The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and Michigan Technological University have received a Consumers Energy Foundation grant of $117,175 to support efforts to bring back the extirpated Arctic grayling to Michigan waters.
Michigan’s Arctic Grayling Initiative was announced in June 2016 and consists of 32 organizations that are partnering together to reintroduce this culturally significant species.
The Consumers Energy Foundation grant will fund work during 2017 to address two immediate needs for a successful reintroduction. The first is the collection of habitat and fish community data in the upper Big Manistee River. This waterbody historically was a premier Arctic grayling river and is believed to hold high-quality habitats for this species. The second is to create an outreach plan to engage Michigan citizens in the reintroduction efforts and to once again make Arctic grayling an important part of Michigan’s heritage.
“The contributions from Consumers Energy Foundation will be extremely helpful as we move forward with this unique initiative,” said DNR Fisheries Division Chief Jim Dexter. “The partnerships cultivated throughout the course of the Michigan Arctic Grayling Initiative are critical to meeting our goals and seeing success.”
The Arctic grayling is an iconic and treasured part of Michigan’s history, and was the only abundant stream salmonid in the Lower Peninsula. It has not been present in Michigan since the 1930s.
“The Little River Band of Ottawa Indians is thrilled by the support to continue this historical initiative we launched in 2010,” said the director of the band’s Natural Resources Department, Frank Beaver. “It’s so exciting to see so many partners working in parallel with our goals to try and bring back this significant species.”
Members of Michigan’s Arctic Grayling Initiative have met twice to identify knowledge gaps and to discuss management and stocking strategies and public outreach.
The information collected through the Consumers Energy Foundation grant, combined with previously gathered data, will guide management agencies in selecting appropriate reintroduction sites. Consumers Energy has supported this initiative through funding and as a participant during two partners meetings.
“As a company focused on leaving our state better than we found it, Consumers Energy is proud to be part of a public-private partnership to help bring native Arctic grayling back to our home waters,” said David Mengebier, president of the Consumers Energy Foundation. “We are confident by combining forces with the other stewards of our land, air, water and wildlife involved in the Michigan Arctic Grayling Initiative that this swimming icon of clean waterways will again flourish in Michigan rivers.”
For more information on the history of Arctic grayling in Michigan, visit Michigan.gov/fishid.