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Schrems West Michigan Trout Unlimited – Coldwater Inventory and Strategic Plan

Schrems West Michigan Trout Unlimited is a grassroots organization that has traditionally been supported by relatively small donations and ambitious volunteers. However, in more recent times, factors such as a expanding membership, abundance of federal grant programs for on-the-ground improvement and greater expectation as being a leader in West Michigan conservation issues, have led Schrems to take on increasingly larger and more complex projects. With this growth comes a need for greater organization of efforts to ensure that time and resources are being leveraged to the greatest extent. Too often, the Schrems Board of Directors has felt underprepared to address issues raised by the membership and to bring federal money into West Michigan for conservation projects. Working with the Schrems Board, SES developed a solution advancing the mission of the organization and expanding conservation efforts throughout the region. The solution is a large-scale inventory of coldwater streams and subsequent development of a Strategic Plan outlining goals, objectives, timeframes and budget necessary to carry out high priority projects. This project would be unique for a Trout Unlimited chapter, and it is believed that the efforts will be used a framework for other chapters throughout North America.


Green River Dam Removal - SES staff assisted with the assessment and removal of a dam on the Green River. SES provided expertise for post-construction river design to stabilize the former dam site, while allowing for passage of native and non-native fish. The project was complicated by the proximity of an upstream highway crossing and an adjacent, active fish farm that requires river water for their operation.


Elsie Dam Engineering and Feasibility Study - SES staff obtained funding for, and participated in, an Engineering and Feasibility Study to determine alternatives for the fate of the Elsie Dam, in Duplain Township, MI. The study has been completed and based upon site conditions, various data and results of a public participation process, the recommended alterative is to remove the dam, replace it with an elongated riffle that is passable to native fish, and maintain the majority of the impoundment.


St. Joe River Watershed Fish Migration Barrier Inventory - SES staff obtained funding for, and is participating in, a study to identify and prioritize fish migration barriers in the St. Joseph River and its tributaries. With input from the Project Committee, which consists of MDNRE, IDNR, USFWS and City of Elkhart, IN fisheries biologists, Potawatomi RC&D and other local conservation groups, SES has, to date, completed the inspection of over 80 road crossings in nine high-priority tributaries and several dams to determine efficacy of fish passage. Results of the project will include a prioritized list of removal/improvement projects based on a variety of data, including cost, social considerations and ecological benefits.


Mid-Michigan Streambank Erosion Study - Conducting a study to determine if a relationship exists between actual streambank erosion rates and predictors such as the Bank Assessment for Nonpoint source Consequences of Sediment (BANCS) model (Rosgen 2006). Responsibilities include installing and monitoring bank pins, collecting Bank Erosion Hazard Index (BEHI) and Near-Bank Stress (NBS) data, data analyses and reporting.


Rice Creek Floodplain Reconnection Project – Participating in assessing current conditions and providing alternatives for floodplain restoration at four sites on Rice Creek. Responsibilities include analysis of Rosgen Level IV data and coordination with engineers to determine best project alternatives based upon geomorphologic variables, all MDNRE permitting for proposed alternatives, and construction oversight.


Coldwater River Habitat Restoration and Monitoring Project - Completed all aspects of restoring over 2,800 feet of instream habitat to the Coldwater River, including surveys of impaired and reference reaches. Obtained all funding through multiple grant sources. Completed pre-construction surveys for threatened and endangered species, mussels, fish and macroinvertebrates. Obtained MDNRE permit and ‘authorization to work in a county drain’ from the Intercounty Drainage Board. Designed and oversaw construction of all best management practices/habitat features. Currently conducting post-construction monitoring including cross section, bank pin and scour chain analyses.


Seeley Drain Fisheries Assessment - SES staff completed a fisheries survey, habitat and morphological assessment of the Seeley Drain to determine presence/absence of the state endangered redside dace and potential impacts from a proposed improvement of a wastewater treatment plant. As part of the study, potential redside dace habitats were mapped and fish migration barriers were inventoried to determine possible extent of the dace’s range.


Lake St. Clair Vegetation, Fisheries and Habitat Assessments – Clients – Confidential; 2007 and 2006) - As part of a potential court cases, SES staff (Mike Nurse and Aaron Snell) conducted aquatic vegetation, fisheries and aquatic habitat surveys at three locations in Lake St. Clair; two in Macomb County and one in Wayne County. Vegetative mapping, habitat classification and fisheries surveys were conducted and assessed.


Gogebic County Streams – Fisheries Assessment - SES staff (Mike Nurse and Aaron Snell) conducted fisheries surveys on over 25 streams throughout Gogebic County in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The purpose of the assessments was to characterize fish communities, including sampling for an endangered fish species, for comparison to six Lake Superior tributaries on an established study site proposed for mining operations.


St. Clair System Fish Community Goals and Objectives (Client - Great Lakes Fisheries Commission; 2001 to 2006) - Under Grant from the Great Lakes Fishery Commission Mike Nurse assisted the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (MDNRE) Fisheries Division and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) with developing goals and objectives for fish communities in Lake St. Clair, St. Clair River and the Detroit River. Mr. Nurse worked closely with biologists from the MDNR and the OMNR to complete the draft document. The Final Draft is awaiting review.


Detroit River International Crossing (Client – MDOT as sub consultant to The Corradino Group; 2005 to 2009) - Due to increased traffic volumes, the Michigan Department of Transportation was looking to construct a new crossing of the Detroit River, a new plaza, and freeway connections to facilitate and improve the border crossing. Mike Nurse worked with the Corradino Group, as the principal consultant responsible for providing all ecological assessments and impact analysis including streams, fish, wetlands, botanical, mussels and wildlife associated with the Detroit River corridor and adjacent lands. Threatened and endangered assessments were conducted for 52 plant and 33 animal species and wetland delineations and functional assessments were conducted throughout the study area. Staff also identified areas for potential ecological restoration, enhancement and creation.


Blue Water Bridge International Crossing - The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) contracted with Wilbur Smith Associates, Inc. (WSA) to identify alternative improvements for the U.S. Plaza of the Blue Water Bridge in the City of Port Huron, MI. As project manager, Mike Nurse conducted stream habitat assessments wetland delineations, functional assessments, within a 5 square mile project area to identify functions associated with wetlands, stream and river habitats, and identify potential impacts for each the alternatives proposed. In addition, he conducted aquatic surveys for endangered fish, plant, mussel and reptile species.

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