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Premier brook trout river road crossing improvement
Midwest Region, July 3, 2020
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This 9-foot wide pipe culvert constricts a 26ft. wide brook trout stream.
This 9-foot wide pipe culvert constricts a 26ft. wide brook trout stream. - Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Huron Pines.
After construction, this arched culvert can handle 100 year flood events.
After construction, this arched culvert can handle 100 year flood events. - Photo Credit: Photo by USFWS.

The East Branch of the Upper Black River is the premier brook trout fishery of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. However, the waters that author Earnest Hemingway fished have been impacted for years by development, sedimentation and fishing pressure.

A site known locally as the Shingle Mill Crossing, where the 26-foot wide east branch of the Black River flowed through a 9-foot diameter pipe culvert under County Road 622, was prone to flooding. The flooding would often cause the road to wash out, adding copious amounts of sediment to the river and causing recurring maintenance issues for the Montmorency County Road Commission. The East Branch has the coldest and most productive waters in the watershed for brook trout, so repairing this site has been a high priority for stakeholders for the past two decades.

The Upper Black River Council, a nonprofit organization and consortium of local government agencies, conservation organizations and private landowners led efforts to replace the culvert at this crossing with a 27-foot wide bottomless culvert. The new structure allows the river to flow naturally under the culvert even during flood-stage events.

Replacement of the crossing opened 20 miles of coldwater river habitat for brook trout. The project cost was $370,000 and construction was managed by Huron Pines, a local nonprofit organization, with funding from the Service’s Fish Passage and Partners for Fish and Wildlife programs, the Walters Family Foundation, and the Montmorency County Road Commission. Construction was completed in the summer of 2020.

Both the Fish Passage and the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program’s at the Service’s Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office have focused efforts in the Upper Black River Watershed for the past two decades.


Contact Info: Heather Rawlings, 989-356-5102, heather_rawlings@fws.gov
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