecological restoration efforts led by Conservation Resource Alliance throughout the Beaver Island archipelago from 2013 to 2015. This work was made possible through a generous grant from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation’s Sustain Our Great Lakes Program.
Nature Change – Conversations About Conservation and Climate
If most of the ash trees are dead, beech trees are dying and new pests are approaching Michigan’s hemlock and maple trees, what will our northern forests look like in the years ahead? Will the changing climate affect what grows to replace the lost trees? And how does all this change impact the birds and animals that populate the beautiful landscapes of northwest lower Michigan?

These are topics that all of us in northwest lower Michigan need to think and talk about. And that’s why six of the region’s leading conservation nonprofits have banded together to launch a new on-line, multimedia magazine called Nature Change – Conversations About Conservation and Climate.

 
Winter Work on the Little Manistee
In early February, CRA was back out on the Little Manistee River to install additional instream habitat. Joined by CRA’s partners Kanouse Outdoor Restoration and InterFluve, we were able to get some great work done while the ground was still frozen.
Regional Conservation Partnership Program
Funds from the Farm Bill’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program are coming to Northern Michigan to improve water quality and protect wildlife habitat. A collaborative led by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians was recently awarded $7.9 million that will be matched 1:1 to bring innovative approaches connecting key Farm Bill programs with locally-designed conservation work.
Seedling Give-A-Way for Members

We’d like to say thank you for being a CRA member with our annual free seedling give-a-way sponsored by ITC Holdings Corp. Anyone who has made a donation to CRA in the last year is eligible. We have a limited number of free seedlings – early reservations are encouraged. Seedlings must be ordered in bundles of 25* with a limit of 50 of any one species. Limit 200 total seedlings per household. Orders will be taken through April 8 or while supplies last. Please order via email to casey@rivercare.org or mail to 10850 Traverse Hwy, Suite 1180, Traverse City, MI 49684.

Happenings on Syers Creek & the Little Manistee River Watershed
If you happen to run across Syers Creek, tucked away in Lake County, you'll find a high quality coldwater stream with great habitat for brook trout and mottled sculpin. Follow this Little Manistee River tributary far enough upstream however, and you may find a dry streambed caused by a sand berm dam. Created to provide vehicle access to adjacent private lands, the 120' long and 6' high berm restricts movement of aquatic species, increases sedimentation and elevates water temperatures.
Maple River HomeWaters Update - Fall 2015 - West Branch Liberated
We added another beautiful timber bridge in Emmet County to our list of free-spanning structures on the Maple River this year. When traveling over the eastern crossing of Robinson Road and the West Branch of the Maple River, you’ll now see a 36’ wide 66’ long timber bridge.
Patagonia Supports CRA
Each year, Patagonia pledges 1% of their sales to the protection and restoration of the natural environment. They call it their Earth Tax. This year, they identified 741 grassroots environmental groups in 18 countries and gave them $6.2 million in cash to do important work to restore rivers and forests, stop mines, protect endangered wildlife and habitat, and mitigate the effects of climate change. CRA is proud to be among the list making a difference in Michigan.
Sustain Our Great Lakes Awards $5.7 Million in Grants

Sustain Our Great Lakes partners announced 20 projects selected to receive more than $5.7 million in grant funding for ecological restoration in the Great Lakes basin. With a focus on restoring coastal wetland habitat and improving the quality and connectivity of stream and riparian habitat, this investment will help protect, restore, and enhance the ecological integrity of the Great Lakes and surrounding region. Grant recipients will match the new funding with an additional $7 million, for a total on-the-ground impact of $12.7 million.

The Big Picture in Benzie County

Updated June 30: Over the last six years, we’ve implemented three major phases of work in Benzie County. This is the first time we’ve condensed all these projects onto one map. CRA is proud to say this is some of the most effective work we’ve ever done in terms of having a high impact on our water and getting the most out of every dollar. You can see for yourself just how much work we’ve completed in these gorgeous rivers.

