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Local Partners Celebrate New Timber Bridge

January 22, 2007

Where there recently was a pair of undersized, dilapidated culverts carrying traffic on Oliver Road across the pristine Carp River, located near Wilderness State Park in northern Emmet County, now there is a modern timber bridge. Thanks to the efforts of a diverse group of private organizations, citizens, and public agencies, and the funds provided by 10 different sources, the project was completed in late 2006.
Most of those involved shared common goals of improving stream habitat and passage for popular fish like steelhead and salmon that move through the Carp. The group also wanted to eliminate the heavy sand loading and flooding associated with the old culverts. In a 1999 regional assessment of area rivers coordinated by the Conservation Resource Alliance (CRA), the Oliver road crossing was found to be the worst single impact to the 11-mile long Carp River.

According to CRA project manager, Chris Pierce, who helped coordinate the project, “Road/stream crossings are a prominent negative impact to northern Michigan’s rivers.” Pierce says this is not by intent, but rather the artifact of aging, minimal crossings installed 20 to 50 years ago, when cheapest was best.

The new timber bridge spans the natural channel of the river. Runoff and erosion control were addressed by stabilizing the adjacent river banks, paving a stretch of Oliver Road, and redirecting runoff and stormwater, notorious for flooding the old crossing. CRA also promotes the choice of timber bridges as a way of enhancing the markets for local forest products. Pierce says, “At CRA we believe that from a conservation standpoint, keeping prime forestlands intact for timber production is desirable, especially if the alternative is developing them for residential or commercial use. But keeping land in timber requires profitable new markets.”
The bridge project required careful planning, due to the presence of the federally endangered Hungerford’s beetle, which has been discovered in only a handful of streams, including the Carp and nearby Maple Rivers.

Funding for the project was provided by the U.S. Forest Service Wood in Transportation Program, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Emmet County Road Commission, Emmet County Revenue Sharing Board, Baiardi Family Foundation, Frey Foundation, Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation, Paradise Lake Association, USDA’s Conservation Innovation Grant, and CRA’s River Care Fund, which is made possible with contributions from individuals, private and corporate donors such as DTE Energy Foundation, the Oleson Foundation, and General Motors Foundation.


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