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Current Watershed Projects

Stabilizing Riverbanks

Stabilizing the sloughing river bank where the railroad crosses the river south of Baldwin. We are part of the team assembled to tackle this issue, and the principal funder of the engineering study to recommend the best practice to remediate the eroding bank.

                                                                                             Phosphorous Monitoring

The PMWC has conducted three samplings at 13 road/stream crossings to establish phosphorous levels in the Pere Marquette and some tributaries.

                                                                                               Fish Habitat Inventory

We are working with Michigan TU (Trout Unlimited) and the Conservation Resource Alliance to inventory the fish habitat on select sections of the river.

Right-of-Way Trimming

Safe navigation balanced with "wild & scenic" experience.

Each Spring, a group floats the Pere Marquette River to inventory the trees that have been downed by the winter weather. The objective is to maintain a navigable stream while maintaining the natural and wild experience. Coordinated by the PMWC, the United States Forest Service (USFS), Natural River’s administrator, several fishing guides and canoe livery personnel float sections of the river to selectively cut obstructive limbs and trees. Regulations stipulate an 8 foot wide passage. Safe canoe, kayak and drift boat travel is balanced with maintaining a natural river corridor.  Trees that require cutting are placed adjacent to the riverbanks creating cover for fish habit

River Intern  Program

This is a cooperative program between the USFS, PMWC and local universities begun in 2009.  To date, Ferris State University (FSU), West Shore Community College (WSCC) and other local university Criminal Justice majors have been selected by the USFS for a summer internship targeting the improvement of behaviors on the Pere Marquette River.  After training by the Forest Service, the interns work primarily on weekends either on the river or at access sites.  They support local law enforcement by monitoring behavior of canoeists and fisherman in the river corridor.  Each intern now receives a $2,500 scholarship solely provided by PMWC.  The program is active for 2017.

Past Projects

Co-Op Student Projects

The PMWC River Clean-Up Project in 2008, with partners Baldwin Canoe Rental and the USFS, provided transportation and access for 27 FSU honors students to collect stream garbage along almost 20 miles of river in a single day.   The project was made possible by a grant to Sweetwater Township from Michigan’s Volunteer River, Stream and Creek Clean-up Program and funds from the Township.

To complete the 2009 Howard Johnson bank stabilization project, PMWC needed to hand-place many tons of fieldstone on an eroding bank where a wooden structure had failed.  Under the supervision of PMWC Council members, 38 FSU honors students placed 70 tons of field stone on an eroding riverbank to curb the ongoing erosion.  The result was so enticing that trout and drifting fishermen occupied the site during a forced break.  PMWC Past Director Grant Snider stated that “this project is important for the students, because they can see we have a lot of great resources in Michigan and that they can help take care of the environment in the future.  It’s another one of those great projects that Ferris (State University) does that is consistent with the values as a partner in the community.”

PMWC is planning for future CO-OP projects with Ferris State University as well as West Shore Community College and others.

Riparian Rehab Program

The Riparian Rehabilitation Program (Riparian Rehab) was conceived and developed in 2002 by PMWC Directors Paul Bigford and Fred McLane to serve as an educational resource and financial catalyst for property owners on the river who wanted to correct conditions on their property which adversely affected the river.  The intent was to develop a program by which the Pere Marquette Watershed Council would be a resource tool for riparians who wanted to improve their stream bank property.  Minimizing sediment delivery to the river is crucial to preserving spawning habitat and the production of micro invertebrates.  Under program guidelines, individuals can learn about acceptable stream bank stabilization techniques; erosion control remedies; DNR permit processes; recommended contractors; and also can apply for limited matching financial assistance.

The program was initially funded with “seed” monies from the Pere Marquette Watershed Council (PMWC) and later funded by a generous contribution of $15,000 from Ludington’s Dow Chemical in 2003.  Since that time, over $150,000 (90% Riparian-10% Riparian Rehab Fund monies) has been spent on improving deteriorating banks and correcting erosion problems on all branches of the Pere Marquette River system, which ultimately improve the resource.  

