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Manistee River, Michigan Named “Water To Watch” For 2011

April 18, 2011
For Immediate Release
 
Contact: Ryan Roberts, National Fish Habitat Action Plan Communications Coordinator, (202) 624-5851, rroberts@fishwildlife.org
Conservation Resource Alliance, (231) 946-6817, info@rivercare.org

 

Washington, D.C. – The National Fish Habitat Action Plan (www.fishhabitat.org) has unveiled the 2011 10 “Waters to Watch” list, a collection of rivers, streams, estuaries , watershed systems and shores that will benefit from strategic conservation efforts to protect, restore or enhance their current condition.

These waters represent a snapshot of this year’s larger voluntary habitat conservation efforts in progress. These and other locally driven conservation projects are prioritized and implemented by regional Fish Habitat Partnerships that have formed throughout the country to implement the National Fish Habitat Action Plan. The objective of the Action Plan is to conserve freshwater, estuarine and marine habitats essential to the many fish and wildlife species that call these areas home. In Michigan, the Manistee River has been selected as one of the 10 “Waters to Watch” for 2011.

The 10 “Waters to Watch” are representative of freshwater to marine habitats across the country including rivers, lakes, reservoirs and estuaries that benefit through the conservation efforts of these Fish Habitat Partnerships formed under the Action Plan—a bold initiative implemented in 2006 to prevent and reverse persistent declines in our nation’s aquatic habitats.

The initial Action Plan’s 10 “Waters to Watch” list was unveiled in 2007 and in 2011 will feature its 50th project. Since 2006, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has provided $12 million to support 257 on-the-ground Action Plan projects in 43 states, leveraging $30 million in partner match, to address the priorities of Action Plan Fish Habitat Partnerships. Additional funds have been provided by several other State and Federal agencies and Non- Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and industry partners.

“Our approach—teaming local, state, tribal, and federal agencies with private partners and stakeholders—is helping to bring these waters back to life in most cases…in a faster more strategic way,” said Kelly Hepler, Chairman of the National Fish Habitat Board. “By watching these 10 models of our nation’s aquatic conservation efforts underway, we can see real progress, in both avoidance and treatment of causes of fish habitat decline. Too often we have focused on treatment of symptoms with limited success. Through sound science and on-the-ground locally driven partnerships, these select Action Plan projects can be held high as a vision of what quality habitat should and can be, and how it benefits all people throughout the United States.”
MANISTEE RIVER- (Great Lakes Basin Partnership)

The North Branch of the Manistee River is a cold, groundwater-fed tributary to the Manistee River and is a state designated Natural River. It is an unstocked trout stream with a self-sustaining 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 recently acquired by the State of Michigan. Poorly managed private parcels in this corridor also contribute to the degradation of water and upland habitat in the area. Through this project, Conservation Resource Alliance will coordinate the replacement of the existing Mecum Road crossing with a new Timber Bridge structure and the complete restoration of the Flowing Wells Trout Farm for fish passage and habitat improvement.

Implementing the above activities will restore and open up approximately 31 miles of tributary upstream of Mecum Road for fish passage and improve approximately 4 miles of downstream habitat to the confluence of the main stem of the Manistee River. The stream will no longer be impounded, sand and sediment will be transported naturally, stream temperatures will recover, stream habitat recovers, and wild brook trout will be able to return to a reach that has been segmented for approximately 40 years.

This project will also improve the overall ecological health of the riparian corridor by working on habitat improvement and water quality protection with the relatively few private landowners along the North Branch and its tributaries. It is estimated that this project will work directly with several private landowners who own 1675-3000 acres of riparian habitat. Results of collaboration on this project will result in 15 acres of invasive species removed, three streambanks stabilized, eight sustainable forestry projects implemented on 300 acres, and 60 acres of native trees and shrubs planted.

