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Category: Articles
We're Building Stronger Roots
Even as the world faces a global health crisis, one thing is for certain – Michiganders care about saving Mother Earth. This dedication was on full display at CRA’s Wild Roots seedling distribution, where approximately 50 participants helped to plant more than 20,000 trees and shrubs across the state.
Wild Roots Update: Pick-ups delayed until May 2

The 2020 WIld Roots pick-ups are now tentatively planned for Saturday, May 2

Floodplains: Mother Nature's Defense
Floodplains are a river's most important defense mechanism - keeping habitat, wildlife, and people safe from flooding. When they become disconnected, problems arise.
Syers Lake Dam Removal
Syers Lake's sand berm dam has been blocking the movement of aquatic species, elevating water temperatures and increasing sedimentation in Syers Creek for more than 50 years. This July, the dam will finally be removed, and restoration of the creek will begin.
Project Updates in Emmet County
We are kicking off a busy field season of restoring waters in Emmet County. While restoration activities continue on the Maple River, we are beginning construction of a new timber bridge at Gill Road on the Carp Lake River. 
CRA Receives Planet Award
On Earth Day, Consumers Energy Foundation gave CRA a Planet Award, which supports projects that significantly impact Michigan’s natural resources. We received $150,000 for the Wild Roots initiative, which aims to plant 100,000 native trees and shrubs over the next five years. The Planet Awards are the first of three $500,000 grant allocations in 2019, totaling $1.5 million.
2019 Seedling Give-A-Way for Donors
We are celebrating Earth Day this year and saying "thank you" to our donors with our annual Seedling Give-A-Way! Anyone who has made a donation to CRA in the last year is eligible. Orders will be taken while supplies last.
Sabin Dam Removal Update

Sabin powerhouse comes down on September 25, 2018. Sabin dam was built and re-built in the years 1906, 1914 and 1930.  With the removal of the powerhouse a milestone is met and the river is that much closer to being returned to a free-flowing stream.

Thank You Boathouse
Big thank you to the The Boathouse Restaurant on Old Mission Peninsula for hosting the fifth annual Michigan Wild Game Wine Dinner on Saturday, February 3. Over $15,000 has been raised to support CRA through this great event.
Conservation Sustainers
Support CRA with a monthly gift as a Conservation Sustainer. If you are interested in becoming a Conservation Sustainer, we ask you simply designate a fixed monthly gift to be charged to your credit or debit card or automatically withdrawn from a checking account.
DNR advises caution to prevent spread of oak wilt disease
Contact Michigan DNR: Bob Heyd, 906-228-6561, ext. 3023 or Roger Mech, 810-229-4155
For most people, April 15 is the annual tax-filing deadline. For people like Roger Mech – and other forest health professionals – April 15 also marks the beginning of the yearly window when oak wilt can be transmitted from diseased to healthy red oak trees.

According to Mech, forest health specialist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Forest Resources Division, oak wilt is a serious disease of oak trees. It mainly affects red oaks, including northern red oak, black oak and pin oak. Red oaks often die within a few weeks after becoming infected.
Help prevent spread of invasive New Zealand mudsnail
Contact Michigan DNR: Seth Herbst, 517-284-5841 or Elyse Walter, 517-284-5839
In 2015 the Michigan departments of Environmental Quality and Natural Resources confirmed the presence of the invasive New Zealand mudsnail (Potamopyrgus antipodarum) in the Pere Marquette River near Baldwin, which is a popular destination for trout and salmon anglers.

New Zealand mudsnails are each only about 1/8 inch long and can be difficult to see. However, these snails can significantly change the aquatic habitats they live in by reaching extremely high densities. When that happens, they can out-compete native species that are important food sources for trout.
Grand Traverse Band Invests in Conservation
The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians has long been committed to the protection and enhancement of our natural resources and environment. The tribe recently gave a big boost to CRA’s River Care program through a $50,000 award as part of their 2% Revenue Sharing program. The funding comes from their video gaming revenue and is given out twice yearly.
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.

