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Over $1.7 million in grants will benefit fish and aquatic systems statewide

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is awarding over $1.7 million in Fisheries Habitat Grants for conservation projects on lakes and streams statewide. These funds are matched by more than $3.2 million in partner contributions, for a total conservation value of about $5 million.

The projects will rehabilitate and protect valuable fish habitats that provide the foundation for Michigan’s world-class fisheries. Five of the funded projects are DNR Priority Habitat Conservation Projects – those proactively identified by the department as important to sustaining healthy habitats, fisheries and aquatic communities.

“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. “It is gratifying to see such collaboration and creativity being put forth to make a real difference to the natural resources that are central to our state’s appeal as an outdoor recreation destination and a big part of what makes Michigan, Michigan.”

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.

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

“These projects are critical to strengthening and maintaining populations of fishes and other aquatic species,” Nohner said. “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.

"Another example of the work that will be accomplished is a project installing shoreline woody habitat structures, an increasingly popular technique for improving fish habitat. These structures, often called fish sticks, are approximately 30-foot trees placed along the shoreline and nearshore zones of the lakes to provide habitat for fishes, turtles, birds and other aquatic life. They will be permitted and installed in a lake that was formerly a sand pit to improve fishing in the DNR’s Crystal Waters State Game Area in southeast Michigan.”

Supporting work in 11 counties

Projects funded by the Fisheries Habitat Grant program (and project counties) include:

  • Conservation Resource Alliance – Baldwin River Dam removal final design and permitting phase project (Lake County), $115,000.
  • Conservation Resource Alliance – Restoring and reconnecting Cedar Run Creek (Leelanau County), $200,000.
  • DNR Fisheries Division – Crystal Waters State Game Area reservoirs habitat improvement (Monroe County), $43,600.
  • Friends of the Rouge – Lower Rouge River culvert inventory to improve fish passage (Wayne County), $67,800.
  • Great Lakes Fishery Commission – Sucker River culvert replacement and seasonal sea lamprey barrier construction (Alger County), $150,000 conditional commitment.
  • Huron Pines – Replace Sparr Road/Black River culvert to enhance fish passage and river function (Otsego County), $162,000.
  • Michigamme River Basin Water Resources Improvement Tax Increment Finance Authority – Republic Dam removal and Rock Arch Rapids construction (Marquette County), $250,000.
  • Michigan Trout Unlimited – Aquatic organisms passage restoration at the Grayling Fish Hatchery (Crawford County), $400,000.
  • Ottawa County – Ottawa Sands Lake nearshore habitat enhancements, $142,800.
  • Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council – Restoring aquatic connectivity on Stover Creek: Dam removal (Charlevoix County), $189,572.
  • University of Michigan-Flint – Fish passage at a Flint River Dam removal using rock ramps (Genesee County), $60,800.

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.

Learn more about the Fisheries Habitat Grant program and other grant opportunities at

Note to editors: An accompanying photo is available below for download. Caption information follows.

  • Republic Dam: 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. Photo credit: Kevin Roell, PE – GEI Consultants of Michigan, P.C.