TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Environmentalists are concerned that a proposed fish passage in Michigan could invite species that would hurt a pristine trout stream.
Traverse City commissioners met Tuesday to discuss how a proposal for a bidirectional fish passage is shaping up, the Record-Eagle reported . A tentative design proposed by a multi-agency team shows the passageway would replace a dam on the Boardman River, which the Department of Natural Resources considers a “Blue Ribbon” trout stream.
The proposed passageway would consist of a natural channel and a fish-sorting channel, and would work to control water flow for both, said Dan Zielinski, a computational scientist hired for the project.
Fish passage channels are usually fixed concrete rectangles, but the proposed one would be changeable depending on which species should be let through or blocked, said Andrew Muir, science director for the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission.
“We’re trying to develop something that’s modular and very adaptive, so we can modify it to try and sort the different fish as we learn,” he said.
Trout anglers and environmentalists have expressed concern about the proposal. The river already has a self-sustaining trout fishery and dams have blocked most of Lake Michigan’s invasive species from getting upstream, said Marc McKellar, a Traverse City resident who lives along the river. McKellar said installing a fish passage that is “completely conceptual” is risky for the river.
“Let’s get some more facts,” he said. “If you allow the passage to go in, it would create a major risk.”
Another resident, Gary Marek, said an environmental impact statement should be completed before installing a fish passage because the decision should be in the best interest of the river.
An open house is scheduled in October to get the public’s input on the project’s design.
Information from: Traverse City Record-Eagle, http://www.record-eagle.com