Large Trees Use to Create
Fish Habitat in Trout Stream
The 2012 helicopter-assisted placement of 126 large pine trees in a two-mile stretch of the Au Sable River created new fish habitat in one of the Midwest’s premier trout streams and capped a 10-year program that placed 1,200 trees in a 10-mile stretch of the river.
The Au Sable River, in northern Michigan, is one of the Midwest’s premier trout streams. The river flows through the Huron National Forest and into Lake Huron. Past activities, such as logging and the construction of dams, reduced the amount of large, woody debris in portions of the river. After a study showed that downed trees in the river restored aquatic habitat and blended in with the natural surroundings, the U.S. Forest Service in 2002 began using a heavy lift helicopter to place 1,200 whole trees in a 10-mile stretch of the river. The project culminated in 2012 with the placement of 126 trees in the Au Sable River below Alcona Dam. It demonstrated that placement of whole trees in a river was an effective way to restore more natural conditions in rivers situated in forested settings.
Resource Challenges Addressed
- Altered stream flow
- Sediment build up
- Loss of fish habitat
Results and Accomplishments
Placing trees in the Au Sable River created new habitat for fish and other aquatic life and restored more natural conditions in the river.
AU SABLE RIVER LARGE WOOD PLACEMENT
Location: Mio, Mich.
Approximate cost: $171,600 with $52,800 provided by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative
Key partners: Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, U.S. Forest Service, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and Huron Pines Conservation District
Types of jobs created: Foresters, loggers, helicopter pilot, general laborers, and ecologists