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American Rivers Honors Jim Schramm

March 19, 2014

American Rivers, a river conservation organization based in Washington D.C., recently honored 40 river champions as part of the group’s 40th anniversary. Jim Schramm, a true advocate for Michigan’s rivers, was among those recognized. Other honorees include President Jimmy Carter and Patagonia’s Yvon Chouinard.

Jim Schramm was instrumental in forming the Michigan Hydropower Relicensing Coalition, and as such, is probably responsible for restoring more river miles in Michigan than almost anyone else. Jim has worked tirelessly, and often thanklessly, to restore and preserve rivers all across the state, from the Muskegon to the Manistee to the Au Sable and others. As the Coalition’s coordinator and legal counsel, Jim has been able to take on the difficult task of negotiating complex hydropower reform agreements on the Coalition’s behalf.

Jim is also a founding board member of the Anglers of the Au Sable, the president and legal counsel of the Great Lakes Council of the Federation of Fly Fishers, a member of the Governor’s Camp Grayling Advisory Committee, a member of the Department of Natural Resource’s Blue Ribbon Trout Stream Committee, as well as their Lake Michigan Advisory and Fishing Regulation Review Committees, Director of the Pere Marquette Watershed Council, and the Director of the West Michigan Hacklers.                                                                                    - American Rivers

Jim has had a huge impact on both the local and national stage for conservation. His work with hydropower relicensing helps balance healthy river systems and hydropower by bringing hydropower dams up to modern standards.

Conservation Resource Alliance’s (CRA) Director Amy Beyer commented, “Jim’s pioneering work for both the Michigan and National Hydro Relicensing Coalition has dramatically changed the outcomes of relicensing activities for hydropower dams. The coalition has given voice and legal standing to the advocates for coldwater fisheries when it is time to improve and retrofit hydropower dams.”

Close to home in Northern Michigan, Jim has been a practical, positive contributor through his leadership on the Great Lakes Council of the Federation of Fly Fishers and a staunch supporter of partnerships working to improve the Pere Marquette, Manistee and Boardman River fisheries.

CRA staff biologist Nate Winkler recalls working on the Boardman River Watershed, “I remember being all fired up because Brown Bridge Dam was spilling 80°F water into the river and distressing the fishery. Jim was sitting next to me and I didn’t know who he was when he turned to me and said in dead earnest ‘We have to get that dam out of there.’ At that moment, I knew change was coming.”

Read about the other honorees at River Champions.

Watch a short video that explains how improving operations at hydropower projects can improve river conditions.


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