Conservation Resource Alliance
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Otter Creek Timber Bridge Project

March 8, 2010

Otter Creek is a first order stream flowing completely within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and emptying into Lake Michigan. Deer, Bass and Otter Lakes collectively supply Otter Creek as they all share surface water connections. Otter Creek is classified by the MDNR as a type 1 trout stream and has a naturally reproducing population of brook trout. There is potential for the brook trout population to contain a migratory element to and from Lake Michigan. The stream is considered very unique, in that it appears that brook trout thrive despite its direct migratory access to anadromous Pacific salmonids from Lake Michigan, which typically out compete brook trout in other systems. The only significant problem site on Otter Creek was the Aral Road crossing, a site comprised of two 48” diameter culverts that were undersized, corroding, and susceptible to constant beaver activity. A hiking/skiing trail, fire and hunting access required that a crossing be installed that accommodated vehicle traffic. Grand Traverse Band, CRA and Benzie County Road Commission worked together to fund, design and construct a timber bridge at the crossing. Ironically, a wooden bridge was originally there when the logging town of Aral existed on Otter Creek in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Best Management Practices:
•Timber bridge 18’ wide with timber pilings driven 20’ deep to accommodate 20’ of marl soils & timber guardrail
•Fieldstone placement & revegetation

Project Benefits:
•Reconnect 2 miles of Otter Creek
•Restore fish passage both upstream & downstream
•Restore natural movement of woody debris & sediment upstream & downstream of site.
•Ensure safe roadway for vehicle traffic
•Reduce road maintenance needs
•Halt annual input of up to 5 tons of sediment from roadbed

Partners involved:
Conservation Resource Alliance, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Benzie County Road Commission, National Park Service – Sleeping Bear Dunes Lakeshore, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians.

Project Cost: $84,107

Contributors:
*EPA Targeted Watershed Initiative with the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians $49,458
*USDA - Conservation Innovation Grant with the Little Traverse Bay Bands $15,000
*The Oleson Foundation $10,000
*CRA's River Care Program $1,860
*Benzie County Road Commission $7,789


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Conservation Resource Alliance

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10850 Traverse Highway, Suite 1180
Traverse City, MI 49684
231-946-6817

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