Some Like it Cold – Conserving Coldwater Habitat

From the big open water of our Great Lakes to the secluded creeks of our headwaters, we are lucky to have a vast array of freshwater habitats. Some fish like bass, whitefish and pike thrive in our big lakes. Others like our brook trout depend on our coldwater streams. Keeping these habitats in balance is critical for a diverse fishery.

The Big Three of 2015

This year, we have three multi-year initiatives in the spotlight with The Boardman: A River Reborn, Free Spanning the Maple River and the Jordan River Chestonia Bridge. These projects include a significant amount of fundraising, genuine partner collaboration and determination on the part of our staff and board to see them through. We are eager to see the next phases unfold on these remarkable journeys to free our waters.

Good News for Manton Creek

Since the removal of the Manton Millpond Dam in 2011, Manton Creek has undergone a remarkable transformation. The Michigan DNR highlighted this change in a recently released Status of the Fishery Resource Report for Manton Creek. The shallow, warm waters of the historical Millpond have been replaced by a cool, rushing stream with an outstanding trout population.

Outdoor Business Gives Back to Michigan

The Conservation Alliance, a group of outdoor industry companies, recently announced the results of their Winter 2015 funding cycle. They contributed $800,000 to 24 organizations including CRA! The $30,000 grant is helping us achieve our mission to free span the Maple River.

Maple River HomeWaters Update - Spring 2015

The goal in the Maple River Watershed, a high quality coldwater system, is 100% connectivity – a rare and challenging opportunity. The main stem flows roughly 23 miles in Emmet County before flowing into Burt Lake and the Cheboygan River Watershed. Like many northern Michigan rivers, historic logging, agricultural practices, and transportation development have left an impact over the last century. This initiative provides a unique chance for fish and wildlife to access over 40 miles of aquatic habitat, including the main stem and its tributaries, completely unrestricted.

Bridges are Great – Bugs are Better

Do full span bridges and culverts improve water quality? In the case of the Maple River, the proof is in the pudding thanks to the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. Since 2001, their staff has been monitoring the West Branch of the Maple River every other year. They track aquatic macroinvertebrates, phosphorus, dissolved oxygen, temperature, pH and more.

Biological Surveys of Northwest Lower Peninsula Streams Now Available

Biological and physical habitat conditions of northwest Lower Peninsula streams in Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, and Leelanau Counties were assessed by Michigan DEQ Surface Water Assessment Section staff.

Michigan Amphibian and Reptile Best Management Practices

The Michigan Amphibian and Reptile Best Management Practices was created for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to provide a comprehensive guide to Best Management Practices (BMPs) that improve and maintain the viability of Michigan amphibian and reptile populations.

Upper Manistee River Restoration Project Report Released

This report provides an overview of the Upper Manistee River Restoration project. Two overarching goals defined this project: Habitat restoration on the 1,720 acre Flowing Well Trout Farm property and replacement of the most severe, habitat degrading road/stream crossing on the Manistee River’s North Branch on Mecum Road. Located in rural Kalkaska County in northern Michigan, this project was completed over a five year period with the help of many dedicated partners and funders.

 

Removing Barriers

CRA emphasizes real, tangible results. We spend a lot of time in the field managing projects that have a clear impact on our land and water. When we sit down at the end of the year, it’s great to look back at the quality and quantity of work we were able to accomplish and 2014 did not disappoint.

Little Betsie & Nessen Road Timber Bridge

The Nessen road/stream crossing, site #B-12, was an aging concrete bottomless box structure approximately 7½ feet wide over the Little Betsie River. The extremely narrow width created an unnaturally large scour pool downstream and increased velocity flows at the outlet. In addition large amounts of gravel from the roadway were being inputted into the stream along with crumbling material from the structure itself. Through this project partners designed and completed the installation of a 14’ wide, 22’ span timber bridge that accommodates the natural stream channel and allows the natural movement of substrate, fish and wildlife. Paved approaches and spillways were incorporated to channel road runoff away from the stream as well.

