UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WJMN) – The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is the recipient of a $5 million grant to restore waterways in 14 counties across the state. The DNR is receiving the grant through the America the Beautiful Challenge, a $1 billion program through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

The award will help the DNR remove 27 stream barriers that will restore the ability for fish and other aquatic animals to pass through. The DNR says the work will also benefit at-risk Michigan species, including the eastern massasauga rattlesnake, pickerel frog, and freshwater mussel species including the fluted shell and elktoe.

The DNR says projects also help eliminate risks to public safety for those sites that have road traffic moving over the waterways.

In the UP, the following streams will benefit from the DNR’s planned work:

  • Carr Creek in Delta County
  • Dana Lake in Delta County
  • Little Bay de Noc in Delta County
  • Two Mile Creek in Gogebic County
  • Spring Creek in Luce County
  • McAlpine Creek in Mackinac County
  • Silver Lead Creek in Marquette County

“Put simply, fish and other organisms in the water need to move,” said DNR Director Dan Eichinger. “Throughout their many life stages, whether they’re seeking food, reproducing, hiding from predators or seeking shelter from extreme conditions, fish have to be able to easily move within their waters, as well as between bodies of water. Removing barriers to such movement means we can better protect fish populations.”

As part of the project, the DNR will partner with local organizations and federally recognized tribes to reconnect almost 200 upstream miles of rivers and streams. The DNR’s partners include Partners include the Conservation Resource Alliance, Huron Pines, the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Michigan Trout Unlimited, the Muskegon River Watershed Assembly, the Superior Watershed Partnership and Land Conservancy and the U.S. Forest Service.

“Michigan’s natural resources are some of the best in the nation, and we will work with anyone to preserve them for future generations,” said Governor Whitmer. “These federal grants for our inland waterways will help us protect several at-risk species, reduce risks to public safety and improve climate resiliency. Let’s keep working together to ensure that all our waters, from the Great Lakes that define us to our thousands of inland waterways, are safe for decades to come.”

Michigan is one of 6 applicants to the America the Beautiful Challenge to be awarded the maximum $5 million grant. You can read about the America the Beautiful Challenge here and find a full list of recipients here.