Trout Unlimited Completes the first phase Manistee River habitat improvement
Five or six years ago a long time friend and client, Dick Audi mentioned to me that he would like to “give back” to hunting and fishing in Michigan. He asked if I had any ideas where he could contribute some money to make a difference. I had many ideas but the one that seemed the most logical was to put Dick in touch with Michigan TU Executive Director, Dr. Bryan Burroughs to see what ideas Bryan had.
During several meetings it was decided that the river between Yellow Trees landing and CCC Bridge could use a lot of help. It is a stretch of river that I’ve fished many times and one that gets a lot of human pressure. Dick, Bryan and I floated that stretch and looked at it first hand to get a feel for what it needed. Bryan gave Dick and I an education on the things that could be done and how it would improve the health of the system. During these meetings Bryan talked about how much easier it is to get grant funding when an action plan is in place. Given that information Dick generously agreed to fund the study to create a plan.
Bryan brought in all necessary agencies and interested parties and gained a consensus for the plan that had been created with Dick’s funding. Bryan and Kristen Thomas, aquatic biologist with TU, then obtained the needed funds via grants to complete the work. A tremendous amount of time, work and money was invested in the plan.
Much on the plan implementation was interrupted by Covid so it took several years for it to be completed. The final phase was placing approximately 150 whole trees at various locations by helicopter. The goal of these trees is primarily to redirect water to narrow the river and increase both flow and cover. There were also a lot of trees that were hinge cut along the shore to create similar results. These pictures show some of each.
This was a very complicated undertaking that Bryan and Kristen took on, we all owe them a debt of gratitude. When being thankful don’t forget Dick, without his generosity none of this would have happened.
Dick and Bryan and other interested parties are working on the next phase, meaning what section to tackle next. I’m eagerly waiting to see the next project get started. With Dick’s continued commitment, Bryan and Kristen’s efforts and the hard work of many others the goal is to do what we reasonably can for the river from above M-72 to M-131. Increasing flows, creating cover, reducing temperatures are all part of the goals.
Those of you that fish or paddle between Yellow Trees and CCC Bridge will see what work has been done by Trout Unlimited. The effects will be seen in the coming years.
If you wish to help us continue to improve the Upper Manistee donations can be made to Trout Unlimited or the Upper Manistee River Association. The funds can be ear marked for the Upper if you request that. Anyone interested in making larger donations call or email me and I can set up meetings with Dick or Bryan to pursue it further. It feels great to contribute funds to the resource we all love!