Off the Beaten Path

A sizable portion of CRA’s work takes place on road’s less travelled. Our goal on these roads is keeping our rivers and streams flowing underneath them. We recently completed a small timber bridge on Bancroft Creek, a tributary to the Boardman River. Located on private land, this project is a great example of how to make land management decisions that benefit both the landowner and environment.

Support for Jordan River Bridge

CRA is pleased to announce several big steps toward funding a bridge project over the Jordan River. Recent awards include $50,000 from the Charlevoix County Community Foundation, $100,000 from the Frey Foundation and $150,000 from the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation.

Custer Weir Now Open

Custer Weir, just south of US 10,  once greeted visitors with no trespassing signs, tall fences and rusting equipment. It was a foreboding and potentially dangerous site. Now, as a result of two very special grants, CRA and partners removed the declining buildings and defunct lamprey barrier to create a new, inviting, all access site to the Pere Marquette River.

The Boardman: A River Reborn Fall Update

Work to restore the Boardman River is rounding the next bend as the phase to remove Boardman Dam comes into focus. CRA and the many partners that keep this project moving forward are pleased to report several important milestones and exciting plans ahead.

Beaver Island Archipelago Protection

Protecting Beaver Island’s diverse flora and fauna is paramount to the island’s future. That’s why CRA and partners recently concluded treatment of several of invasive plants including phragmites, reed canary grass, first-year marsh thistle, autumn olive, honeysuckle, multiflora rose and oriental bittersweet. The work was concentrated on the island’s Great Lakes shoreline as well as inland properties.

Timber Bridges and Healthy Rivers

CRA completes up to a dozen road/stream crossing projects every year. These projects involve removing undersized and aging culverts and replacing them with structures that reduce the impact on the water, fish and wildlife moving beneath them. Many of the crossings we work on are refitted with timber bridges.

Manistee dam removal yields snake hibernaculum
By Kevin Duffy, Great Lakes Echo

Conservation biologists have built the first artificial home for snakes in northern Michigan. And they removed an entire dam to do it. Experts say that the snakes need the help. Native snakes, including the Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake and Northern water snake, require shelter from cold winters. But development threatens their habitat in what is “the greatest impact to amphibian and reptile populations and reproduction,” said David Mifsud, a wetland ecologist at Herpetological Resource and Management who helped with the restoration.

Sustain Our Great Lakes Awards $1.5M in Grant Funding to Boardman River Dams & Restoration Project
By Chuck Lombardo, CML Marketing Communications, clombardo@cmlmc.com, 231-922-6782

Traverse City, MI – The Conservation Resource Alliance has been awarded $1.5 million in grant funding from Sustain Our Great Lakes (SOGL) for the Boardman River Dams Restoration Project. Funds will be used for ongoing dam removal and restoration work on the Boardman River, including the removal of Boardman and Sabin Dams and modification of Union Street Dam.

$3 Million Restoration Effort - Free Spanning the Maple River

Traverse City, MI - Tucked away near the tip of the mitt is a gem of a river that conservation partners are working hard to improve. The Maple River is a clear, coldwater trout stream that locals love, with good reason. But, like most northern rivers, historic logging, agricultural practices, and transportation development have left an impact over the last century. Conservation Resource Alliance, a nonprofit serving 15 northern Michigan counties, is leading restoration efforts and recently received a major boost with a $558,000 grant through Sustain Our Great Lakes, a program administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Sustain Our Great Lakes Program Announces $12 Million in Grants for Great Lakes Restoration
By Todd Hogrefe, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation 612-564-7286 or 612-716-4089

Grand Rapids, MI–Today, Sustain Our Great Lakes partners announced 31 projects selected by the program to receive nearly $12 million in grant funding for ecological restoration in the Great Lakes basin. With a focus on improving the quality and connectivity of stream, wetland and coastal habitats, this investment will help protect, restore and enhance the ecological integrity of the Great Lakes and surrounding region. Grant recipients will match the new grant funding with an additional $11 million, for a total on-the-ground impact of $23 million.

Free Spanning the Maple Update

Tucked away near the tip of the mitt is a gem of a river that CRA and partners have been working hard to improve for years. The Maple River is a clear, cold trout stream that locals love, with good reason. But, like most northern rivers, historic logging, agricultural practices, and transportation development have left an impact over the last century.