 

A Stabilization-Permit-Process pamphlet was created by Paul Bigford to assist riparians as to the permitting process, how to request the assistance PMWC and explains the availability of financial aid.  PMWC has established a committee that completes field investigations of prospective sites and coordinates with restoration contractors the cost estimates and timelines for interested landowners.  This committee then makes recommendations to the entire PMWC Board for grant approvals in conjunction with Landowners commitment. Once approved by the Board of Directors, PMWC provides a monetary grant to the landowner to cover a portion of the cost.  This typically is targeted at 10% of the project cost.

Today, the program is supported with internal PMWC funds and a donation from OxyChem Corporation.  We invite individuals seeking assistance or wanting to make a donation to this program to contact us.

MDNR Electro-Shocking

“I absolutely could not believe what I was seeing.  I knew trout were prone to seeking shelter and hiding – but WOW!” exclaimed PMWC Director Dave Gabrielson during a recent electro-shocking process on the Pere Marquette River.

PMWC has been assisting the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (and Environment) (MDNR) for years with their electro-shocking program on the PM River in the area of the confluence with the Baldwin River .  This flies-only section of the river has been subjected to electro-shocking for several years – with records available since 1997.  Each year, usually in late summer, the MDNR with the help from PMWC directors and friends wade the river three times each of two days.  Using a small wooden boat outfitted with a portable electrical generator, current is transferred, via cables, to DNR employees who probe with long electrodes into fish habitat areas.  The electrical current temporarily shocks all fish species, causing them to rise to the top of the water.  They are netted by PMWC volunteers and transported to the DNR measuring stations where they are identified, measured, fins clipped, scales scraped with all the data being recorded prior to their release back into the river.

The data collected each year is compared with that of prior years.  The results support that habitat preservation and restoration directly relates to improved fish population.  For additional information please see the Mainstream Newsletter Articles from Fall 2008, Fall 2009, and Fall 2010 and the MDNR’s electro-shocking data from 1997 through 2008.

The MDNR has established a new program of electro-shocking of the main stem of the Pere Marquette River – three years on/three years off. 

In August of 2011 the MDNR electroshocked the Little South Branch of the Pere Marquette River in two locations.  The following is an article by Richard (Dick) Schwikert summarizing PMWC’s understanding of the data collected. 

Although the mainstream will not be electroshocked until 2014, MDNR will continue to survey fish counts on the tributaries this year and next. The week of August 15th fisheries biologists (aided by GVSU fisheries students, Cadillac probationary youths, and Watershed Council members) collected data from two Little South branch index stations, one at Taylor Bridge/James Road, and at the Forks Public Access Site. Measurements were also taken of the stream widths and depths, as well as Large Woody Debris locations, diameters, and lengths.

Observations from the two areas surveyed indicate a proportional increase in the numbers of Brown Trout vs. Rainbows since the last surveys done in 200l – 2002. A total of 225 Browns were counted, roughly 60% (191) at Taylor Bridge vs. 40% at the Forks. However the larger fish were at the Forks with 61 being 10” or larger while Taylor Bridge had only 40 over 10”. The largest at Taylor was 15” while the Forks had  five 15” or over, the largest at 18”. A total of 297 Rainbows were seen, all being 9” or less; most if not all will likely out-migrate to the Big Lake to become Steelhead.

A resurgence is being seen in the number of salmon smolts counted, especially the number of Cohos. A total of 402 young-of-the-year were seen with over 80% being at the Taylor Bridge location. Conjecture has it that the Coho are undergoing evolution as we watch them. They appear to be spawning later each Fall, with two reports of spawning activity in late April. Local news outlets also note the charter boats in Lake Michigan are reporting numerous Coho over 30 pounds when few that size were seen in recent years. Also there were 37 small Chinook or King salmon observed. This refutes the adage that salmon return to the river where they were spawned, as no salmon were planted in the Pere Marquette. Also recorded were suckers, two small panfish, and no bass or pike … Good news here.