Project Timeline: The Mecum Road fish passage project will be completed in 2011. The Flowing Well Trout Farm restoration and private land improvement are long-term projects that will be ongoing for at least the next 10 years.

Partners: The primary partner is the Conservation Resource Alliance (http://www.rivercare.org/), established in 1968. CRA is a private, non-profit organization that coordinates sensible stewardship of the land throughout northwest Michigan. CRA has facilitated natural resource conservation projects for over 42 years, tackling high-priority problems that threaten to degrade Michigan’s world-class waterways, landscapes, and rich wildlife diversity.

Other partners include the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Michigan Department of Environmental Quality; Kalkaska County Road Commission; Kalkaska County Conservation District; Upper Manistee River Restoration Committee, a grass-roots conservation organization; Trout Unlimited, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service; and Huron Pines.

The rest of the 10 “Waters to Watch” for 2011 include:

  • Alewife Brook/Scoy Pond, New York - (National Fish Habitat Partnership – Atlantic Coastal Fish Habitat Partnership)
  • Au Sable River, Michigan - (National Fish Habitat Partnership – Great Lakes Basin Fish Habitat Partnership)
  • Barrataria Bay, Louisiana – (National Fish Habitat Partnership – Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership)
  • Batten Kill River, New York - (National Fish Habitat Partnership – Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture)
  • Cottonwood Creek, Alaska – (National Fish Habitat Partnership – Mat-Su Basin Salmon Habitat Partnership)
  • Duchesne River, Utah - (National Fish Habitat Partnership – Desert Fish Habitat Partnership)
  • Llano River, Texas - (National Fish Habitat Partnership – Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership)
  • St. Charles Creek, Idaho - (National Fish Habitat Partnership – Western Native Trout Initiative)
  • Waipa Stream, Hawaii – (National Fish Habitat Partnership – Hawaii Fish Habitat Partnership)

The National Fish Habitat Action Plan is built on a framework of National Fish Habitat Partnerships. These regional-scale efforts include, the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership, Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture, the Western Native Trout Initiative, the Driftless Area Restoration Effort, the
Matanuska-Susitna Basin Salmon Habitat Partnership, the Southwest Alaska Salmon Habitat Partnership, the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership, the Desert Fish Habitat Partnership, the Hawaii Fish Habitat Partnership, the Kenai Peninsula Fish Habitat Partnership, the Fishers and Farmers Partnership, the Ohio River Basin Fish Habitat Partnership, the Great Plains Fish Habitat Partnership, the Great Lakes Basin Fish Habitat Partnership, the California Fish Passage Forum, the Reservoir Fisheries Habitat Partnership and the Atlantic Coastal Fish Habitat Partnership. There are also four “Candidate” Fish Habitat Partnerships that have stated their intent to apply for full NFHAP Board recognition.

The Action Plan has met its objective of establishing at least 12 Fish Habitat Partnerships by 2010 to help identify the causes of habitat declines and implement corrective initiatives for aquatic conservation and restoration, with 17 Fish Habitat Partnership currently working on the ground in aquatic conservation.
Since its launch six years ago, the Action Plan has received wide public support. To date nearly 1,700 partners have pledged their support including a range of organizations and individuals interested in the health of the nation’s fisheries such as fishing clubs, international conservation organizations, federal agencies, angling industries and academia.

These ten habitat conservation efforts highlighted in 2011 are a small sample of the many habitat conservation projects implemented under the Action Plan. The 2011, as well as past 10 “Waters to Watch” lists can be viewed at www.fishabitat.org along with complete information on the scope of the Action Plan.

About the National Fish Habitat Action Plan
The National Fish Habitat Action Plan is the most comprehensive effort ever attempted to voluntarily conserve freshwater, estuarine and marine waterways and habitat across the country. The Action Plan is a science-based investment strategy to conserve waterways and make conservation dollars stretch farther by combining federal and privately raised funds to build regional partnerships. For more information, visit www.fishhabitat.org.


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