The Boardman: A River Reborn Summer Update

Over 80 people attended an informational open house to discuss the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Feasibility Study and Environmental Assessment. These documents address the need for and desirability of the coldwater restoration project.

Notes from the Big Sable River
By Wayne Andersen, Big Sable Watershed Restoration Committee Chairman

The Big Sable Watershed Restoration Committee recently completed a significant instream habitat project on the Big Sable River. The completed large woody debris work in the river is very impressive. What impressed me most with this project was the cooperation of many people contributing to the success of the project and sharing their passion for the river.

Pere Marquette River - Construction Notice

Partners are removing an outdated electrical sea lamprey barrier and constructing a recreational access site on the Pere Marquette in Custer, Michigan.

Please note that instream work will occur at this site immediately downstream of Custer Bridge on the Pere Marquette between the dates of July 28, 2014 and August 29, 2014. The site is on the Pere Marquette River mainstem just south of Custer where Custer Rd crosses the river ~1 mile south of US-10.

Next Chapter on the Betsie and Platte Rivers

The last six years have brought tremendous opportunities through the EPA to coordinate large scale restoration projects in Northern Michigan. The waters of Benzie County have been buzzing with activity since. We are currently in the third phase of work in the Betsie River Watershed and the Platte River Watershed with funding through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Sustain Our Great Lakes program. This phase includes the replacement of several severely degraded road/stream crossings as well as streambank stabilization and in-stream habitat work.

Brozofsky Creek & Platte Rd Crossing Replacement

The nonoperational Tamarack Trout Farm was among the top problems in the Platte River Watershed. A complex set of ownership and use patterns had resulted in a diversion of natural flow, excessive sedimentation, and degradation of the natural wetland and creeks. CRA and partners completed restoration of one of the road/stream crossings on Brozofsky Creek at Platte Road, just downstream of the former trout farm.

Tamarack Trout Farm Restoration Project

Since the 1960s, Brozofsky Creek, a tributary to Big Platte Lake in the Platte River Watershed, has been mired without a channel among stagnant ponds and filled wetlands at an obsolete trout farm. This summer, the water began to find its way again.

River Care™ Kids Clean Up at Tippy Dam

Traverse City, MI - Over 75 elementary school children hit the trails and stream banks to clean up trash along the heavily used fishing access at Tippy Dam on the Manistee River on June 9. This was the thirteenth consecutive year for the event that is part of Kaleva Norman Dickson Elementary School’s Earth Day activities and is coordinated by the Conservation Resource Alliance (CRA) and supported by the Consumers Energy Foundation and the Michigan Fly Fishing Club.

Boardman River Dams & Restoration Project Named to National List of Fish Conservation Projects
By Chuck Lombardo,CML Marketing Communications, clombardo@cmlmc.com, (231) 922-6782      

2014 “Waters to Watch” Provide Eye to the Future of Fish Conservation

Traverse City, MI  – The National Fish Habitat Partnership (NFHP) has included the Boardman River Dams & Restoration Project (BRDRP) on its 2014 list of rivers, streams, estuaries, lakes and watershed systems that will benefit from strategic conservation efforts to protect, restore or enhance their current condition.  The BRDRP is one of only ten projects across the nation named to the 2014 list.

Welcome 2014 Field Crew

We are very excited to welcome AmeriCorps member Mary Applegate and interns Jason Edwards, Brandon Glowacki and Matt Oxley to the CRA team. They’ll have their eyes, ears and feet on the ground collecting data in the Muskegon, Betsie and Manistee watersheds.

Road/Stream Crossing Resilience

Many were on high alert this spring as a record amount of snowmelt made its way into our waterways. These high water flows can often overwhelm road crossings and wreak havoc on both the watershed and the local community. We thankfully witnessed many road/stream crossings that were properly designed and installed and able to handle the added stress.

A key component of our work at CRA is inventorying, prioritizing and replacing failing road/stream crossings. This spring, we saw firsthand how this was paying off.

