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Two Fish Passage projects completed in the Salmon Trout River Watershed
Midwest Region, February 12, 2020
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Site 17 in the Salmon Trout River watershed before connectivity restoration.
Site 17 in the Salmon Trout River watershed before connectivity restoration. - Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of the Superior Watershed Partnership
Site 17 in the Salmon Trout River watershed after connectivity restoration.
Site 17 in the Salmon Trout River watershed after connectivity restoration. - Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of the Superior Watershed Partnership
Site 18 in the Salmon Trout River watershed before connectivity restoration.
Site 18 in the Salmon Trout River watershed before connectivity restoration. - Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of the Superior Watershed Partnership
Site 18 in the Salmon Trout River watershed after connectivity restoration.
Site 18 in the Salmon Trout River watershed after connectivity restoration. - Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of the Superior Watershed Partnership

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Ashland Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office has identified priority watersheds for brook trout habitat restoration and connectivity in the Lake Superior basin. In the eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan, these were developed in consultation with the Partners for Watershed Restoration group and have been incorporated into Ashland’s strategic habitat restoration plan.

 

Through this planning effort the Salmon Trout River watershed is ranked in the top five priority watersheds where habitat and connectivity restoration projects will best benefit brook trout. The Salmon Trout River Watershed which drains 31,687 acres (50 square miles) in the Lake Superior basin in northern Marquette County, Michigan is home to native brook trout and one of the last surviving populations of naturally reproducing coaster brook trout in the Lake Superior basin. One of the primary sources of impact to the Salmon Trout River is sediment from unimproved gravel road crossings. In addition, poorly designed and/or failing culverts impede passage for native fish and aquatic organisms.

Two unimproved road crossings of a tributary to the East Branch Salmon Trout River restricted flow and blocked passage for native fish including brook trout and other aquatic life. The culverts were perched and undersized, causing overtopping of the road and sedimentation to the stream during high water events.

Two projects were then planned and executed by the Superior Watershed Partnership and Land Trust in conjunction with Ashland to replace the two failing culverts with a properly sized bottomless arch structures in order to improve passage for native fish and control sedimentation to the stream. Additional project activities included outreach to landowners and other watershed stakeholders to improve and protect water quality and fish habitat. Measurable outcomes of the projects include four miles of habitat upstream of the former barriers made available for native fish including brook trout, and approximately 20 tons of sediment controlled per year from the road crossings and approaches. Restoration of fish passage at these sites will have significant positive impacts to native species in the Salmon Trout River watershed.


Contact Info: Ted Koehler, 715-682-6185, ted_koehler@fws.gov
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