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Stories of Impact

Natural Environment

Enhancing and Protecting Northern Michigan’s Most Valuable River Systems with Huron Pines

“Reconnecting our river systems is so important for preserving fish species and for creating a healthy watershed that's more resilient to future changes in climate and land-use patterns.”

Lisha Ramsdell, Associate Director, Huron Pines


Grayling, MI (March 2020)Clean water and healthy fish and wildlife populations are critical in making Michigan a great place to live, work, and visit. For 46 years, non-profit organization Huron Pines has been working to enhance and protect our valuable river resources in Northern Michigan. One of its priorities includes reconnecting coldwater brook trout streams, providing immediate benefit for rivers and aquatic life, and the communities that surround them.

In 2019, Huron Pines successfully reconnected over 500 stream miles, ensuring healthy watersheds in key regions in Northern Michigan. Now, with help from the Walters Family Foundation, the organization is focusing on 12 projects that preserve the region’s highest-priority streams. The projects include the removal of two dams and the improvement of 10 road/stream crossings across six counties in Northern Michigan, all of which act as barriers to fish passage and create excess sediment pollution in rivers.

Arch bridge example slated for the East Branch Black River to correct seasonal flooding and reconnect 20 river milesDownload a high-resolution version of this photo.

The culmination of these projects will result in many long-term benefits. Fish species like brook trout will have access to suitable spawning, foraging and refuge habitats, ensuring they live out their lifecycle. Communities will enjoy improved local road infrastructure and enhanced natural resources that support vibrant recreation and tourism.

“A lot of people who live or vacation here love to fish or float down the river. They really value access to these resources, and moreover, that these resources are healthy,” says Ramsdall. “Our work will improve the overall health of our rivers, and do it in a long-term, fully sustainable fashion.  We’re grateful that we have a partner like the Walters Family Foundation that understands the value of these natural resources, and the need for flexible funding for preservation efforts.”