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Restoration of the North Branch Manistee River and the Flowing Well Property
Midwest Region, May 5, 2011
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Staff from MDNR, CRA and USFWS team up to move a large log in the North Branch of the Manistee River.  (Photo by Jill Rowley, and provided courtesy of CRA)
Staff from MDNR, CRA and USFWS team up to move a large log in the North Branch of the Manistee River. (Photo by Jill Rowley, and provided courtesy of CRA) - Photo Credit: n/a

Conservation Resource Alliance (CRA) is leading the effort to restore the North Branch of the Manistee River and the Flowing Well Property (FWP). The North Branch of the Manistee River begins in Kalkaska County and runs through the 1,720 acre FWP. The river continues southwest and finally empties into Lake Michigan at the town of Manistee. The FWP is an abandoned trout farm recently acquired by the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy and transferred to the State of Michigan in 2008. The old trout farm consists of dilapidated raceways and a series of seven small dams impounding the rivers, diverting the natural stream channel, trapping sediments and artificially warming water temperatures, reducing water quality, blocking nutrient transport, and blocking fish passage. Plus, there are numerous beaver dams on the property causing extensive damage to the river channels and banks. On May 5, CRA staff, Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) personnel and Rick Westerhof, from the Green Bay Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, spent the day removing beaver dams and clearing logs jams and debris from the original channel of the North Branch of the Manistee River and the upper end of the artificially created channel that diverted water to the hatchery rearing ponds. The crew started in the lower end of the North Branch River and worked part of the way up river removing logs and debris and placing them strategically along the bank to prevent further erosion. One large beaver dam was dismantled stick by stick to open up the channel for additional water when the upstream diversion dam is completely removed. In the artificially created channel, a recently constructed beaver dam was removed to slowly drain the large pond adjacent to the original stream channel. The large pond was created years ago by constructing an earthen berm between the artificial and original stream channel for supplying water to the raceways.  The weather was perfect, the company outstanding and the prospects of restoring the river to benefit fish and wildlife resources were excellent. Given the amount of restoration necessary on the North Branch of the Manistee River and the FWP, there will be more opportunities to assist with the removal of beaver dams, log jams, diversion dams and tree plantings for years to come. Funding for the restoration of the North Branch of the Manistee River and FWP has been provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation – Sustain Our Great Lakes Stewardship Grants and United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Great Lakes Basin Fish Habitat Partnership Program.


Contact Info: Rick Westerhof, 231-584-3553, rick_westerhof@fws.gov



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