TRAVERSE CITY — Another $11,000 grant can be added to the tally in the effort to reintroduce arctic grayling to Michigan streams, including the venerated Au Sable River in Grayling, a Crawford County city named for the locally extinct fish.
The state Department of Natural Resources on Monday announced a new grant made to the fisheries division by the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Foundation. The grayling initiative is a cooperative effort between the DNR and the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians.
“The grayling reintroduction is a tremendous collaborative effort and there simply is no way we can bring this iconic fish back to Michigan without the generous contributions of others,” said Jim Dexter, DNR fisheries chief.
The Natural Resources Commission will hear an update on the arctic grayling program at 10 a.m. today (May 10) at Kirkbride Hall in The Village of Grand Traverse Commons.
Grayling once thrived as a native species in Michigan’s cold-water streams. However, habitat destruction from logging, excessive fishing and competition with introduced trout species led to the grayling’s demise here in the early part of the 20th century.
Sarah Ford, community and donor engagement officer with the foundation, said the organization was able to fund the project with an extra $1,000 beyond the requested $10,000 thanks to some individual donors. “They felt the project was important to support a legacy project for our region and Michigan,” she said.
There are 45 organizations that so far contributed to the grayling initiative, including the Consumers Energy Foundation, Rotary Charities of Traverse City and a private donor. More than $418,000 have been raised toward the $1.1 million estimated cost of the effort.
The reintroduction project is expected to mimic the efforts of Montana, where fisheries biologists worked for the last 30 years to restore a self-sustaining grayling population. Fisheries biologists in Alaska, Montana and Michigan are collaborating on the ongoing arctic grayling initiative.