Native Species Restoration
Native species are an intrinsic part of a healthy, natural ecosystem and they are a treasured natural, tribal, recreational and economic trust species. Concerns for these species include rare or declining natural populations, inadequate information for effective conservation, habitat loss or degradation, and impacts of invasive species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s mission is to preserve and restore native species. This is done by acquiring biological information on native species’ population status/trends, habitat availability/quality, controlling nuisance species, and conserving habitat through protection, restoration, and management. Restoration of native fish species and promoting healthy fish communities is a priority for the Alpena FWCO. The station is actively involved with native species restoration and management in lakes Huron and Erie, the Huron Erie corridor, and the St. Marys River. This work is accomplished by working with state, federal, tribal, and provincial partners to recover species and gain more information about their population status, early life history and habitat requirements. Native species that Alpena FWCO routinely works with include lake trout, lake whitefish and lake sturgeon.
Aquatic Habitat Restoration
Alpena FWCO focuses on improving aquatic habitat for federal trust resources including: federally-listed endangered or threatened species, interjurisdictional fish, migratory birds, refuge lands and resource conservation priorities. Efforts are focused on stewardship, partnerships, fish and wildlife, and future generations. The station has been involved with on-the-ground habitat restoration for fish and wildlife resources through the National Fish Passage Program (NFPP), Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program (Partners Program), and the Great Lakes Basin Fish Habitat Partnership (GLBFHP). Alpena FWCO administers the NFPP and GLBFHP for Lake Huron and western Lake Erie basins by providing funding and technical support, which includes information on fish habitat needs and methods to bypass barriers such as removing dams, replacing undersized culverts, constructing fish ladders. The Partners Program is a voluntary habitat restoration program focused on benefitting fish and wildlife that provides restoration expertise and financial assistance to private landowners, Tribes, and other conservation partners that willingly restore habitat on their property including wetland restoration, native grassland restoration and opening river-miles to fish passage.
Aquatic Invasive Species Issues
Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are non-native aquatic plants or animals that once they invade an area may compete with native species for food and habitat resources, threaten native species diversity or abundance, and disrupt the ecological balance of the invaded area. Invasive species have been entering the Great Lakes at an increasing rate since the turn of the century. Alpena FWCO monitors for invasive fish - targeting Eurasian ruffe and other species not native to the Great Lakes. Activities are focused around shipping ports and rivers to detect new invasive fish populations and to monitor existing fish communities. We also provide financial assistance for aquatic invasive plant management in partnership with other agencies across northeast Michigan. Public education about AIS is a priority for the office. Alpena FWCO is actively involved with AIS education in an effort to alert the public about the problems associated with invasive species, how to recognize invasive species and what they can do to deter or prevent their spread.
Treaty Fishery Assistance
Great Lakes fishery resources are important to the culture of native peoples for food and spiritual purposes. Because of the linkage, the Service views its trust responsibilities to the Great Lakes fishery resources and the tribal governments as one in the same. Alpena FWCO works with tribes in the upper Great Lakes by investigating, protecting and managing important fisheries. The station is actively involved in managing lake trout and lake whitefish stocks in 1836 Treaty Waters and assessing tribally reared walleye in the St. Marys River. Technical assistance is provided though coordinated field surveys, consultation with tribal biologist, and assisting with data and laboratory analysis.
Refuge Fishery Assistance
Healthy aquatic habitat and fish communities are valuable components of the National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) system. Alpena FWCO has provided fishery and habitat assistance to NWRs within our area of coverage. Surveys have been conducted to document the fish community of Michigan Islands NWR and invasive species on Shiawassee NWR. We have worked in cooperation with Shiawassee NWR to examine northern pike passage at a refuge spillway and conducted a fishery assessment of the Metzger Marsh wetland restoration project at Ottawa NWR. A number of projects were conducted to examine fisheries in the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge.