Barrier to aid in fight against lamprey
MANISTIQUE – A new barrier, meant to keep sea lamprey out of Lake Michigan, will be constructed on the Manistique River in the near future. The new barrier will replace an existing dam owned by Manistique Papers.
Gov. Rick Snyder and Department of Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh made the announcement Monday that the state will become an important partner the collaborative effort.
“Collaboration is key to moving Michigan forward and this local, state and federal partnership is a great example,” Snyder said. “Working together, we will help to protect Michigan’s precious water resources from the damage caused by invasive species while also assisting the city of Manistique with some of its needs. I appreciate all of the work that the partners have done to find creative solutions to these challenges.”
The current dam was built with the original intent of serving as an impediment to migrating sea lampreys. However, the structure is now more than 100 years old and deteriorating. Its worsening state has led to opening up the Manistique River, a watershed covering more than 3,600 miles, to sea lamprey.
Sea lamprey numbers in Lake Michigan have increased dramatically in recent years because of access to the Manistique River system. Subsequently, the river now produces the highest number of sea lamprey of any Lake Michigan tributary and is one of the highest producers in the entire Great Lakes basin. The invasive species can, as an adult, consume more than 40 pounds of fish during its lifetime.
“Driven by instinct to reproduce in the streams of the watershed where their larvae grow into ravenous parasites attacking fish species like lake trout, salmon, and whitefish, sea lamprey relentlessly destroy these fish and the economy they support,” said Great Lakes Fishery Commission Executive Secretary Dr. Christopher Goddard. “Vision, determination, cooperation, and courage among committed partners are crucial to successful transformation of the deteriorated dam into a new and powerful tool in the ongoing war against sea lamprey.”
At an estimated cost of nearly $750,000 to treat and kill sea lampreys every two years in the river, the project is expected to produce significant cost savings over time and allow other critical stream treatments to occur for the control of sea lamprey.
“Sea lampreys and other invasive species remain a serious threat to the ecology of the Great Lakes and to local economies,” said Creagh. “This partnership marks a significant step forward in addressing one piece of that problem and does so in a way that benefits the local community and the state. I couldn’t be more pleased.”
The new barrier will be constructed by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and financed by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. The Corps requires that a stable, non-federal partner take ownership of the sea lamprey barrier and associated structures. The state will fulfill that role.
In addition to Great Lakes fishery benefits, this project will also replace an aging water line critical to the city of Manistique and upgrade the city’s flood control wall.
Manistique Papers, Inc. will also benefit from this work by having much of the aging dam and associated infrastructure removed, thus providing benefits to the company’s operations.
Jon Johnson, executive vice president and general manager of the mill, noted that the new barrier will serve as a better way to keep invasive species, such as the sea lamprey, out of Manistique River.
“I’m glad the pieces of the puzzle pulled together to make this happen, “he said.