Undersized road/stream crossing structures harm stream health and cause road safety and maintenance concerns. When water backs up behind small culverts it is exposed to warming and often erodes road embankments. Sometimes culverts wash out during flood events, causing significant ecological and economic damage. At the outlet, scouring leads to erosion and culverts may become perched above the downstream water and act as a barrier for fish and other wildlife. Huron Pines works with county road commissions and other partners to replace problematic culverts with proper structures.
Science-Based Inventories and Project Prioritization
Planning is a critical component of every Huron Pines project. Before taking on any restoration work we first prioritize projects by completing objective, science-based inventories. Whether we’re looking at road/stream crossings, streambank erosion, urban stormwater, invasive species or agricultural land stewardship we compile comprehensive inventories that allow us to compare each potential project site apples-to-apples and rate the condition and degree to which each site impacts our forests, lakes and streams. Huron Pines also organizes watershed meetings to listen to important technical and local input that helps informs project selection. Often, a site that is a priority from a natural resources standpoint is also a priority from a public safety or maintenance standpoint (for example, a culvert that blocks fish passage and also washes out the road every spring requiring costly repairs will be a priority for both Huron Pines and the local road commission). By basing our efforts on science-based inventories and aligning priorities with our partners, we can rest assured that each dollar is being used effectively to maximize the positive impacts for our natural resources and the communities they support.
CHECK OUT: Prioritization flow chart, RSX Infographic, Webinar about our Megalist prioritization process, northernmichiganstreams.org (explore RSX inventory data)
CONTACT: Watershed Project Manager Josh Leisen, firstname.lastname@example.org, (989) 448-2293 ext. 16
Improving the Health of the Rifle River Watershed
Since 2010, Huron Pines has improved the health of the Rifle River and other Northern Saginaw Bay watersheds by replacing more than 15 road/stream crossings. This work has reconnected more than 47 miles of upstream aquatic habitat for the benefit of fish and other wildlife (and the local communities who depend on high-quality and healthy rivers). In 2015 we restored Houghton Creek, a tributary of the Rifle River and one of the highest quality streams in the Saginaw Bay Watershed, by replacing an undersized 8.7’ wide culvert with a 52’ span timber bridge at the Flynn Road crossing near Rose City. This project reconnected 5 miles of upstream aquatic habitat in Houghton Creek.
Reconnecting Stream Habitat in the Au Sable River
With our most recent project to replace a set of undersized culverts with a new timber bridge at the West Karen Lake Road crossing in 2016 (photos above) and through improvements at ## other crossings (photos below), Huron Pines and partners have built on years of success reconnecting river habitat, fighting invasive species and improving instream habitat across the whole Au Sable River Watershed.