                                                                              Restoration Partnership Erosion Control

Sand, the primary pollutant in most of Michigan’s rivers and streams, was noticeably reducing trout reproduction in the 1970’s.  Blame, rightly or not, was attributed to the canoeists who delighted in tobogganing down embankments, destroying vegetation.  A stream-bank inventory was completed  in 1985 between The Forks (confluence of the Little South and the Middle Branch of the Pere Marquette River) to Walhalla identifying, measuring and grading each site as to severity. 

A proposal was made to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) to stabilize and re-vegetate each site.  Over a 10 year period beginning in 1986, the MDNR contributed $1,000,000 towards the project and the United States Forest Service (USFS) $440,000  for sites on their lands.  A partnership was  formed between the following organizations to complete the Restoration Partnership Erosion Control Project.  

  • Pere Marquette Watershed Council (Chair)

  • Michigan Council of Trout Unlimited

  • Michigan Department of Natural Resources

  • United States Forest Service

  • Mason-Lake Soil Conservation (now NRCS)

  • Northwest Michigan RC&D (now Conservation Resource Alliance CRA)

  • 1992 Restoration Float Tour

Sites were ranked as minor, moderate, or severe and work proceeded downstream, worst first.  A total of 172 sites were armored with field stone rip-rap and re-vegetated with native shrubs, trees and bushes to block the canoe slides. 

1992 Restoration Work

1995 Restoration Work

A total of 23,700 cubic yards of rocks were placed to stabilize the toe of the bank on 30,800 lineal feet of frontage (5.83 miles).  The “Last Rock” memorial sits atop the hill overlooking Rainbow Rapids.

Last Rock Ceremony August 1997

Bob Nicholson, Last Rock Ceremony


                                                                                                River Clean-up Projects

The Council has organized multiple river clean-up sessions over the years to purge the Pere Marquette River of cans, bottles, plastic and many strange and unexpected objects. Using canoes, kayaks and drift boats as well as walking the roads and public access sites, PMWC and friends have worked to keep everybody’s river as pristine as possible. Ferris State University Honors Students volunteered to assist PMWC with a river clean-up project, bringing conservation issues in focus for young people. These activities often occur on or about Earth Day and we invite your participation at further clean-ups.

                                                                                           Baldwin Storm Drain Project

For many years those of us who love our rivers have been concerned that what formerly were called “street sewers” dumped their untreated water straight into our rivers.  Minutes of the Pere Marquette Watershed Council from July 12, 1982, indicate that PMWC, in cooperation with the Lake County Riverside Property Owners Association (LCRPOA), stated that “Sand and pollutants render rivers sterile”.  During the 1990’s the LCRPOA painted all of the village storm drains with the warning “Do Not Dump Waste – Runs Directly to River”.  After 27 years of effort, we finally reached a breakthrough to protect the Baldwin River. 

                                                                                              Tank Creek Dam Removal

A small dam on Tank Creek, a feeder stream to the Pere Marquette River in western Lake County

breached twice in 2008.  After heavy rain events water flow caused a deep gully to be cut across the dam in two places.  The entire flow of the creek was moving through the dam body itself,  rather that the overflow pipe designed to perform that function.  Sediment was washing into the outflow stream at an alarming rate.  Dam failure appeared to be imminent.  Downstream of the dam the stream flowed under a county road as well as a railroad crossing – both of which were vulnerable if the dam broke.

PMWC, with the assistance of Kim Balke of Conservation Resource Alliance (CRA) approached the landowner.  He expressed interest in removing the dam to resolve the environmental concerns at hand.  Ms. Balke requested proposals from engineers and contractors and then sought grants from various sources to assist in the project.  The project was budgeted at $30,000.   $20,000 of the project was funded from the United States Forest Service (USFS) ARRA (aka “stimulus”) funds, with the remaining amount split equally between PMWC and the landowner.

