Great Lakes Fish Habitat Partnership Funds
Reef Habitat Restoration Project
BY RICK WESTERHOF, GREEN BAY FWCO AND RANDY CLARAMUNT, MDNR CHARLEVOIX, MICHIGAN
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service provided $62,500 to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) for the Cisco and Lake Trout Spawning Habitat Reef Project near Elk Rapids, Michigan. The reef complex near the harbor of Elk Rapids is the only known cisco spawning location in Lake Michigan, and the only spawning reef complex used by both cisco and lake trout. Although spawning by these species has been documented at the reef complex, one area has the lowest egg deposition and survival for both species.
The project team from MDNR, The Nature Conservancy, and Central Michigan University will rehabilitate habitat at this site to increase spawning success and reduce vulnerability to predators. Reef habitat will be quantified at the degraded reef and two adjacent high quality reefs before and after restoration. Limestone will be added to the degraded reef so that reef habitat is similar to conditions at the two adjacent high quality reefs. Cisco and lake trout egg deposition and egg survival by reef spawners before and after restoration relative to egg predator densities will be quantified and monitored.
The project addresses needs and goals identified in the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act, Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement; Great Lakes Regional Collaboration’s which include restoration plans to reestablish cisco. Also, the Lake Michigan Lake Committee identified self-sustaining stocks of lake whitefish and lake trout and a diverse community of native fishes as fish community objectives and protect and restore reef spawning habitats.