Partnership results in Bigelow Creek Project
By Ken DeLaat
A lot gets said these days about the importance of collaboration, a word that can be tossed out casually despite the enormity involved in the effort to get there. More often than not it is cooperation being referred to, a much simpler task
When it comes to approaching big challenges with ever-limited resources collaboration a true sharing of stake in a project can be the only route toward overcoming the challenge.
Recently a partnership among many groups with a shared mission accomplished the first of what is hoped to be several projects to improve the habitat of the tributaries that feed our Muskegon River
Bigelow Creek is one of only two coldwater tributaries to the Muskegon River and provides critical thermal,refuge and diverse habitats for aquatic species. Bigelow Creek supports a diverse fish community that consists of self-sustaining populations of brook and brown trout, Chinook salmon and steelhead, and other species. This fishery is an important source for steelhead and Chinook salmon that out-migrate to the Muskegon River and Lake Michigan.
Undersized culverts not allowing the passage of aquatic organisms.
Replace undersized culverts with structures that do not change stream conditions through the road/stream crossing.
Of course this is not exactly as easy as it seems because of the cost involved and the limited resources available to organizations with an interest in resolving the issue.
USDA Forest Service – Huron Manistee National Forest, Trout Unlimited, Inc., Muskegon River Watershed Assembly, Newaygo County Road Commission, Everett Township, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation were the organizations who partnered up and ponied up to make this happen. The project not only recognizes the need to manage maintain and improve our waterways, but also serves as a tribute to what is possible when the dynamic of collaboration is employed.
The new culverts allow for free passage for aquatics through the waterway and the newly constructed bridge and roadway provide a safer and smoother travel above the creek as well.
Plans are to continue this partnership with several more projects in the coming years.