With this support, the leaking and failing earthen dam was removed and the natural stream bed was re-established.  This two-phased project took place in 2009 and 2010.  The impoundment was drained, dam removed and Tank Creek returned to its natural state as part of Phase I of the project.  Phase II of the project entailed the Lake County Road Commission’s (LCRC) rebuilding of the road/stream crossing.  Again ARRA monies were utilized.  The lowering and replacement of a culvert to allow for the migration of trout and salmon was key.  Combined with the dam’s removal, the natural and original spawning beds are now accessible, restoring one small portion of one small tributary on one magnificent river.


                                                                                                             Sand-traps

Most aquatic conservationists agree that sand is the major “pollutant” in Michigan’s rivers and streams.  In the early 1970’s a study was done at Hunt Creek to determine exactly the impact of sand on trout reproduction.  The conclusions verified their concerns as it was shown that sand destroys what trout like: deep pools, gravel riffles, cold water; it sandblasts large woody debris smooth (destroying insect habitat); it scours and buries the substrate and fills the pools and channels. 

As a result the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) and United States Forest Service (USFS) installed numerous of these sediment basins throughout the state.  At one time over 160 sandtraps were being maintained on an annual basis.  The Pere Marquette Watershed Council became involved in 1993 assisting the MDNR in maintaining the Bell Sandtrap on PM’s Little South Branch.  Through 2010, the partners have removed 17,826 cubic yards of sand, the equivalent of a football field covered with 13.41 feet of sand.  Following removal of the sand, the pad was prepared and then seeded by PMWC volunteers. 

PMWC has also been active in the cleaning of the Turk Trap on the PM Middle Branch as well as monitoring the maintenance of the sandtrap on the Baldwin River’s. 

In 2010 both state and federal agencies announced that all statewide sandtrap maintenance would be abandoned.  The PMWC and the Pine River Watershed Restoration Committee co-hosted a symposium September 21, 2010 in Traverse City to determine what is known now about sand, what will be the impact of abandonment and what alternatives will be available to protect our waters. 

The symposium surprised many attendees, revealing the decision was not just economical, but also ecological.  Presenters were Jim Segelman – PhD Army Corps of Engineers, hydrology and limnology; Todd Wills – MDNRE Hunt Creek fish biologist; Troy Zorn, PhD MDNRE; and Chuck Bassett – USFS. 

The findings were that: 

  • Traps can be made to be very effective, designed for capturing coarse sand or “fines” (clay, silt), and if located properly.

  • Traps are most effective in their early year and lose efficiency over time (despite cleanings).

  • Traps affect stream morphology (depth and width) both upstream and down.  Streams deepen more upstream than down, widths also change, not as much but more upstream.

  • Without question, effective traps benefit trout, when maintained.

  • When new types are installed, habitat downstream improves first. Increased fish population follows two to three years later.

  • Consensus is developing that placement of large woody debris (LWD) is now more effective than sandtraps, producing a more lasting effect.

In summary, sandtraps may not make sense financially or ecologically anymore.  It appears that the current focus should be on preserving the river’s natural characteristics, placing Large Woody Debris (LWD) strategically, repairing old fish cover structures, and using our dollars more wisely to improve riverine habitat. A 2011 update from Eric Lewis, member of the board of directors, PMWC. 

SAND TRAPS GOOD . . . OR BAD

  Since the early 90s the PMWC has been involved with the operation of two sand-traps (sediment basins) in the Pere Marquette watershed. The Bell trap was installed in the Little South Branch in 1993 upstream from James St. near Merrilville Road by the MDNR. It was 385 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 6 feet deep. The Turk trap was installed by the PMWC on the Middle Branch of the PM just below Queens Highway in 1996. It was 122 feet long, 27 feet wide and 6 feet deep. 

