Conservation district receives habitat grant

MARQUETTE — The Marquette County Conservation District has been awarded a Michigan Department of Natural Resources Aquatic Habitat Grant for $138,712 to restore about 200 meters of Brickyard Creek and replace a culvert on Norwald Creek.

According to MCCD Director Jaimi Cawley, the project will involve work at Brickyard Creek where development has removed riparian vegetation, and replacing a perched culvert on Norwald Creek, about a quarter mile from Brickyard.

Located in Marquette Township, both creeks are tributaries of the Dead River and important brook trout nursery streams.

MCCD will re-establish 2,000 square meters of riparian vegetation along Brickyard Creek and provide connectivity for aquatic organism passage in Norwald Creek.

It will also re-establish a riparian zone along Brickyard Creek’s banks with non-native invasive species removed from the site. Plantings will include native conifers, shrubs, grasses and pollinator seeds/ plugs.

This restoration will maintain stream temperatures for brook trout and minimize non-point pollution from entering Brickyard Creek due to surrounding development, resulting in a healthier ecosystem in the proposed area and downstream to the main section of the Dead River and Lake Superior.

By replacing the 3-foot perched culvert on Norwald Creek, MCCD will reconnect about a half-mile of stream channel for migration and movement into important fish habitat and will improve water quality by decreasing erosion and sedimentation.

Eight projects will share $1.25 million through the grants program.

Fish and other aquatic species need healthy habitats in order to grow, reproduce and support Michigan’s valuable fisheries, but degraded habitat threatens their populations throughout the state, the DNR said.

Through its Aquatic Habitat Grants Program, which annually provides $1.25 million to fund habitat conservation projects, the DNR supports the efforts of its partners to protect and restore fish populations and habitat.

Nonprofit organizations, local governments and state government agencies this year submitted a total of 24 proposals requesting $4.66 million in grant funding requests the DNR reviewed.

“These projects are critical to protecting and restoring the aquatic habitats that produce our world-class fisheries and support healthy aquatic ecosystems throughout the state,” said Jim Dexter, chief of the DNR Fisheries Division, in a news release.

Other applicants receiving Aquatic Habitat Grant funding this year were:

≤ the Conservation Resource Alliance, $210,000 to remove two undersized culverts to allow fish passage on the Pere Marquette River;

≤ the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, $37,185 to restore about 200 feet of degraded shoreline on Lake Charlevoix in Charlevoix County using bioengineering techniques to serve as a demonstration for the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership’s contractor training program and an example of shoreline bioengineering in an area with high wave energy;

≤ the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, $93,238 to replace a road/stream crossing on the Crooked River in Emmet County with a channel-spanning bridge to allow fish and aquatic organisms to migrate from Pickerel Lake into the Crooked River watershed;

≤ Huron Pines, $50,000 to remove an obsolete and partially failed dam on the Middle Branch of the Cedar River in Clare County;

≤ Trout Unlimited, $180,000 to improve road/stream crossings on Big Devil, Boswell and Peterson creeks in Kalkaska, Manistee and Wexford counties that served as barriers to fish and aquatic species in the Manistee River watershed;

≤ Golden Lotus, Inc., $91,115 to implement Phase III of its project to rehabilitate the Pigeon River at the site of the former Song of the Morning dam in Otsego County. This dam was removed in 2016, and the current project will mitigate erosion occurring within the former impoundment and rehabilitate the stream into a more natural channel.

≤ Columbus Township, $449,750 to rehabilitate over 2,000 feet of the Belle River in St. Clair County for native mussels and anadromous fish — those that are born in fresh water, spend most of their life in the sea and return to fresh water to spawn.

The Aquatic Habitat Grant Program is funded by revenues from fishing and hunting license fees. This funding will be available in the next cycle through the new Fisheries Habitat Grant. The DNR will announce the request for proposals for this grant at the end of July.

Learn more about these programs and other grant opportunities at Michigan.gov/DNRGrants.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.