“Fish sorting channel”, construction of a park underway in northern Michigan
TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Construction began this week on a project to restore the ecosystem – positively impacting at least 30 species – of a northern Michigan river and modernization of a public park.
The most important part of Traverse City Union Dam FishPass Project is an “adaptive fish sorting channel” that will allow wanted fish to move upstream and downstream while keeping invasive species at bay, according to a Press release of the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Officials say the project will positively impact at least 30 key species important to the ecology of the Boardman / Ottaway River and Grand Traverse Bay.
The project, which has been in the works for four years, will reconnect the Boardman River to Lake Michigan and is the final piece of the river ecosystem restoration project. It is expected to be completed in spring 2023.
This “could have regional, national and global implications” as the innovative technology used could be applied to reconnect lakes and rivers around the world, thereby restoring ecosystems.
However, the project is not just for fish. Union Street Dam Park will be upgraded with new green spaces, a walkway overlooking the river, docks, a kayak launch, an amphitheater and steps leading into the water.
Spence Brothers Construction began site preparation this week, including installing fencing and removing trees. In October 2020, the company won the US Army Corps of Engineers’ $ 19.3 million contract to construct the Boardman River Selective Fish Passage Facility at the Union Street Dam site. The new facility will include a “fixed crest maze weir and adaptive fish sorting channel”.
The project will draw on the knowledge of fish biologists around the world. They will evaluate different fish sorting technologies to combat invasive species, such as sea lamprey, by moving upstream while letting native species pass through.
This latest phase of the river restoration initiative is primarily funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and led by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission in partnership with Traverse City, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, Michigan. Department of Natural Resources, US Army Corps of Engineers, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Geological Survey, US Environmental Protection Agency, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
“This milestone represents years of hard work by many dedicated partners,” said Marty Colburn, City Manager of Traverse. “We ask the community to be patient with our construction partners as this exciting project moves forward. Soon, dedicated viewing sites will be set up for the public to see FishPass take shape. “