DNR awards $1.7M in grants to improve fish habitats

A DNR Fisheries Habitat Grant will fund replacement of Republic Dam (Marquette County) with a...
A DNR Fisheries Habitat Grant will fund replacement of Republic Dam (Marquette County) with a rock-arch rapids that will allow fish passage into the 6,400-acre Michigamme Reservoir and upstream for 40 miles.(Kevin Roell, PE – GEI Consultants of Michigan, P.C.)
Published: May. 5, 2023 at 12:01 PM EDT
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MICHIGAN (WNEM) - Conservation projects on lakes and streams in 11 counties have been awarded grant funding by the The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to support rehabilitation of valuable fish habitats that provide the foundation for Michigan’s world-class fisheries.

In total, the 11 counties are receiving $1.7 million in Fisheries Habitat Grants. These funds are matched by more than $3.2 million in partner contributions, for a total conservation value of about $5 million.

The Fisheries Habitat Grant program provides funding for a variety of activities including fish habitat conservation, dam removal and repair, resource assessment studies and access to recreational opportunities such as fishing. Funding from fishing license sales, state of Michigan general funds, and a settlement with Consumers Energy is distributed through three grant areas: aquatic habitat conservation, dam management, and aquatic habitat and recreation in the Au Sable, Manistee, and Muskegon river watersheds.

In mid-Michigan, a Flint River dam in Genesee County is receiving $60,800 to improve a fish passage through dam removal and shoreline softening. According to the DNR, the dams and shoreline have been hardening due to urbanization, which is causing a habitat decline for fish species.

“This critical funding and the dollars it leverages will support projects that yield cleaner water, healthier fish populations and better aquatic habitats, and make outdoor areas safer for residents,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Joe Nohner, a resource analyst with the DNR Fisheries Division, said the projects will protect and rehabilitate aquatic habitats across the state and, in many cases, will also improve public safety through the removal of dams.

“These projects are critical to strengthening and maintaining populations of fishes and other aquatic species. They will improve fish migration in over 230 miles of Michigan streams and boost public safety through the removal or replacement of three dams and six culverts,” Nohner said. “Another example of the work that will be accomplished is a project installing shoreline woody habitat structures [...] to provide habitat for fishes, turtles, birds, and other aquatic life.”

Fisheries Habitat Grant funding is available annually to local, state, federal, and tribal governments and nonprofit groups through an open, competitive process. The next request for proposals is expected to be announced in September.

To learn more about the Fisheries Habitat Grant program and other grant opportunities, visit their website.

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