Conservation Resource Alliance
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Wheeler Creek Dam Removal Project Update

March 8, 2010

The Manistee River is a State designated Natural River and federally designated Wild & Scenic River. Portions of the Manistee River are Blue Ribbon Trout Stream and it provides a popular fishery for steelhead, salmon, brook and brown trout. Wheeler Creek is one of the coldest, high quality tributaries to the Manistee and it is dominated by a self-sustaining population of brook trout. Wheeler Creek is heavily wooded and runs through large tracts of public lands with natural springs in its headwaters and near the confluence with the mainstem. Wheeler Creek is located in the middle portion of the entire watershed.
The main problem with Wheeler Creek was an aging and deteriorating dam near its confluence with the Manistee River. A dam was first built in this location by John Wheeler in 1867 and was the site of the first sawmill in the county. A couple fires occurred and a concrete dam was built in the 1940’s to provide power to nearby homes. The 20’ high concrete spillway and barrier were cracking and starting to break apart, and the stop logs were in poor shape. CRA and partners worked together to drawdown the ponds and remove the dam in the fall of 2009. Now with the dam successfully removed, the stream channel is restored and the risk of structural failure from high water events is no longer an issue. CRA will continue to work on stream restoration over the next year and monitor the site closely for 3-5 years.

Best Management Practices:
•Barrier removal
•Fieldstone placement (250 cubic yards)
•Grading and slope stabilization (topsoil placement & 500 sq. yds. mulch blanket)
•Sediment removal (1,446 sq.yds.)
•Whole tree revetments (200 lineal feet)
•Tree & shrub plantings
Project Benefits:
•Connected ecology of 7 miles of Wheeler Creek to the Manistee River.
•Natural movement of woody debris, substrate, aquatic insects, and fish throughout Wheeler Creek.
•Eliminate scouring of the streambed downstream of the former dam site.
•Eliminate risk of dam failure due to structural deficiencies.

Partners involved:
Conservation Resource Alliance, Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, Natural Resources Conservation Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Wade Trim, Molon Excavating & Kanouse Outdoor Restoration.

Project Costs
Soil Borings, Design & Engineering:$60,000
Construction & Restoration: $245,000
Contributors:
*Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division- Habitat Improvement Account $145,000
*National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration $80,000
*US Fish & Wildlife Service $70,000
*River Care Program $10,000


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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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