Restoration work continues on the Au Train River | News, Sports, Jobs


GLADSTONE – During the brief summer on the Upper Peninsula, people want to get in the water – and the Au Train River Canoe Trail offers a relaxing four to six hour canoe trip for those looking for a slower adventure. This easy, beginner-friendly pace makes the Au Train River a very popular outing. During the summer months, the river regularly sees 800 to 1,000 paddlers each weekend.

Over time, this volume of use accelerates bank erosion, which increases sedimentation in the water and degrades fish habitat. So, over the past five years, Hiawatha has partnered with organizations such as the Great Lakes Climate Corps, YouthWork, and Trout Unlimited to restore shorelines and mitigate human-caused erosion.

This year, Hiawatha has teamed up again with one of its longtime partners, the Great Lakes Climate Corps, to build on previous restoration work with a new five-year project. Twelve sites along the river will be improved and several miles of fish habitat will be enhanced. Day-use sites will be enhanced to be more inviting for recreators by providing comfortable places for them to take a break with minimal impact to the terrain, while user-created sites will be enclosed using logs coir (coconut logs), weirs (bundle vegetation) and saplings to discourage paddlers from further eroding the sites. This allows sites to eventually return to their natural state

“Erosion is a natural process on the sand bed of the river, so we should expect to see some sand accumulating on the outside of the bends in the river each spring as the water rises after the melt. of snow”, said Lindsey Goss, hydrologist at Hiawatha. “However, when you have a lot of paddlers, when they see that sand, it’s a place where they want to congregate. And they come in, and

all of this foot traffic damages the already degraded soil, accelerating erosion which is occurring at an exponential rate.

You can help by heeding Forest Service signs that direct you away from certain areas and by being careful where you choose to bank.

“If you see an area with sparse vegetation, but enough sand to sink in, don’t set foot there,” said Goss. “It’s already a fragile system, and all it takes is a few footprints and you’ve already uprooted that vegetation and accelerated the rate of erosion.”

Goss said these collaborative restoration partnerships are invaluable in improving and managing the land for environmental and recreational longevity.

“We’re just one agency and we have a limited staff here at the Forest Service, so any time we can increase our workforce through agreements and partnerships, it really helps with the big picture. to restore and maintain our public lands”, said Goss.

And partnerships like these also offer new conservationists the opportunity to explore career paths while making a difference.

“It’s incredible” said Alec Bush, Great Lakes Climate Corps team leader. “A lot of people I’ve spoken to who have worked here can come back a few years later and still see the work they did. So I’m excited to come back in a few years and see how things are going.

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