Big Happenings on the Little Manistee

Our staff has had their feet on the ground in the Little Manistee Watershed inventorying erosion sites and scouting sites for instream habitat. An updated erosion inventory will soon be completed and available along with all of our watershed inventory data at www.northernmichiganstreams.org

Timber Bridge Coming on the Little Betsie and Nessen Road

The first project in a new phase of work in the Betsie and Platte River watersheds kicks off this spring. Since 2008, CRA has completed over a dozen major projects in these watersheds including timber bridges, dam removals, wetland restoration and
instream habitat work.

Michigan DNR Draft Boardman River Assessment Released

The Michigan DNR released a draft Boardman River Assessment for review. Public comments are due by Friday, May 16. River assessments are intended to provide a comprehensive reference for individuals who seek information about a river system.

The Boardman: A River Reborn Phase II in Motion

It’s not just the water above the former Brown Bridge Dam that’s moving – the Implementation Team, the collaborative group of partners providing project oversight, is diving into phase II of the project. Efforts are currently focused on Boardman Dam and the adjoining Cass Road Bridge.

Pere Marquette Headwaters Improvements - Sanborn Creek RSX

CRA and partners are slated to replace two road/stream crossings (RSX) in the headwaters of the Pere Marquette in Lake County this summer. The first site is on Sanborn Creek and the second is a 1/2 mile down the road on a tributary to Sanborn Creek. Both of the 40th Street crossings are high on the priority list for restoration and combining them into one project saves significant time and money.

Restoration & Recreation a Priority at Jordan River Bridge

“This site represents a major opportunity to mend the river while improving user safety and site aesthetics. That’s why I love my job – I get to be a part of these win-win projects,” reflected Biologist Kim Balke. Locally known as Chestonia Bridge, Kim was talking about the dilapidated culverts and eroding streambanks where Old State Road (Antrim County) crosses the Jordan River.

Meanders on the Maple

The Maple River in Emmet County is for those who seek a quiet escape. Paddlers revel in the meanders and undeveloped shoreline while many anglers seek the Michigan “triple crown” of catching a brown, brook and rainbow trout in the same stream. The secret to finding these fish may lie right underneath a Conservation Resource Alliance project.

Misty Acres Dam Coming Down

While walking through Misty Acres, a 585-acre preserve in Manistee and Benzie counties, you might pass through the mature hardwood forests, delicate wetlands or hear the Belted Galloway cattle from the nearby farm. Soon, you’ll hear the subtle trickle of a Betsie River tributary flowing freely.

Fishing Platform Planned at Former Weir Site - Custer Weir
By Brian Mulherin, Daily News Staff Writer, Ludington Daily News

A new fishing platform is expected to be built on the former Custer lamprey weir site operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The platform, according to Kim Balke of the Conservation Resource Alliance will be universally accessible.

Top 10 of 2013

Staff recently reflected on the last year of work and we came up with a 2013 ‘Top 10’ list of memorable moments and milestones. From trudging through thick alder stands in chest-high water to witnessing the sunset over Lake Michigan on the sand dunes, we saw many unforgettable scenes here in Northern Michigan.

Northwest Michigan Stream Connectivity Report Released

In 2010, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service awarded Conservation Resource Alliance grants totaling $374,630 through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Great Lakes Basin Fish Habitat Partnership. Ultimately, these on-the-ground community based projects opened up approximately 150 miles of habitat for native fish species and other aquatic organisms and restored more than 30 miles of instream habitat and 220 acres of riparian corridor habitat.

Flowing Well Finale

The final touches are being put on the former Flowing Well Trout Farm property in Kalkaska County. Our staff has been restoring the 1,720 acre property since 2008 and the finish line is now in sight.

Arcadia Marsh Restoration

The tale ends with a tranquil scene of birds gliding through a pristine marsh with vibrant wildflowers and a gently meandering stream. Getting to the end of the story, however, offers a more complex narrative of a community coming together to bring the right partners to the table to protect and restore 155 acres of stunning habitat in the heart of Manistee County.

