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Stories of Impact

Natural Environment

Restoring Upstream Habitat on Milligan Creek

“The improvements we’re making are helping to preserve quality trout habitat and stream health in the region. The bigger picture is that it we’re improving the recreation and the economy in the area too.”

Colby Chilcote, Marketing Director, Huron Pines

When local fisherman and landowner Ross Nave thinks back to 30 years ago, he remembers the Milligan Creek area surrounding his home as a trout haven. “In its days, the Milligan brought a lot of people to Northern Michigan just to fish. We don't see those folks anymore,” he says.

One of the reasons is when Milligan Creek meets the Upper Black River, its natural flow is impeded by culverts that are not large enough for fish to move freely up and down stream. Nave says the culverts often clog with woody debris, creating flooding that is a “major disaster for a trout stream.”

Milligan Creek culverts prior to replacement. (Photo: Tom Cadwalader)Download a high-resolution version of this photo.

At the request of local landowners like Nave, the Michigan DNR did extensive fisheries surveys and stream inventory on the region. Now with funding from the DNR, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Cheboygan County Road Commission and the Walters Family Foundation, the nonprofit organization Huron Pines is working to replace the undersized culverts with new arch structures.

New “trout friendly” culvert at Milligan Creek. (Photo: Tom Cadwalader)Download a high-resolution version of this photo.

Proper replacement of the culverts will improve fish passage and overall stream connectivity. It will also ensure a healthy river corridor that promotes fishing, birding, hiking, kayaking and scenic views, providing recreational and economic benefit to the region.

Peter Walters, Treasurer of the Walters Family Foundation says, “One of our priorities is to support preservation and restoration of Michigan streams, rivers and lakes. Providing free movement of fish up and down Milligan Creek is in line with our priorities.”