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Restoring Connectivity on Tannery Creek

culvert with flowing water
A restored culvert along Tannery Creek.

The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (LTBB) recently completed the fourth and final replacement of undersized culverts on Tannery Creek, a tributary of Little Traverse Bay in northeastern Lake Michigan. Tannery Creek is home to native Brook Trout and contains spawning habitat for many anadromous Lake Michigan fishes. Because of its central location and fishing opportunities, the creek is heavily utilized by LTBB citizens exercising treaty fishing rights. Unfortunately, the creek has become heavily impacted by urbanization and has been plagued by flooding in recent years due to undersized culverts. This has also led to extensive erosion along the creek. In addition, multiple perched culverts, or culverts where the downstream outlet hangs above the level of the stream, limit the ability for fish to migrate upstream. These impacts have reduced connectivity throughout the watershed and degraded fish spawning habitat due to sedimentation.

Since 2018, LTBB has used GLRI funding in a multi-phased approach to replace four failing culverts along Tannery Creek. Two culverts were replaced in the summer of 2021, while work wrapped up on the last two culverts in October of 2022. Altogether these projects reconnected 3.22 miles of stream and reduced erosion by 4.86 tons of sedimentation per year by restoring stream flow to more natural conditions.