Photo by Angie Lucas courtesy of GTRLC

Northern Michigan Partnership to Restore Stream Connectivity and Habitat Breaks Barriers

A coalition of conservation partners in northern Michigan have collaboarated in several key watersheds through a joint project funded through the Great lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act. Stream connectivity and habitat restoration were the goals targeted on many of the highest quality streams feeding the Great Lakes.

Boardman River Restoration - What's Next?

Conservation Resource Alliance and the Boardman Dams Implementation Team (IT) recently celebrated the reopening and rebirth of 2.5 miles of the Boardman River as project partners, stakeholders and supporters gathered at the former Brown Bridge Dam site. Next up is the removal of the Boardman Dam, replacement of the bridge at Cass Road and restoration of that stretch of river. 

Brown Bridge Dam - GONE!

The Conservation Resource Alliance, acting as contracted Project Manager, has led the Boardman Dams Implementation Team (IT) through the complex process of removing Brown Bridge Dam on the Boardman River. Brown Bridge Dam was the first of three historic hydro-electric dams on this Blue Ribbon designated trout stream slated for removal. This massive community driven project was set in motion nearly a decade ago. The project is on schedule and within budget as compared to anticipated outcomes. 

Upper Manistee Restoration Update at Flowing Well

Over the last year, CRA has continued to restore and enhance the Upper Manistee River at the former Flowing Well Trout Farm. Projects have concentrated on building habitat for both aquatic and terrestrial species. The placement of woody structures along stream channels has created high-quality aquatic habitat.

Restoration at the Heart of the Betsie and Platte Rivers

CRA recently received great news! We were awarded a grant through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Sustain Our Great Lakes program for work on the Betsie and Platte rivers to restore aquatic connectivity and improve in-stream habitat.

Fish Habitat Projects on Bear Creek

As the largest tributary to the Manistee River below Tippy Dam, Bear Creek (Manistee County) is stream to appreciate and conserve. Conservation Resource Alliance (CRA) has several active projects to improve fish habitat and reduce erosion in this watershed.

In 2011-2012, CRA and partners including the Bear Creek Watershed Council, Michigan DNR and Spirit of the Woods Conservation Club came together to install woody structures in stretches of the stream that lacked fish cover.

In 2013, CRA is working with the Michigan DNR through a $40,000 grant from the Michigan Habitat Improvement Fund and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Great Lakes Basin Fish Habitat Partnership to further enhance aquatic habitat, reduce erosion and improve water quality.

Habitat Improvement and Erosion Control Project on Coe Creek and 20 Mile Rd.

The Pine River, part of the Manistee River Watershed, is a favorite of locals and visitors alike. This cold-water system supports populations of wild brown, brook, and rainbow trout, all sustained through natural reproduction.

Conservation Resource Alliance and partners including the Michigan DNR – Fisheries Division, Michigan DEQ, Knoop Excavating and Four Seasons Nursery implemented several Best Management Practices to improve a key tributary.

Big Sable Watershed Updates

Check out the latest reports for the Big Sable Watershed Restoration Committee to find out what this action oriented partner has been up to on their home waters, the beloved Big Sable River.

Pere Marquette and Pine River Road Crossings Improvement Project

In 2009, the US Forest Service awarded Conservation Resource Alliance and the Lake County Road Commission grants totaling $1,100,000 through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. An additional $650,565 in match and grants was raised and led to the completion 8 stream restoration projects. The focus was replacing and improving road/stream crossings in Lake County in the Pere Marquette and Pine River watersheds.

Timber on the Boyne

New timber bridges are popping up all over northern Michigan as modern road/stream crossing replacements for aging, poorly designed, and deteriorating structures. One of the newest has recently been completed on Springbrook Road over the North Branch of the Boyne River. The previous undersized culverts prevented natural movement of sediments, causing impounding of sand and water upstream of the crossing over decades. CRA coordinated the design, engineering, and construction of thisnearly $300,000 project over the last couple of years and plans a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate this beautiful improvement to the Boyne in 2013.

