Wetland Restoration Boosts

Outdoor Recreation

Restoring a wetland near Manistee River State Game Area is improving water quality, creating a home for wildlife, and creating additional outdoor recreation opportunities.


The Manistee Marsh is a unique historic coastal marsh found on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, part of the nearly 4,000-acre Manistee River State Game Area. The wetland covers 162 acres, providing a home to wildlife and recreational opportunities for people. But the wetland complex has faced multiple challenges over the years. Decades ago, it was drained for farming. In 1969, the wetland was restored only to be split by a highway. More recently, a pump that mimics natural water variations failed and prevented wetland managers from being able to control invasive Phragmites and other invasive species. But thanks to a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant work to restore the marsh has been completed. Restoration investments led to the replacement of the pump structure and installation of three new water control structures around the wetland that have helped to connect the river and the marsh and manage water levels to create and sustain a highly productive wetland for the benefit of wildlife and the people.

Resource Challenges Addressed

  • Lack of coastal wetland habitat for plants and wildlife
  • Poor water management
  • Invasive species
  • Poor water quality


An open marsh with small grasses poking through the water.

The Manistee Marsh provides habitat for osprey, snakes, and wild rice. Restoration of the marsh will also help filter pollutants before they reach Lake Michigan. Credit: Ducks Unlimited.

Results and Accomplishments

The project has helped restore the functionality of the wetland that will provide habitat for migratory birds as well as special concern species such as osprey, Eastern massasauga rattlesnake and wild rice, an important plant for the improvement of water quality. Ducks Unlimited engineered a solution which uses a natural stream to help replenish water levels, which provides fish access and reduces the need for Michigan Department of Nature Resource managers to physically pump water into the marsh. The successful project has enabled the state to look for ways to improve public access to the marsh.