Widespread Spruce Budworm Defoliation
Contact Michigan DNR: Bob Heyd, 906-228-6561, ext. 3023 or John Pepin, 906-228-6561

Over the past few years, white spruce and balsam fir have been defoliated by the spruce budworm, one of the most destructive native insects in the northern spruce and fir forests of the eastern United States and Canada.

“This year, budworm defoliation is widespread and expected to be heavy for the second or third years in many areas,” said Bob Heyd, forest health specialist with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources in Marquette. 

DNR advises caution to prevent spread of oak wilt disease
Contact: Roger Mech, 517-243-0300 or Bob Heyd, 906-228-6561, ext. 3023

For most people, April 15 is the annual tax-filing deadline. For people like Roger Mech – and other forest health professionals – April 15 also marks the beginning of the yearly window when oak wilt can be transmitted from diseased to healthy red oak trees.

Michigan Frog and Toad Survey Marks 20th Year
Contact Lori Sargent, Michigan DNR Wildlife Biologist

Michigan’s amateur herpetologists will go afield over the course of the next several months, listening for the songs of frogs and toads across the state. This annual survey – now in its 20th year – is proving to be an important tool, as wildlife officials try to keep track of what’s going on with the state’s amphibians.

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.

DNR advises not to move firewood between state parks to prevent spread of oak wilt
Contact Heidi Frei or Ed Golder, Michigan DNR

Oak wilt outbreaks are increasing in Michigan and the Department of Natural Resources has conducted treatment at several state parks to halt the spread of the disease.

Oak wilt is an introduced disease that causes rapid death of infected trees. The fungus is easily transported by beetles from infected wood to nearby wounded trees. Trees cannot be cured of oak wilt, and once a tree is infected the disease can rapidly spread to neighboring trees through underground root graft connections. The loss of large numbers of oak trees in parks can be dramatic, both for the park visitor experience and the ecology of the natural habitat.

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.

My CRA Summer
By Matt Oxley, Field Technician

A very harsh winter has led to a mild summer. While beach enthusiasts and tourists may not care for the cooler temperatures, the weather does not go unappreciated by the interns performing this summer’s batch of field work. Aside from a few weeks of high mosquito populations, the weather has been perfect for working outside.

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.

MI-MAST Citizen Science

Researchers at Michigan State University have been working with the Michigan DNR to create a program that allows citizens to participate in research to benefit wildlife conservation. The goal of the program is to quantify the amount of wild fruits and nuts (mast) throughout the state each year. Various species rely heavily on these food sources, and this information will help the DNR better manage these species.

State parks celebrate Threatened and Endangered Species Week Aug. 4-10
By Karen Gourlay and Ed Golder, Michigan DNR

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Michigan’s Endangered Species Act, the important legislation that has been critical to the recovery of many different species. The Department of Natural Resources is celebrating this milestone with a week of programming in several of Michigan’s state parks.

DNR Offers Tips for Residents Encountering Snakes
By Hannah Schauer and Tom Goniea, Michigan DNR

This time of year, as snakes are out and about in the great outdoors, the Department of Natural Resources gets many questions about Michigan's snakes. Michigan is home to 17 different species of snakes, 16 of which are completely harmless to humans.

Public Hearing Held to Discuss Plans for Proposed Jordan River Project
By 9&10 News

A proposed project would remove two culverts in the Jordan River, and replace them with a bridge. Developers say the culverts cause some problems with river flow in East Jordan.

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.

Update on Boardman River Project
By Morgan Sherburne, Michigan Trout Unlimted

Through a wide field south of Traverse City flows a horseshoe of the Boardman River. The river cuts through new, raw-looking hills of glacial till — soft sand and pebbles. Stumps of old trees sit along the river, and in a field that the horseshoe hugs is planted native, stabilizing grass. Cross the river and scale the hill and you can see two tall hills, through which is a wide, flat flood plain covered in native plants. This is the site of the Brown Bridge Dam, which stood until the fall of 2012. Its removal was completed in May 2013, and cost a total of $4.2 million.