Platte River & Reynolds Road Bridge

The Platte River is a State designated Blue Ribbon Trout Stream, and includes 90.5 miles of stream and tributaries. The Reynolds  Road crossing on the Platte River mainstem was a severe site where the 4’ diameter culvert was exceptionally undersized. Now, a timber bridge fully spans the river and a realigned roadway provides safer conditions for drivers. 

Dair Creek & Landis Road Crossing Replacement

The Betsie River is a State designated Natural River known for salmon & steelhead fishing. Dair Creek is the coldest & second largest tributary to the Betsie and provides critical escape & spawning habitat in a watershed that is known to have extreme water temperatures on the mainstem during summer & winter months. With the replacement of the aging, undersized 3’ diameter corrugated culverts where Landis Road crosses Dair Creek, a bottomless arch now spans the creek providing full passage of aquatic life and a natural stream bottom under the road. 

Kinney Creek & Stanley Road Crossing Replacement

Kinney Creek is a tributary that flows mostly through forested State lands, and has pockets of gravel beds making the stream a haven for trout escape cover and spawning habitat. The Platte River Watershed has 98 road/stream crossings and site #I-17 is where Stanley Road crosses Kinney Creek. With the replacement of the aging, undersized 2’ diameter concrete and 1.5’ diameter corrugated culverts, a bottomless arch now spans Kinney Creek providing full passage of aquatic life and a natural stream bottom under the road. 

Upper Manistee Protection & Restoration Project

The North Branch of the Manistee River is a cold, groundwater-fed tributary to the Manistee River and is a state designated Natural River with a naturally reproducing population of brook trout. The riparian corridor surrounding this river functions as an important regional wildlife corridor and is buffered by thousands of acres of state owned land.

These ecological hot spots are threatened and degraded by impacts at the Mecum Road crossing of the North Branch and the abandoned Flowing Well Trout Farm, a 1720-acre property acquired by the State of Michigan. Through this project, CRA coordinated the replacement of the existing Mecum Road crossing with a new Timber Bridge structure and continues to restore the Flowing Well Trout Farm for fish passage and habitat improvement.

Pleasantview Road Timber Bridge Completed

The West Branch of the Maple in Emmet County is known to support the best trout fishery and coldest water within the watershed. The old crossing (site #E-8) consisted of 3 culverts that were critically failing to the extent that they were blocking fish passage. Erosion from the road shoulders and embankment contributed excessive sand to the river. The undersized and failing culverts caused flooding and consequent warming of upstream waters.

The project involved replacing the existing culverts with a free-span 40ft. timber bridge structure, which will accommodate the natural flow of the river. In addition, the embankments were stabilized, and road runoff is now properly managed to reduce/eliminate sedimentation at the crossing.

Mecum Road Timber Bridge Completed on Manistee North Branch

The Mecum road crossing consisted of five undersized culverts and was severely impounding water and backing up sand for ¾ mile upstream, in addition to drastically warming the water upstream of the crossing. Brook trout had been nearly extirpated from the stream stretch upstream of the crossing.

Surveys from 2002-2004 showed abundant brook trout, with some exceeding 12” in length. However, in a 2008 survey, only two brook trout were caught in the reach; the habitat had dramatically changed.

Mecum Road was considered the worst remaining crossing on the North Branch of the Manistee. The old structures were removed and replaced with a modern timber bridge, setting the stage for this important stretch of river to regain it's vitality and health.

Big Sable River Bank Stabilization

In 2006, the Big Sable River streambank inventory was updated and placed in electronic format. The new inventory is web-hosted (www.liaa.info/crabmp/) and available for resource managers as a tool to help prioritize streambank stabilization projects in need of restoration. The last severely eroding site identified in the inventory as a priority for future work was Site #21. BSWRC contacted the landowners whom were eager to work with the committee on restoration efforts.

Beaver Island Stream Improved!

