Safeguarding one of Michigan’s Finest Blue Ribbon Trout Streams

Sep 26, 2023

Project Highlights

Project Type

Streambank Stabilization, Habitat Enhancement, Floodplain Restoration

River Miles to be Restored

65 Miles Downstream Protected

Location of Project

Baldwin, Michigan

Wildlife to be Benefited

Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Coho Salmon, Chinook Salmon, Spotted Turtle, semi-aquatic reptiles and amphibians, and cold-water aquatic macroinvertebrates

Location

Project Overview

The Pere Marquette (PM) is primarily considered one of Michigan’s most pristine rivers. The Blue Ribbon Trout Stream is highly regarded for its world-class fishing and beauty. Aiming to keep it that way, CRA and numerous project partners have recently wrapped up a critical project within the watershed.

The newly restored site is just a few hundred yards north of the Flint Rainbow Club in Baldwin, MI. Before restoration, the PM’s natural channel movement had been encroaching towards a railroad embankment for years, exposing highly erodible sediments and presenting a severe slope stability concern.

 

Before: The eroding bank threatens nearly 65 miles of the Pere Marquette River downstream of the site.

Before: CRA Program Director Kimberly Balke examines the erosion from across the river.

Before: The severity of the site is detailed as a train passes on top of the eroding embankment.

After successful permitting and design phases, thanks to funding from Pere Marquette Watershed Council and other key River Care funders, construction crews (Knoop Excavating) broke ground in November 2023! 

Project Goals:

  • Stabilize the streambank slope.
  • Minimize sediment loading to the river.
  • Enhance fish habitat within the site.
  • Route the river away from the railroad tracks and embankment and restore 50’ channel width

We are thrilled to report that the collective has met all three goals.

During: Crews load fieldstone into a staging bucket to be placed along 350 liner feet of the outside river bend

During: A long reach excavator is used to place the fieldstone.

During: A drone captures the excavator in action as well as the beginning of the shaping process of the inside bend.

Just over 600 cubic yards of fieldstone were placed along 350 linear feet of the river’s outer base, stabilizing the streambank and reducing sediment loading. In addition, the contractors recessed root wads into the fieldstone and placed other large wood debris along the river’s newly shaped inside bend, re-establishing a floodplain bench and increasing fish and wildlife habitat. 

Thanks to every partner and funder, the joint effort is one of the most impactful restoration projects in the river’s history. Nearly 65 miles of downstream river have been safeguarded, ensuring generation enjoyment of the widely used Pere Marquette River.

After: Fieldstone now serves as a brace for the outside bend, and large woody debris secures and provides habitat for the inside bend. 

Projects like this are not possible without the help of our funders and partners.

We’d like to send a special thank you to:

Funders:

The Brookby Foundation, DTE Energy Foundation, Walters Family Foundation, Andrew R. and Janet F. Miller Foundation, The George Fund, Pere Marquette Watershed Council, Pere Marquette Trout Unlimited, FlyFishers International, Lake County Community Foundation, Little River Band of Ottawa Indians- Bureau of Indian Affairs Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Fund, Great Lakes Fishery Trust, MDNR Fisheries Habitat Program, Genesee & Wyoming INC, U.s. Fish & Wildlife Service- Great Lakes Basin Fish Habitat Program, Lake County Community Foundation, FlyFishers International, Individual Donors.

Partners Involved:

Flint Rainbow Club, Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Great Lakes Fishery Trust, MDNR, MEGLE, Genesee & Wyoming INC., Marquette Rail LLC,  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, AECOM, Knoop Excavating Services, Conservation Resource Alliance, Flint Rainbow Club, Pere Marquette Watershed Council, Pere Marquette Trout Unlimited, FlyFishers International, Lake County Community Foundation