Restoring Natural Habitats
By Emily Clegg, The Nature Conservancy
Published in Precast Solutions, Summer 2013

In stewarding our natural resources, we can’t be too cautious about protecting the aquatic life in our rivers and streams. Indeed, thousands of manmade dams and stream diversions have seriously degraded and obstructed the natural habitat of our native fisheries. But that’s precisely where precast concrete can help.

Michigan Water Ways Upgrade For Better Fish Migration
By Jacob Johnson, 9&10 News

A Northern Michigan water way will get an upgrade to help allow fish to swim up and down streams and rivers. A $20,000 federal grant will help replace a culvert on the Bancroft Creek near Kingsley, which flows into the Boardman River. $645,000 is being awarded to Michigan and other Great Lakes states to remove structures that are stopping the fish.

Great Lakes Basin Fish Habitat Partnership
By Michele Wheeler, Great Lakes Basin Fish Habitat Partnership Coordinator

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Great Lakes Basin Fish Habitat Partnership are pleased to announce the approval of nearly $400,000 in grants aimed at supporting on-the-ground fish habitat work in the Great Lakes under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the National Fish Habitat Partnership.  

The Boardman River is Re-Opened and Re-Born
By 9&10 News

Today supporters of  the Boardman River Restoration Project celebrated new beginnings at the site of the old dam.

The Boardman River Restoration Project aims to remove a series of three dams so the river can go back to the way it looked before the dams were put in over 90 years ago.

Ecologists say that since the dams removal, a process that started last fall, it's already evident how much stronger vegetation and fish populations are growing in their new free flowing habitat.

2013 Sustain Our Great Lakes Grants Announced
By Todd Hogrefe, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

The Sustain Our Great Lakes program announced $8.4 Million in grants for Great Lakes restoration. This public–private partnership is funding 29 projects enabling $16.2 million of on-the-ground impact in U.S. and Canada during the latest round of grant awards.

Our Rivers Run Through Us
By Carol Moncrieff Rose, Northern Michigan Conservation Network

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus opined that “No man ever steps into the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” 

While there is much to be appreciated by this wisdom, northern Michigan watershed groups are doing more than pondering its nuances; plans are being made, permits being secured, crews and contractors being hired, and data being collected.  Here’s just a sampling of watershed work on the agenda for some of northern Michigan’s river keepers.

Dam Removal Resurrects Trout Stream
By Jeff Alexander, Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition 

Project name: Flowing Well Trout Farm Restoration Project, Kalkaska, Mi.

Description: The Flowing Well Trout Farm, built in the mid-1900s, erected 12 small dams to create fish rearing ponds. The dams, built in the North branch of the Manistee River and the Flowing Well Creek, diverted the natural flow of a trout stream, caused unnaturally high water temperatures, blocked fish passage and disrupted the natural movement of sediment and woody debris in the river.

Approximate cost of project: $626,000

Tent Caterpillars are for the Birds
By Kay Charter, Saving Birds Through Habitat & Eric Ellis, CRA Biologist, Spring 2011 Catalyst

It’s amazing how many aspects of the natural world are unknown, even to the experts. A case in point is the answer to the question, “Do birds eat tent caterpillars?” Some of us have either heard or read opinions by both bird and bug people that nothing eats these caterpillars. Upon deeper investigation it is apparent that tent caterpillars, as annoying as they can be, play an important role in the Northern Michigan environment for birds and other wildlife.

A Dam Problem
By Dustin Dwyer, The Environment Report

All this week, we're focusing on stories about fish for our series, "Swimming Upstream." Dustin Dwyer traveled all around the Lower Peninsula for the series, and for today's story, he went to the site of a former trout farm along the headwaters of the Manistee River, near Grayling. Dustin went to learn about the complex world of dam removal:

The Flowing Well trout farm was built half a century ago. Dotted along the river here are a number of little dams, each one only 4 or 5 feet high, built out of simple wood planks. But if you're a fish, this might as well be the Hoover.

