Written by Traverse City Record Eagle
Monday, 15 August 2005 03:58
An agreement between trout farm owners and the state will allow removal of a historic dam on the Green River ?? an important tributary to the protected Jordan River.
"We want fish passage. We want a free-flowing river, a river that does not block fish," DNR fisheries biologist Tom Rozich said.
Environmentalists also want a free-flowing river but voiced concern about sediment damage to habitat.
"Fifty years of sediment is deposited behind that dam," said John Richter, president of Friends of the Jordan River Watershed. "It has to be done very carefully."
The Green River Trout Farm, off M-66 in Antrim County's Chestonia Township, is owned and operated by brothers Steve and Jerry Hallberg and Jerry's son, Eric. Last year, the Hallbergs settled a legal battle with the DNR that allows them to continue operating the trout farm.
In return, the Hallbergs said the DNR could remove the dam, if necessary, as long as the state supplies the trout farm with enough water flow for trout tanks.
Conservation Resource Alliance is preparing a request for engineering proposals on removing the dam and related issues. A $15,000 Nestle-Ice Mountain grant will help pay for it, but more money is needed, project manager Mark Johnson said.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offered funds to the project, then balked because of "environmental questions" about sea lampreys. The service may require an ecological assessment.
The lamprey kills millions of dollars worth of sports fish every year in the Great Lakes region. The number of lamprey spawners in Lake Michigan has tripled in the past decade to nearly 200,000, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission said.
The Jordan River contains a lamprey barrier. Richter is concerned lampreys could get into the Green River if the dam is removed. Rozich isn't worried.
"Sea lamprey there is a non-issue," he said. "The Green River is colder and it's a smaller stream. They prefer a bigger stream."
Rozich also downplayed worries about migrating brown trout and salmon disrupting brook trout habitat on the Green River.
Richter said a pre- and post-dam-removal study should be done to examine habitat changes on the river.
The DNR can't fund a dam removal or bypass project until engineering studies are completed, Rozich said.
He said funding could take two to three years to obtain.
Public comment will be sought before any action takes place, he said.
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