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Michigan fish will have more swimming space with the removal of 27 dams

Michigan will receive $5 million in grants for conservation projects and power connectivity efforts deemed critical to climate resilience and biodiversity protection.

Great Lakes State was among six applicants who received the maximum grant in the nonprofit National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s $1 billion America the Beautiful Challenge. The money will be used to remove 27 dams or other river barriers to restore natural pathways for native fish and other aquatic species in 14 counties.

In addition, the work is expected to benefit several endangered species, including the eastern Massasauga rattlesnake, the pickerel frog and freshwater mussel species such as the ridged clam and elktoe.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials will manage the grant-funded projects and work with local groups and Indigenous tribes to reconnect nearly 200 miles of rivers and streams upstream.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said Michigan’s natural resources are among the best in the nation and the state would work with everyone to preserve them for future generations.

“These federal grants to our inland waterways will help us protect several endangered species, reduce risks to public safety and improve climate resilience,” Whitmer said in a released statement.

DNR Director Dan Eichinger said the grant money would go a long way towards improving water and fish flow, which is vital to healthy rivers and streams, and boosting fish populations. He explained that removing barriers in streams allows fish and other aquatic life to move better to forage, reproduce, hide from predators and find shelter from harsh conditions.

“Put simply: fish and other organisms in the water have to move,” says Eichinger.

Streams where the grant money is paid for connectivity efforts include:

  • Twin Lakes Creek in Cheboygan County;
  • AuSable River in Crawford County;
  • Carr Creek, Dana Lake and Little Bay de Noc in Delta County;
  • Wycamp Creek in Emmet County;
  • Two Mile Creek in Gogebic County;
  • Boardman/Ottaway River in Grand Traverse County;
  • North Branch Cole Creek in Lake County;
  • Spring Creek in Luce County;
  • McAlpine Creek in Mackinac County;
  • Silver Lead Creek in Marquette County;
  • Little Muskegon River and Buckhorn Creek in Mecosta County;
  • Rocky Creek in Oceana County;
  • East Branch Big Creek and AuSable River in Oscoda County; and,
  • Hayden Creek in Van Buren County

Groups expected to become partners on the Stream projects include the Conservation Resource Alliance in Traverse City, Huron Pines in Gaylord, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Michigan Trout Unlimited, Muskegon River Watershed Assembly, Superior Watershed Partnership and Land Conservancy in Marquette and the US Forest Service.

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