The Turk trap was installed above several long runs of gravel and cobble on the Middle Branch and was deliberately designed as a study area by the PMWC. It was named after the well-known and legendary conservation officer (retired) Chuck Turk, who is also on the board of directors of the PMWC. The trap was emptied once a year and often twice a year after installation, yielding 200-300 cubic yards of sand on average per year – twenty to thirty 10-cubic yard dump trucks. 

The Bell trap on the Little South Branch was much larger and yielded prolific amounts of sand, averaging around 1,000 cubic yards a year. The PMWC website contains a history of this trap and description of the enormous mountain of sand removed from the Bell trap over the years. 

Several years ago the PMWC board began to ask if the continued maintenance and expense of these two sand-traps were scientifically justified. Serious erosion sites and poor road-crossings upstream on both rivers had been largely addressed over the years, and there were no known major agricultural or industrial inputs of sediment pollution. We asked the district MDNR fish biologist to review both traps and advise us on the wisdom of continuing the maintenance. As a result of that investigation and on-going evolution of knowledge about sand-traps on Michigan trout streams, the PMWC decided to decommission both traps in 2009. Simultaneously, both the U.S.F.S. and the MDNR announced that they would end sand trap construction and maintenance at all of their sites, with few exceptions. A USFS officer here in Baldwin summarized it like this – paraphrasing: “a lot of money and effort have been invested over decades now by both government and non-government organizations to fix road crossings, drains, erosion sites and deforested areas to remedy man-made sand pollution of our rivers. The time has now come to stop (the expensive) maintenance of these artificial sand-traps in the rivers here because we’ve accomplished what we set out to do.”

The popularity of sand-trap techniques in mid-west trout streams started in the early 70s with the famous experiments on Hunt Creek in northern Michigan. The MDNR deliberately dumped large amounts of sand into a high-quality trout stream to study the effects on trout. Prior to then it was widely assumed that sand pollution damaged trout reproduction and survival, but there was little empirical data. The results were as expected, both for fish and smaller organisms. After those studies, sand-traps became widespread in Michigan. 

Since then, on-going long-term studies in both Michigan and Wisconsin began to show that sand-trap techniques were a lot more complicated than earlier understood. In some cases, the traps do no good. In others there is some benefit. In others, they can damage a stream. In nearly every case, they do not remove the finest, lightest particles, which can be very damaging to the biologically active gravel interstitial spaces of the substrate, the hyperheos. And, they are expensive to maintain. 

At the Bell trap, in particular, the PMWC directors kept asking: what is the source of all these football fields full of sand removed from this trap? Someone said: “if you build it they will come.” In the great movie-“Temple Grandin”- the girl character insistently asks her mother at an open-casket funeral: “But where do they go?” We kept asking: Where does it come from? There were no longer any known major man-made inputs of sand upstream in the Little South Branch, or the Middle Branch. Is it “natural” bed-load or something else? (Sediments are moved two ways in a stream, lighter particles may travel in suspension for long distances – heavier particles move constantly along the surface of the river bed, mostly in high-water events, and are called “bed-load.”) 

All rivers have a “natural” bed-load of sand/sediment. Figuring out what is natural and what is not turns out to be a hugely complex question in many of our trout streams. Everyone has an opinion, but only those trained in hydrology, geology, sedimentology and other specialized fields are really qualified to render them. Detailed, scientifically defensible studies are very expensive and must be tailored to each stream. To complicate matters more, these rivers, like a living organism, need some level of continuing input of sand and sediment in order to maintain their physical and biological integrity. If too much natural bed-load of sediment is removed from a river, it will become “sediment-starved” and seek ways to replace it, causing in-stream bank erosion, widening and shallowing of the stream, and other damaging morphological changes which negatively impact fish. 

