Michigan’s DNR receives $5 million grant from America the Beautiful Challenge

Michigan received $5 million from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation as a recipient of the America the Beautiful Challenge, a $1 billion grant program that started in May to fund “various landscape-level conservation projects,” according to the state .

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced the funding in a recent press release, stating that Michigan is one of six applicants to receive maximum funding from the challenge.

MDNR Director Dan Eichinger said supporting the America the Beautiful Challenge will go a long way toward improving water and fish flow, which is critical to healthy rivers and streams.

“Put simply, fish and other organisms in the water need to move,” Eichinger said in the statement. “Throughout their many life stages, whether foraging, reproducing, hiding from predators, or seeking protection from extreme conditions, fish need to be able to move easily within their water bodies and between bodies of water. Removing barriers to exercise means we can better protect fish populations.”

The funds are to be administered by the MDNR to 14 districts.

The 14 benefiting areas include:

  • Twin Lakes Creek (Cheboygan County)
  • Au Sable River (Crawford County)
  • Carr Creek (Delta County)
  • Dana Lake (Delta County)
  • Cove of Noc (Delta County)
  • Wycamp Creek (Emmet County)
  • Two Mile Creek (Gogebic County)
  • Boardman/Ottaway Rivers (Grand Traverse County)
  • North Branch Cole Creek (Lake County)
  • Spring Creek (Luce County)
  • McAlpine Creek (County Mackinac)
  • Silver Lead Creek (Marquette County)
  • Little Muskegon River (Mecosta County)
  • Buckhorn Creek (Mecosta County)
  • Steinbach
  • East Branch Big Creek (Oscoda County)
  • Au Sable River (Oscoda County)
  • Hayden Creek (Van Buren County)

The $5 million Michigan is set to receive will fund the removal of 27 river barriers to restore passage for fish and other aquatic organisms, according to MDNR in the news release.

“The work will benefit several endangered species such as the eastern Massasauga rattlesnake, the pickerel frog and freshwater mussel species including the fluted mussel and the elktoe,” the MDNR wrote.

The MDNR also plans to work with local organizations and state-recognized tribes to complete the work. Such remediation projects also help eliminate risks to public safety, particularly for sites with road traffic moving across waterways, the MDNR said in the release.

Partners include the Conservation Resource Alliance, Huron Pines, Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Michigan Trout Unlimited, Muskegon River Watershed Assembly, Superior Watershed Partnership and Land Conservancy, and the US Forest Service.

“These federal grants for our inland waterways will help us protect several endangered species, reduce risks to public safety and improve climate resilience,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in the release. “Let’s continue to work together to ensure all of our waters, from the Great Lakes that define us to our thousands of inland bodies of water, are safe for decades to come.”

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