Restoring Land Surrounding Duncan Bay

Improves Coastal Habitat

Purchasing and restoring 317 acres of land surrounding Duncan Bay improved aquatic habitat and fostered outdoor recreational opportunities.


Duncan Bay is located on Lake Huron, just outside of Cheboygan, Mich. Undisturbed areas surrounding Duncan Bay still support wide varieties of wildlife and habitat. A mosaic of marshes, dunes, swales, and upland forests provide habitat for many rare species and migrating birds. Unfortunately, as with many coastal ecosystems in this region, encroaching development and invasive plants threaten to degrade this special ecosystem. Furthermore, while this area provides important habitat for coaster brook trout, several road crossings with old, undersized culverts prohibit fish passage and introduce street pollution and sand into the streams.

Thanks to grants from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and others, the Huron Pines Resource Conservation and Development Council was able to create and protect a large track of undisturbed land in this area. First, Huron Pines coordinated the purchase of 317 acres of coastal property, which were placed into a local preserve system. Workers then removed invasive plants, replacing them with native plants to restore the shoreline wetlands. Two old, failing culverts were replaced with larger structures that naturalize stream flow, allowing brook trout to pass through them. Huron Pines and their partners are also building a trail system, complete with a boardwalk and viewing platform, that will encourage recreational use of the area. Primary construction is expected to conclude in 2019, after which the property will be maintained by the Little Traverse Conservancy.

Resource Challenges Addressed

  • Lack of native habitat
  • Invasive species
  • Sediment pollution
  • Low aquatic connectivity


People take measurements around a culvert

Huron Pines staff take initial monitoring points for the new culvert at Elliot Creek. It will be replaced with a larger culvert that allows aquatic organisms to pass freely upstream, which is important for Coaster Brook Trout. Credit: Huron Pines.

Results and Accomplishments

This project protected 317 acres of high-value coastal habitat and 3,500 feet of shoreline from being fragmented by future development. The project restored wetland and upland habitat by removing invasive plants and planting natives, and restored aquatic habitat by upgrading the culverts at two road-stream crossings to reduce sediment pollution and allow passage by coaster brook trout. A trail system will provide recreational access to the property and help connect the city of Cheboygan with the nearby Cheboygan State Park.