This growing scientific knowledge is even forcing us to question how, when, and why to actively pursue bank stabilization and other erosion control projects along the PM River system. The recurring question always remains: is a particular erosion site part of a “natural” process or somehow man-made? We know the impacts of the logging era (and some would also include the extirpation of the beaver which are now allowed to thrive only in some areas) are still affecting some streams, but it is difficult to impossible to know what the “natural” regime would be without those impacts. Some man-made impacts are obvious – washed out road crossings, poorly designed bridges, livestock in the stream, dams, etc. Emerging scientific consensus is that deforestation and agricultural activity in a watershed causes pulses of rain water to enter the streams without the natural buffering and storage of the water by heavy tree or vegetative growth. This in turn causes a river to become “flashier” and results in channel erosion, widening, and shallowing of the river. In the report by DNR fish biologists Rich O’Neal and Todd Wills (2010), which was issued at the request of the PMWC, they commented: 

“Another consideration with removing natural sand bedload from Michigan streams is the potential for increasing bed and bank erosion. These types of effects may not be visible for many years after sediment removal begins. *** “The issue of increased bank erosion becomes even more of a concern considering the extensive artificial bank stabilization that has occurred in the [P.M] over the past 25 years. Bank stabilization using rip-rap or similar hard materials is not recommended because it changes natural shoreline characteristics. Bank erosion is a natural process and should be viewed from that perspective.” Fish Population and Sediment Control Summaries for the Pere Marquette River, 3/17/10, p.6. 

In their closing comments O’Neal and Wills offered their own recommendations on what our focus should be for the PM watershed: “Habitat management activities should consider a broad range of landscape issues including protecting and increasing forest cover, controlling urban sprawl, increasing riparian setbacks, and reducing artificial drainage. Channel work should be focused on preservation of natural river characteristics, restoring wood structure, removal of dams and evaluation of other artificial alterations.” 

The PMWC has been actively involved in most of these management recommendations for a long time now. (Restoration of more woody structure in the PM watershed is important to a healthy fishery for a lot of reasons. In the tributaries this can be done as much as resources allow, but in the main branch it is more difficult where restoration of “natural” conditions conflicts with navigation and commercial interests.) 

Although we are still keeping an open mind about some of the conclusions and recommendations of O’Neal and Wills, we have learned a lot from their report, and are grateful for their willingness to evaluate these two sand traps for us. When you stop asking questions, you stop learning. It is pretty clear that our maintenance of sand-traps on the PM system has, at least for now, come to a close. We are also grateful to retired DNR biologist Andy Nuhfur, who has agreed to independently monitor the Turk trap for us for several years into the future so we can objectively measure if the high-quality spawning habitat there changes following the decommissioning of the Turk trap.


                                                                                                   Jarvis (Forks Project)

In the 1930’s a photographer from Grand Rapids would frequently camp along the Pere Marquette River to fish his favorite stretch – just below the Forks.  Following the Second World War he purchased one of the few private sites between the Forks and M-37 and built his dream cabin across from the Shrine of the Pines.  He was active on the Watershed Council’s Board of Directors and kept vigil over his favorite waters.  In their Last Wills, Jack and Lillian Jarvis left a $20,000 bequest to PMWC for habitat improvement in this section of the river.

In 2005 and 2006 the PMWC undertook the first phase of adding more fish cover.  Two large tree deflectors were floated into place, a platform structure constructed on the shoreline, two artificial log jams created and two island structures were situated in a faster flowing reach of the river.  Two differing designs were tested on the island platforms, one with open flow through the base, with the second standing on a firm solid base.

Phase Two of the Jarvis project was completed in 2008 and consisted of additionally created or improved structures.  They were designed to provide enhanced fish habitat cover, to reduce bank erosion and to improve gradient flow by narrowing stream width in some locations.  The work consisted of placing and securing clusters of logs along stream edges, construction of island structures with “jetted” posts and an overhead “roof” of rocks and vegetation just above the water line and covered lunker structures along streambank to provide deep water cover for resident trout.

