Our Forests, Our Water

Working together with the Coca-Cola Company, the NFF helped restore aquatic organism passages on the Huron-Manistee National Forest.

Located in the northern lower peninsula of Michigan, the Huron-Manistee National Forest provides countless recreational opportunities for forest visitors and nearly endless habitat for the fish and wildlife species that call it home. The Huron-Manistee National Forest is water rich, containing thousands of lakes and miles of pristine rivers and streams that flow into the Great Lakes.

The streams that flow from the Forest and into the Great Lakes provide excellent habitat for fish that require free-flowing streams for migration: brook trout, brown trout, lake trout, white sturgeon and migratory salmonids. The road system that crosses many of the Forests’ streams requires culverts for water to pass underneath the road system.

The old culvert.
The new bridge.

Unfortunately, as decades passed, many culverts have become defunct and act as an obstruction to fish passage moving upstream. The stream crossing at Brayton Creek, an important tributary to the White River, was particularly degraded. Additionally, the degrading culverts were leading to streambank erosion and sedimentation downstream of these crossings.

With the support of the Coca-Cola Company, the NFF worked together with the Oceana County Road Commission to remove two defunct culverts that were impeding fish passage upstream and install a bridge that would allow complete passage for all aquatic organisms. As a result of this project, Coca-Cola replenished more than 200 million liters of water per year and re-established Brayton Creek as a free-flowing stream that is friendly to fish. Immediately following the project, project managers noted the highest return of native salmonids in more than a decade, demonstrating the success of this project.