Restoring the Prized Tributaries of the Platte River
Since 2019, CRA, Benzie County Road Commission and partners have collectively restored nine crossings within the Platte River Watershed, including sites on the North Branch as well as Kinney, Brundage, Little Platte Lake and Carter creeks. Outdated metal culverts, boilerplate pipes and cracking concrete structures had been laid over some of the most pristine streams in Benzie County. Many of these aging structures obstructed streambeds, creating waterfalls too strong for the upstream passage of young fish and sensitive species like brook trout and sculpin. In addition, near-vertical roadbed embankments funneled excess stream sedimentation during rain and snowmelt. This dumped an estimated 25 tons of sediment each year that buried instream gravel beds and large woody debris, while filling deep holes needed for healthy fish and aquatic insect habitat. To restore water clarity and fish habitat, CRA and partners secured grant and match dollars, funding the design and build of a timber bridge, three bottomless arches and five recessed elliptical and box culverts.
The Platte River Watershed today now features:
· Healthier fish. More than 10 miles of upstream reaches are now fully reconnected with 19 miles of downstream tributaries and the Platte River mainstem, along with Little and Big Platte lakes. Full passage for all aquatic species at all life stages during ordinary and high-water flows is now a reality.
· Less blockage. New structures span the natural stream widths, allowing for the movement of gravel, sand and fallen trees and leaves.
· Clearer water. Runoff is diverted to nearby low areas and away from the streams via roads that are crowned, paved or supplemented with diversion spillways.
· Less erosion. Gradually sloped, stabilized and revegetated road embankments have been constructed, eradicating the annual estimated 25 tons of sediment dumped into the watershed.
Projects like this are not possible without the help of our members and partners. We’d like to send a special “thank you” to:
Conservation Resource Alliance, Great Lakes Fishery Trust, Oleson Foundation, Walters Family Foundation, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program with Natural Resources Conservation Service, Benzie County Road Commission, Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service through the Great Lakes Fish & Wildlife Restoration Act and Fish Passage Programs, Freshwater Future Healing Our Waters – Great Lakes Coalition Program, Benzie Conservation District, Platte Lake Improvement Association, Trout and Salmon Foundation, Adams Chapter of Trout Unlimited, KPM Engineering, PLLC, CRA’s River Care Program supported by DTE Energy Foundation, The George Fund, Andrew R. and Janet F. Miller Foundation, Serra Family Foundation, and Packaging Corporation of America.