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Tuesday, January 30 • 11:20am - 11:40am
SYMPOSIA-10: The Little Rapids Restoration Project: A Local, State and Federal Partnership to Improve Habitat and Remove Beneficial Use Impairments from the St. Marys River Area of Concern

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AUTHORS. Eric Ellis, Great Lakes Commission

ABSTRACT. The St. Marys River is a unique water body connecting Lake Superior and Lake Huron with a binational channel.  In 1987, the river was designated as an Area of Concern (AOC) due to pollution and habitat alteration. The river is listed for multiple Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs) under the AOC program including two related to Fish and Wildlife Populations and Habitat.In 1992, the Soo Area Sportsmen’s Club initiated planning to restore the Little Rapids section of the St. Marys River and remove the habitat related BUIs.  Additional local partners involved in this process included a second sportsmen's club, the Chippewa County Road Commission, and the Eastern Upper Peninsula Regional Planning and Developement Commission.  After 25 years of locally driven, and occasionally contentious, project planning the Little Rapids Restoration Project was completed and resulted in the following:Removal of a causeway that blocked natural water flow.Construction of a bridge that restored free flow of water to historic rapids.Improved aquatic connection and fish passage in the Little Rapids area.Better fishing, recreation, and tourism opportunities for the community.Action toward the removal of the Area of Concern designation.Approximately 70 acres of aquatic habitat were restored while providing safe pedestrian access for fishing and replacing a critical piece of infrastructure for residents.  The project has restored foraging, spawning, and nursery habitat for a wide variety of sport fish (including lake sturgeon, whitefish, and salmon) as well as other aquatic organisms needed for a healthy river system. Continued local monitoring and stewardship of the restored rapids will ensure that they can be enjoyed by generations to come.  This habitat and infrastructure project was funded by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative through the NOAA-Great Lakes Commission Areas of Concern Regional Partnership.

Tuesday January 30, 2018 11:20am - 11:40am CST