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Timber Bridge Over Carp River Dedicated

July 16, 2007

The new Oliver Road timber bridge over the Carp River in northern Emmet County was dedicated Friday, marking a cooperative effort of over 20 agencies and organizations over eight years to protect the water quality and fish habitat of the river, and the Hungerford’s crawling water beetle, an endangered species that makes its home along the river.
Conservation Resource Alliance (CRA) director Amy Beyer said the crossing on the road that divides rural Carp Lake and Wawatam townships had been identified as the single biggest negative impact to water quality and fish habitat in the Carp River, popular for steelhead and salmon fishing.
Engineered by Northwest Design Group of Petoskey, the bridge replaced a pair of aging culverts that funneled the fast-flowing Carp River under the road. Beyer said the bridge was the designed to facilitate fish passage, reduce sedimentation and eliminate the risk of crossing failure during floods.
Beyer said similar projects are planned for the Maple River, building on experience gained by the partners in Oliver Road project. While acknowledging that Oliver road is virtually unused, Beyer said that what is a priority for water quality and natural resources is not always directly in line with what is a priority for transportation and safety. “We wouldn’t expect the road commission to put this project at the top of their list. It is a low priority for transportation and safety. The fact that these guys put $80,000 worth of their own time, people and equipment into this bridge says that they care about water quality too,” she said. Beyer said the project was important enough from a natural resources perspective that it brought in funding of $100,000 federal money.
Jerry Keeney, who helps maintain the nearby North County Trail, said concern for the beetle first arose when Bob Van de Kopple, resident biologist at University of Michigan Biological Station on Douglas Lake, advised him that the road commission was pushing silt into the stream where the beetle was located. “I told Bob I’d see what I could do, and talked to the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council. Then the Conservation Resource Alliance got involved, and now we have the bridge,” Keeney said.
Howard Haselschwardt, president of Northwest Design Group, said the bridge design was new. “The stress-laminated bridge is built like a cutting board, with slabs of red pine and southern pine held together by a series bolts. It’s inexpensive, environmentally friendly and very efficient in distributing weight,” he said. Rick Westerhof of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the bridge opened up 11 miles of the river for salmon and steelhead. “This is what it’s about – it’s about habitat,” he said.
Emmet County Road Commission engineer-manager Brian Gutowski said his crew of eight built the bridge in only 40 days. He said Beyer had been able to extend funding when delays appeared to put the project in jeopardy. “We have two more projects on the Maple in the works and will work with the CRA on those,” he said.
Hal Chase, representing Michigan’s U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, said the senator has been working hard to bring funding into Great Lakes. “We can’t overlook the importance of little structures like this that flow into Lake Michigan. They impact the entire ecosystem,” he said.

Fred Gray can be contacted at 439-9374 or fgray@petoskeynews.com


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