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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Federally Endangered Water Beetle Remains On-Site Following Construction at Stewart Creek

Region 3, June 28, 2012
The Stewart Creek/Blue Lakes Road culvert before construction- note the excessive run-off that has occurred from the road.  The cobble  and fast water velocities block fish passage.
The Stewart Creek/Blue Lakes Road culvert before construction- note the excessive run-off that has occurred from the road. The cobble and fast water velocities block fish passage. - Photo Credit: n/a
During construction, the new culvert is placed.
During construction, the new culvert is placed. - Photo Credit: n/a
One week following construction the new culvert is functioning well, fish are passing through with no problem, and on the upstream end water has dropped eight inches, because the new culvert does not impound water.
One week following construction the new culvert is functioning well, fish are passing through with no problem, and on the upstream end water has dropped eight inches, because the new culvert does not impound water. - Photo Credit: n/a

The federally endangered Hungerford’s crawling water beetle was discovered in Stewart Creek, a tributary of the Black River (Montmorency County, Mich.) in July of 1999. The beetles were located upstream and downstream of the Stewart Creek crossing on Blue Lakes Road. The culvert located at the crossing was in poor condition, and an estimated 43 tons of silt and sediment washed into the creek from the road annually. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program teamed up with Huron Pines, the Upper Black River Council and the Montmorency County Road Commission in 2012 to pool funding and resources to improve the road crossing.

Construction was originally scheduled for fall 2012 but was re-scheduled for June 2012 in order to avoid the beetle’s mating season. The construction action area was thoroughly surveyed on June 24, 2012 by Great Lakes Ecosystems (Mike Grant, Bob Vande Kopple and Bert Ebbers) to locate all adult beetles and remove them to a site with suitable habitat. No beetles were located, which was anticipated. The largest known population of beetles in the creek are located a short distance downstream of the culvert but were not in the immediate action area. Construction began on June 25, 2012.

The ageing 29 foot-long, 3.5 foot diameter round steel culvert was removed and replaced with a 62 foot-long, 95 inch x 67 inch corrugated steel elliptical culvert. The culvert replacement was completed by June 28, 2012. The approach work of hardening of the road surface with afton stone and proper ditch and water diversion installation was completed by July 12, 2012.

The Stewart Road crossing site was surveyed again on July 29, 2012 for the presence of the beetle. Three individuals were immediately located. Habitat at the crossing is currently suitable to support a beetle population and was not destroyed during the construction process.

This finding provides a favorable atmosphere for future projects within the watershed located in close proximity to beetle populations. These sites were not considered for restoration in the past due to the existence of the beetle, but the culvert at this site had deteriorated to the point where there was concern of failure of the structure. Improved road crossings allow for natural stream flow and substrate to be mimicked through the length of the culvert, or whatever structure is placed, and virtually eliminates sediment loading from the roadway. This creates a healthier ecosystem for all stream organisms, in this case brook trout, and allows for passage through the crossing. Completion of this road improvement opened fish passage to one mile of coldwater in-stream habitat and eliminated sediment loading of 43 tons of sediment/year to Stewart Creek.

Contact Info: Heather Rawlings, 989-356-5102, heather_rawlings@fws.gov