CADILLAC—The log jams won’t be accidental. They won’t happen suddenly in a storm.
Instead, three log jams will be placed along the banks of the Pine River near Luther bit by bit, after a lot of planning.
Conservationists aim to place the three log jams at the Silver Creek State Campground in Lake County, near Luther. First, they’ll need permission.
“What we’re proposing is a benefit to the river in a couple ways,‘ said Nate Winkler, a biologist who works for Conservation Resource Alliance in Traverse City. Winkler applied for the permit on behalf of the alliance and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) will have to decide whether to let them do it. The application is in a public comment period until Aug. 25.
The log jams will benefit the river by preventing erosion on banks and bluffs and providing cover for fish and wildlife, Winkler said.
If anglers want big trout, the log jams can help the fish get that way.
“Log jams provide cover for trout, which they need to survive and grow and get big,‘ explained DNR fisheries biologist Mark Tonello. The cover provided by log jams will allow fish to hide from predators like blue heron, mink and otter. And the cover also allows fish to be more successful predators themselves, darting out from the shadows to ambush prey.
The log jams, which will be placed along the river banks, will also help trout by preventing erosion of the sandy banks and bluffs.
When the banks erode, sand slips into the river.
That’s no good on the Pine River, a river where trout naturally reproduce, no stocking by the DNR required.
“Those are free trout provided by Mother Nature,‘ Tonello said.
But those free trout need gravel to spawn and create more free trout. When banks erode and fill the rivers with sand, the sand covers and fills gaps between the gravel. Trout eggs don’t survive in sand.
Both Winkler and Tonello stressed that the log jams won’t impede water traffic—canoes and kayaks will still be able to navigate the waters because the log jams will be along the banks, not across the river.
While Conservation Resource Alliance is applying for the permit from EGLE, the organization is doing so on behalf of the DNR and with the financial backing of Lake County Community Foundation, Pine River Area Chapter of Trout Unlimited, the Pine River Association and the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, Winkler said. The organizations provided preliminary funding to plan the project and have committed some funds towards its completion.
Winkler anticipated work would be completed between January 2020 and January 2021 if EGLE issues the permit soon after the public comment period.