Dam removal planned on Upper Manistee River
By Sheri McWhirter, The Leader & Kalkaskian

KALKASKA – Four small dams will be removed from Kalkaska County streams in an ecological restoration project in the Manistee River watershed.

The work is intended to restore the free flow of the Upper Manistee River in an area that’s packed with dams, impoundments and an old trout farm. The property became state land in 2008 through a conservation effort and now habitat improvement work is set to begin next spring.

Big Improvements for a Small Creek
By Kimberly Balke, January 2010 Catalyst

In 1867, a local citizen named John Wheeler built a dam on what came to be known as Wheeler Creek. Though there were a couple of fires at the dam site, the structure was repeatedly rebuilt over the years and has kept Wheeler Creek from freely flowing into the Manistee River ever since.

In October of 2009, CRA worked with partners to remove Wheeler Creek Dam. The concrete spillway was breaking apart, the stop logs were in poor condition, and the risk of failure was looming for the 20 foot high dam. The dam removal process has not been without challenges. Over 140 years worth of accumulated sediment and debris had collected in the ponds behind the dam, and with the highway and Manistee River immediately downstream of the dam we lacked an ideal sand trap site.

Early Growth Forest Important For Wildlife
By Dan Boss, Petoskey News-Review

A wildlife habitat improvement project that involves cutting trees in Emmet County could help grow the number of American woodcock and other species of animals living there.

The work is being done at Maple River Farm near Pellston. It’s part of the Conservation Resource Alliance’s (CRA) Wild Link Program, which helps landowners improve wildlife habitat on their property.

Funding Benefits Local Rivers
By Marci Singer, Petoskey News-Review

The Conservation Resource Alliance was recently notified that a second phase of Conservation Innovation Grant funding has been awarded to extend habitat improvement work in Northwest Michigan.

Since 2006, conservation partners have been working on the first phase, a three year, $500,000 grant project that concentrates habitat improvement in the critical river and wildlife habitat corridors of Northwest Michigan, most notably the Jordan River, the Boyne River and the Maple River, among others.

Repairing Backyard Rivers
By Rebecca Williams, The Environment Report

American rivers have gone through a lot in the last century. Their twists and turns have been turned into straight channels. Their banks have been washed away. And pollution is still flowing off farm fields and city streets. Fixing these rivers is a big challenge. A lot of the land that rivers run through is privately owned. So that means - to fix a river, you often have to work with landowners. Rebecca Williams has the story of one group that thinks they've found the secret to winning people's trust.


CRA Highlighted as DTE Community Partner
By Matt Thomas, CRA Development Coordinator

Healthy Rivers, Healthy Communities was the theme of the DTE Energy Cherry Royale float that featured CRA as their community partner. The massive display featured bigger than life elements depicting both the good and the bad possibilities for watersheds. Giant magnifying glasses zoomed in on aquatic insects while forest creatures, turtles, frogs and trout, shared the habitat with a happy fly fisher.

Trees: It’s what’s for dinner
By Eric Ellis, CRA Biologist, Summer 2008 Catalyst

Emerald Ash Borer and Beech Bark Disease in Northern Michigan

In the past few years Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) and its lesser known counterpart Beech Bark Disease (BBD) have been spreading throughout northern Michigan. In CRA’s 13 county service area, eleven have confirmed EAB infestations; seven have documented cases of BBD. The spread of these two invasive species is causing wholesale changes to the “Up North” landscape we all enjoy.

The Plight of the Naked River
By Kimberly Balke, CRA Biologist, Winter 2007 Catalyst

Trees. Is there anything in nature more useful than a tree? Whether it’s alive or dead, a tree is a great thing. Most of our rivers and creeks begin in the trees, flowing through forests, picking up leaf litter, pine needles, cones, branches and fallen trees as they go. Those tree branches and trunks and root wads – that is what makes up the woody debris that our streams require to be healthy.

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