Conservation Resource Alliance
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Program Slows Damage to Rivers

September 5, 2001

Rivers need repairs for damage caused by boating traffic, erosion, flood waters and angling foot traffic along their banks.
   
The Manistee River below Tippy Dam is a good example. Floods no longer occur due to the dam's constant water flow, but the other problems remain.

Conservation Resource Alliance of Traverse City is a nonprofit organization, and one of its efforts is the River Care Program. Through donations of equipment, money and time, River Care has made a considerable impact on the future of many streams flowing into Lake Michigan.

Ford Motor Company recently joined the River Care initiative to help maintain the ecological and economic value of more than 20 cold-water streams in northern Michigan, CRA director Amy Beyer said.

"Their $10,000 donation helped us conduct our flying tree' program to stabilize river bank erosion, provide more fish cover, add woody debris to the water, and to help us with other projects," she said.

The tree lift-and-place program took place last month when CRA formed an alliance with Consumers Energy, U.S. Forest Service, Department of Natural Resources and local Indian tribes. The task of placing more than 160 red pines into strategic locations below Tipsy Dam was accomplished with a Sikorsky BAH-44 helicopter.

Beyer said the helicopter lifted each 60- to 80-foot tree from a pine tree plantation a few miles away and transported them to the river. The root system was placed on the riverbank and the rest of the tree was dropped into the water.

"The purpose of the airlifted pines is to provide erosion controls, fish cover and provide woody debris that will eventually attract insects and provide food for gamefish," Beyer said.

She said the $250,000 project was also made possible by $200,000 from Consumers Energy and in-kind contributions of engineering, manpower and other services provided by partners.

Some people might question the woody debris in the water, but it is a natural part of any river's ecology.

"The woody debris provides aquatic habitat for invertebrates," DNR fisheries biologist Tom Rozich of Cadillac said. "It provides vital nutrients to the river water as it rots and breaks down. It will benefit brown trout and other fish in the Manistee River."

The cutting of red pines from a nearby plantation in the Manistee National Forest provided a good situation for the U.S. Forest Service as well.

"Removal of the trees will help generate additional growth within the new forest opening," USFS district ranger Gary Cole said.

The effort would have been impossible without the use of a helicopter furnished by Construction Helicopters Inc. of Ypsilanti. The pilot would hover over the tree to be moved and a steel cable was fastened to the tree.

"An extraordinary amount of work went into this project and it will be continued elsewhere on the Manistee River in the future," Beyer said.


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Conservation Resource Alliance

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

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