High Bank Creek
Removal of Two Fish Passage Barriers in the Thornapple River Watershed
RICK WESTERHOF, GREEN BAY FWCO
High Bank Creek (HBC) is a tributary to the Thornapple River and flows north from Barry County to the confluence with Thornapple Lake in Michigan. In 2010, the Barry Conservation District (BCD) was funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Fish Passage Program to remove two fish passage barriers on HBC. The removal of the two fish passage barriers, Lawrence Road culverts and Morgan Dam was completed and reconnected 31 miles of quality habitat for fish and aquatic species in the Thornapple River Watershed.
The Lawrence Road culvert on High Bank Creek was undersized, submerged and partially collapsed, thus preventing fish and aquatic species from passing upstream. The Morgan Dam was located just upstream of HBC and its confluence with Thornapple Lake. The dam was a former grist mill that operated into the 1940’s. The dam’s cement abutment was knocked into the creek in the mid-1960’s to reduce the hazard caused by the collapsing structure. The impoundment drained and the mill race was filled during late 1960’s or early 1970’s. The dam remnants and higher velocities prevented passage of fish and other aquatic organisms.
A single span concrete bridge replaced the culverts at the Lawrence Road and High Bank Creek crossing. The new bridge is 130 feet in length and 34.4 feet wide, spanning the entire bankfull width and providing unrestricted fish passage. Milbocker & Sons was the prime contractor for the Lawrence Road project and was assisted by the Barry County Road Commission (BCRC) with erosion repairs after the bridge was constructed. Morgan Dam was removed, stream banks were restored and a rock ramp was built below the dam to provide fish passage. Michigan Department of Natural Resources Allegan Parks equipment crew completed the dam removal project. Project partners included BCD, MDNR, BCRC, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the landowner, Cogent Engineering, Crandall Bros. Construction and the Green Bay Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office.