Huron Pines Improves Trout Habitat with 32-Foot Timber Bridge

Gilchrist Creek stream restoration first of four projects to improve trout habitat and infrastructure in the Thunder Bay River Watershed.

A newly completed timber bridge where Harwood Road meets Gilchrist Creek southeast of Atlanta is the first of four such projects Huron Pines has planned to improve fish passage and correct seasonal flooding problems within the Thunder Bay River Watershed.

The 32-foot wooden structure replaces a set of three, 6-foot-diameter culverts that were a bottleneck in the river and caused Harwood Road to flood during high water. The undersized culverts resulted in fast currents that kept trout and other fish species from reaching upstream habitat and washed harmful sediment into the stream.

The new span allows Gilchrist Creek to flow naturally under Harwood Road, easily passing floodwater and granting fish access to 11.5 miles of critical upstream habitat.

“These are the types of projects we do across Northeast Michigan to help improve the connectivity of the river system while also reducing sediment, making the crossing safer and reducing maintenance costs for the road commission as well,” said Lisha Ramsdell, Associate Director of Huron Pines. “When we do road-stream replacements we try to pick a design and size that’s large enough that the river won’t even know there is a road above it. We really want to replicate the natural stream flow and timber structures are really good for that.”

This project was managed by Huron Pines with in-kind support from the Montmorency County Road Commission and funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Walters Family Foundation, Great Lakes Fishery Trust and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s National Fish Passage Program.

This bridge is the first of three planned timber bridge replacements on Gilchrist Creek with a fourth  slated for nearby Hunt Creek, all with the intent to preserve the coldest and clearest tributaries of the Thunder Bay River Watershed while also enhancing road safety.

The former crossing on Gilchrist Creek had three undersized culverts set in a concrete headwall.

The 32-foot timber bridge reconnects one of the coldest trout streams found in the Thunder Bay River Watershed.

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