The project was coordinated by Kim Balke of Conservation Resource Alliance (CRA) and was completed at a cost of $12,300.

PMWC will continue to monitor the benefits of the installed habitat structures with an eye towards further improvements.  The remaining funds are earmarked for future projects on the Pere Marquette River between The Forks and M-37.


                                                                                              Big South Project

In the 1970’s the Ludington Pumped Storage Project (LPSP, the “project”) was constructed by Detroit Edison and Consumers Power utilities.  Part of the permit agreement and subsequent litigation was to provide for fish killed as Lake Michigan water is pumped up into the 380’ reservoir at night, and released to power the turbines when energy is needed during the day.  The Great Lakes Fishery Trust  (GLFT) was established to distribute grants for the trust for improving fisheries throughout the state; although varying due to on-going fish mortality counts, the trust was to allot over $75 million (now $2.5M/year, 25 years).  In 1998, first year for awards, the Pere Marquette Watershed Council received $750,000  from GLFT to demonstrate “increased spawning opportunities for salmonids, adding to the naturally reproduced population in Lake Michigan”, arguing our river is most proximally impacted by the fish kill. 

The PMWC program, named the Big South Habitat Improvement Project (Big South Project), was coordinated by Director Robert “Bob” Nicholson. Mainstream Resources ran the project, with Dave Cozad completing the work. The first year was devoted to obtaining baseline fish numbers, water temperatures, insect counts and the planning for construction sites.  Years two and the first half of the 3rd year were the construction years, mostly completed with paid labor, but some volunteer prison labor assisted at times.  The following two years were to have been used for monitoring changes.

The Big South Project was designed to study various methods of erosion control, various means of sediment removal and through construction of gravel bars on artificial riffles to provide areas for salmon and steelhead spawning in areas where natural spawning was minimal or not previously seen.  While the conclusions were highly successful, several significant problems were encountered:

  • Past agricultural practices in the headwaters, primarily tiling, draining, and channeling, results in “flashy” high flood waters (debris 4-5’ in streamside trees).

  • A dam failure on Freeman Creek completely overwhelmed the sandtrap and gravel bar constructed on that tributary.

  • Trout Unlimited’s Stream Sweeper™ dredge was unable to access all sites intended.

  • Spring snow melt resulted in such turbidity that accurate steelhead spawning counts were underestimated.

  • Unexpected illegal poaching  was seen at those highly productive new spawning riffles, resulting in reduced numerical counts.

  • The five year limit of the grant funding did not provide adequate time to measure returning of the project’s mature salmon due to their 3-4 year life cycle.

Nonetheless the demonstration was considered an overwhelming success with several parameters noted:

  • Constructed riffles provide a substrate much more suitable for stream flora and fauna and provide more stable environments and velocities as well as being more pleasing aesthetically.

  • Newly created riffles are sustaining salmonids spawning activities above baseline, and in sites where there is no previous record of successful spawning.

  • Gravel ,when added, supports a higher density and diversity of macroinvertebrates as witnessed by increased numbers of Cedar Waxwings feeding on the insects.

  • Calculations from fish counts from the study indicate it is possible to generate a naturally-produced migrant salmon smolt for nine cents each compared to DNR’s estimate of hatchery-reared fingerlings at eleven cents apiece. Scientific literature supports naturally reproduced fish having a greater fitness than hatchery fish.

  • A classroom curriculum and field water quality testing program was developed for local ISD schools; grades 3-12 will participate in learning more about river ecology while providing monitoring of the PM’s waters.

  • A pavilion was constructed in cooperation with the Ruby Creek Recreation and Conservation Club with an interpretive center and trail to explain what was done and why, as well as providing a fishing and observation platform.

All in all, we accomplished the goals PMWC set, with benefits to our river, Lake Michigan, and the fishery resource.  The project has definitely benefited our lives in the Great Lake State.

PMWC AT WORK

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

PERE MARQUETTE WATERSHED COUNCIL