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State receiving $5 million in grant funding for stream restoration

Au Sable River
George Thomas
Au Sable River HDR
The Au Sable River is one of 14 streams receiving funding that will help remove obsolete dams and culverts.

Fourteen Michigan counties will soon experience stream restoration work, thanks to a $5 million grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

The grant will fund the removal of 27 stream barriers - obsolete dams or culverts - in order to restore fish passage.

Patrick Ertel is with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. He said the engineering and final condition for the sites has already been planned, but the grant will help with state permitting, federal environmental review, and de-construction projects.

“Reconnection of river habitats is ultimately fixing mistakes of the past or fixing the conditions of infrastructure that's no longer needed,” Ertel said. “We prioritize projects based on their impact on the stream, and then we go in and try to restore the natural physics so that the stream can function like a stream wants to.”

Ertel said the funding will be distributed among local partners and removal of stream barriers will begin in 2023.

“One of the most joyous things of being granted this money for dam removal, is that we really had an opportunity to carry the weight for our partners and then hand the money back to them,” Ertel said.

Projects in Cheboygan, Crawford, Emmet, Grand Traverse, Mackinac, Marquette, Mecosta, and Lake counties are among those receiving funding.

In the interest of transparency, we note the DNR is a financial supporter of WCMU.

Teresa Homsi is an environmental reporter and Report for America Corp Member based in northern Michigan for WCMU. She is covering rural environmental issues, public health and Michigan commerce. Homsi has a bachelor’s from Central Michigan University in environmental studies, journalism and anthropology. During her undergraduate, she was a beat reporter for CMU’s student newspaper Central Michigan Life and interned for the Huron Daily Tribune. She has also interned for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy in the superfund section. *Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms, more info at