$1.85 million in grants available for Michigan fisheries habitat projects

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Habitat Grant program is offering an expected $1.85 million in funding for a variety of activities, including fish habitat conservation, dam removal and repair, resource assessment studies, and providing access to recreation.

Distributed through three themes – aquatic habitat conservation, dam management, and aquatic habitat and recreation in the Au Sable, Manistee and Muskegon river watersheds – funding is available through an open, competitive process to local, state, federal and tribal governments and nonprofit groups for single- and multiple-year projects.

“Protection and rehabilitation of fish and other aquatic animals’ habitats are common to all three Fisheries Habitat Grant themes, because habitat degradation threatens Michigan’s fish and aquatic resources,” said Joe Nohner, a resource analyst with the DNR Fisheries Division. “The DNR prioritizes habitat conservation that targets the causes of habitat decline, such as barriers to connectivity, altered water levels or flow, and degraded water quality and riparian land – those transitional areas between land and water, like riverbanks.”

Proposed projects addressing the causes of habitat decline might include efforts to:

Improve the management of riparian land.
Restore natural lake levels.
Improve or create passage for aquatic organisms by removing culverts, dams and other barriers.
Improve water quality.
Implement watershed-based approaches to improving both the quality and quantity of water.
Develop projects that demonstrate habitat conservation.
Restore stream function.
Add structural habitats, like woody habitat or aquatic vegetation.
Conduct assessments that will guide conservation projects.
Complete other projects that meet program goals.
Grant and application guidelines

Grant applicants may apply for and receive funding from all three themes with one application, if eligible for each. Funding is derived from:

An expected $1,250,000 from the Game and Fish Protection Fund, supporting the aquatic habitat conservation theme.
An expected $350,000 from the state’s General Fund, supporting the dam management theme.
$251,083 from a hydropower license and settlement agreement between Consumers Energy and several entities including the DNR, supporting aquatic habitat and recreation in the Au Sable, Manistee and Muskegon river watersheds
Grant amounts will start at a minimum of $25,000 and have the potential to be as large as the total amount of funding available in all theme areas for which a project is eligible. If necessary, smaller projects within the same region addressing similar issues and system processes can be bundled into a single grant proposal package to reach the minimum grant amount.

The DNR identifies specific priority projects, through its fisheries priority habitat projects list, which will receive preference during proposal review. Applications for projects on this list still will need to be competitive in other aspects, such as cost, appropriate methods and design, and applicant expertise, so the grants are not expected to exclusively fund projects on this list. In the previous grant cycle, about half of all funded projects were fisheries habitat priority projects.

All applicants must complete and submit a short preproposal for DNR review. Preproposals must be submitted by email to Chip Kosloski at KosloskiC3@Michigan.gov no later than Jan. 8, 2021. Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their preproposal by Feb. 5, 2021, and will be invited to submit a full application if successful. An invitation to submit a full application does not guarantee project funding. Final funding announcements are expected to be made by May 31, 2021.

The detailed program handbook, including timeline, and preproposal guidelines and forms are available at Michigan.gov/DNRGrants.