New Project for the Ottaway’s (Boardman’s) North Branch, Broomhead Road

Sep 23, 2021

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Broomhead Road Crossing on the Ottaway (Boardman) River

The next improvement for the Ottaway (Boardman) River marks a transition in the watershed’s restoration. Located upstream from the Brown Bridge Quiet Area, an updated crossing at Broomhead Road will free access to critical, diverse habitats not seen lower in the watershed throughout 30 miles of the North Branch and tributaries upstream. The Broomhead Road crossing has caused a host of issues for the Ottaway River’s North Branch for decades. With a single, corrugated metal pipe culvert at only 1/3 of the river’s natural width, it has fragmented the river’s habitat and forced the North Branch to adjust. The stream’s severe velocity is nearly double what brook trout can practically handle and creates a barrier to fish upstream. Meanwhile, eroding streambanks have caused excess sediment to degrade the river’s aquatic habitat.

Design plans are complete and the EGLE permit is in-hand to replace the existing culvert at Broomhead Road with a channel spanning timber bridge. The project will renew the natural function of the stream and restore full aquatic passage for species like brook trout, which are abundant in the Ottaway but rarely grow larger than 8 inches. The cause of this is unknown, however, it’s suggested that their inability to freely move about the watershed may limit their development. This project will free access to diverse stream habitats in the watershed’s upper reaches and allow fish to take cover amongst riparian vegetation and find cool water during summer heatwaves and winter cold snaps. For more information about this project, contact DJ Shook at



Photo: A new crossing at Broomhead Road will allow brook trout and other species to freely access critical habitat in the upper reaches of the Ottaway’s North Branch.


54.4 square miles

River Miles

30 miles fo tributary opened to up for fish passage upstream of project site


Whitewater Township

Brook Trout

River Otter

Bald Eagles
Common Loons
Green Herons
Great Blue Herons

Projects like this are not possible without the help of our members and partners. We’d like to send a special “thank you” to:

Grand Traverse County Road Commission, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Bureau of Indian Affairs – Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Program, Michigan Department of Natural Resources – Fisheries Habitat Grant Program, Great Lakes Fishery Trust, United States Fish and Wildlife Service – National Fish Passage Program & Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Recovery Act, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation – Sustain Our Great Lakes, Oleson Foundation, Trout and Salmon Foundation, Grand Traverse Conservation District, The Watershed Center-Grand Traverse Bay, Adams Chapter of Trout Unlimited, KPM Engineering

Help revitalize the Ottaway River by showing your support today!