Muskegon River Watershed Barrier Inventory Project
BY RICK WESTERHOF, GREEN BAY FWCO
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Fish Passage Program awarded the Muskegon River Watershed Assembly $20,000 to conduct a barrier inventory in the Muskegon River Watershed. The primary objectives of the barrier inventory are to complete a comprehensive, prioritized inventory of fish migration barriers throughout the watershed in Muskegon County and begin inventory work in Montcalm and Mecosta counties (as funding allows) and to use this data to develop a strategic plan to remove these barriers. The equipment, methods and data sheets to collect barrier information will be consistent with the standardized barrier inventory procedures developed for multi-agency use in the Great Lakes Basin and Lake Michigan Watershed.
The Muskegon River Watershed is threatened by dams, water control structures and culverts that prevent passage of fish cause thermal pollution and alter the natural hydrology. There are over 1,000 road stream crossings in the watershed that are damaged, failing, perched and undersized that need to be replaced. The watershed contains over 100 species of fish, and a myriad of plants, aquatic invertebrates, mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. There are 14 invertebrate species listed as threatened or special concern species. There is one reptile species listed as threatened and four species listed as special concern. The project will serve as a guideline for reconnection of habitats throughout the watershed, thereby benefiting a majority of these species.
The Muskegon River Watershed barrier inventory project will include the following partners: Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Mecosta County Road Commission, Montcalm County Road Commission, Muskegon County Road Commission, U. S. Forest Service, Pine Island Natural Resource Services, and the Green Bay National Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office.