Conservation Resource Alliance
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The Betsie River is Awarded Over Half a Million Dollars and Draws Interest From 100 Landowners

August 13, 2001

The Conservation Resource Alliance (CRA) is pleased to announce the recent grant awards of $474,309 from the State's Clean Michigan Initiative (CMI) and $104,260 from the Michigan Department of Transportation's Enhancement Program to improve water quality and control erosion in the Betsie River Watershed. Together, the grants will enable CRA, the Benzie County Road Commission and Betsie River Watershed Restoration Committee to repair up to 5 eroding road/stream crossings on the Little Betsie and Dair Creek, and finish streambank stabilization at 12 sites on the mainstream up to Homestead Dam. The project is anticipated to begin in September of 2001 and will extend through August of 2004. Local match in the form of volunteer efforts, road commission support, field equipment and River Care donations will roughly total an additional $100,000. Streambank stabilization has been on-going on the Betsie for 11 years now under the partnership of 25 different agencies, organizations and groups that form the Betsie River Watershed Restoration Committee, with CRA providing grant administration and technical assistance. This initial effort has cost approximately $500,000 in state, federal, private dollars and local match, involved the stabilization of 61 eroding streambanks, the placement of 4,130 cubic yards of rock, over 40,000 seedling plantings, and 5,900 lineal feet of streambank. Eroding streambanks and outdated road/stream crossings are the major sources of sediment to the Betsie River, as with most northwest Michigan rivers. Large amounts of sand or sediment bury the gravel beds needed for fish spawning and aquatic insect habitat, fill in streams making them wide and shallow and susceptible to dangerously high water temperatures in the summer, and choke out the smaller coldwater tributaries like Dair Creek and the Little Betsie that provide coldwater habitat for trout and steelhead smolts. In 2000 the Conservation Resource Alliance completed a watershed-wide inventory of road/stream crossings on the Betsie River and identified 103 culverts and bridges in need of over $2.1 million in repairs. Many of the culverts and bridges we see today were installed over 50 years ago when water quality was not a major concern and local support of river management was minimal or non-existent. Today, CRA cooperates with many county Road Commissions on crossing repair projects for rivers like the Pine, Manistee, and Pere Marquette Rivers. With over 100 people in attendance at the first Betsie River Landowner Open House on July 14, 2001, CRA staff and the Restoration Committee members were able to meet landowners, announce the new grant awards, and discuss the problems and issues concerning the Betsie River. "We are very excited to finally get grant funding of this scale for the Betsie River, " says Kimberly Kook, CRA biologist, "With increased communication among landowners and the Restoration Committee partners, the work resulting from these grants will help build a strong network of people in the Betsie Watershed. After 11 years of work completed on the Betsie, I am still meeting landowners that don't have a clue what the Restoration Committee is or what habitat improvement projects we've done!" Presentations and project updates were given by Kimberly Kook, CRA biologist, Heather Rigney, Land Protection Specialist with the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy and Sean Duperron, Betsie Valley Trailway Manager. MSU Extension Groundwater Program and Manistee and Benzie Conservation Districts also had informational booths. Over 30 door prizes were donated by area businesses, with the grand prize of a framed mayfly prints set donated by local artist, Richard Forrest. Established in 1968, the Conservation Resource Alliance (CRA) is a private, non-profit organization headquartered in Traverse City, Michigan. CRA has had an especially active role in watershed restoration the last 12 years, working throughout a 13-county region in northwest Michigan with local partners in streambank stabilization, road/stream crossing repair, fish and wildlife habitat improvements, and erosion inventory projects. For more information on CRA and our River Care efforts please contact us at (231) 946-6817, e-mail at: cra@traverse .com or visit the website at www.rivercare.org.


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Conservation Resource Alliance

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10850 Traverse Highway, Suite 1180
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231-946-6817

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