At a cost of $34,350, CRA's first ever infrastructure project completed on Beaver Island at the same time removed an iconic road/stream crossing and improved passage for fish travelling between Lake Michigan and the creek. The jasper-tinted creek emptying into Iron Ore Bay had for years been crossed by an inspired combination of culverts in varying sizes and structural integrity. With antidotal evidence pointing to the potential for coaster brook trout recruitment from upstream stretches of Iron Ore Creek to the big lake, the replacement of the only road crossing on the creek became a priority given that it crosses immediately adjacent to the mouth. A partnership between diverse groups resulted in the replacement of the existing structure with one more conducive to fish passage as well as having an aesthetic appeal which complements the dramatic beauty of the location.

Silver Creek/State Road Fish Passage Project

Silver Creek/State Road Fish Passage Project

Sweetwater Creek & Wingleton Road Timber Bridge Project

The Pere Marquette River is a state designated Natural River, a federally designated Wild and Scenic River, and a Blue Ribbon Trout Stream. Tributaries like Sweetwater Creek provide critical spawning and escape cover for fish, travel corridors for wildlife, and instream habitat for aquatic insects. Sweetwater Creek is approximately 1.5 miles long and this crossing project opens fish passage up to a half mile of it.

Jordan River Electrical Weir & Salmon Weir

The Jordan River was designated the state’s first Natural River in 1972 and is a Blue Ribbon Trout Stream. On the lower river an electrical sea lamprey barrier was operated in partnership with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the agency charged with treating Michigan’s streams to prevent uncontrolled reproduction of sea lamprey. Unfortunately, the barrier began to fail after ten years of operation and required an estimated $250,000 in repairs to make it fully operational. As a result, the USFWS turned to chemical treatments (TFM) to reduce lamprey populations. Thus, the barrier remained an obstacle to some fish, and started to break down, no longer serving any practical purpose. Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division, agreed that its removal is in the best interest of the watershed. In fact, its removal is a management option identified in the Jordan River Assessment written by MDNRE Fisheries Division (Hay 2004).

Betsie River & King Road Improvement Project

The Betsie River is a State Designated Natural River and is well known for its steelhead and salmon fishery. The Betsie River is a Lake Michigan tributary and it flows through Grand Traverse, Benzie, and Manistee Counties, with its headwaters starting in Green Lake. The Betsie River Watershed has 106 road/stream crossings with 64 recommended for some type of improvement. Site #B-20 is where the Betsie mainstem crosses King Road; this site was ranked severe with its steep, sandy eroding road approaches that washed over the bridge deck into the river with snowmelt and rain events. By partnering with the Grand Traverse Band, Environmental Protection Agency and the Benzie County Road Commission, sufficient funding was secured in order to harden the approaches and include curbing and diversion outlets to channel runoff away from the stream.

Platte Benefits from New Timber Bridge!

The Burnt Mill Road Crossing on the Platte River mainstem (site #PR-8) was a severe site that contributed sediment to the stream and altered the natural stream channel. CRA worked with partners to construct a beautiful timber bridge over the Platte River, reminiscent of the natural character of the wooded area and former mill and railroad site at Burnt Mill. Additional woody debris work will be completed downstream.

Silver Creek/State Road Restoration Project

Fish passage is a serious conservation issue in many Michigan waterways. Dams and culverts are often the culprits of segmenting fish populations – they block the passage of fish and other aquatic organisms thus reducing the amount of habitat available.

On Silver Creek (Lake County), a perched culvert prevented all fish passage from the Pine River into Silver Creek meaning rainbow, brown, and brook trout were blocked from more than five miles of critical habitat.

Stanley Creek & Hulbert Road Improvement

The Platte River is well known for its steelhead and Pacific salmon fishery. Site #SC-2 is where Stanley Creek, a high quality, first order Platte River tributary crosses Hulbert Road; this site was ranked severe with its steep, sandy eroding road approaches conveying sediment directly into the river during snowmelt and rain events. By partnering with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment, and the Benzie County Road Commission, sufficient funding was secured in order to stabilize the approaches and include diversion outlets to channel runoff away from the stream.

 

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Conservation Resource Alliance

Bayview Professional Centre
10850 Traverse Highway, Suite 1180
Traverse City, MI 49684
231-946-6817 info@rivercare.org