The goal of the Boardman River (Traverse City, MI) selective bi-directional fish passage project is to provide up- and downstream movement of native and desirable fishes while removing invasive fishes. Public consultations led by Michigan Department of Natural Resources will identify “desirable” species thereby prioritizing needs for passage. The Union Street Dam will be modified or removed and a testing facility with multiple experimental channels will be constructed to allow for natural experiments that will integrate a suite of technologies and techniques for selective fish passage and invasive species control. For example, water velocity barriers, light guidance, video shape recognition, and eel ladder style traps are just some technologies that could be integrated at the facility to sort fish and effectively pass or remove animals.
The project is a real-scale, natural adaptive management experiment in that pre-construction surveys on fish numbers and use of river habitats above and below the facility will be collected, channels will be constructed to restore connectivity where the barrier formerly existed, and then experimental treatments will be applied within the channel to optimize passage and sorting efficacy. After each experimental cycle, the system will be re-surveyed for animals above and below the experimental site, and on the basis of survey results, the arrangement of sorting methods can be manipulated to optimize selection. Once optimized (~10 year maximum), the system will be converted to a permanent fish passageway for the long term and purposed to pass desirable fishes and remove undesirable fishes. Lessons learned from the experimental phase will be applied to similar rivers and optimized to create selective fish passage at new sites. The project could have regional, national, and global implications.
Three workshops of fishery biologists and engineers will be held to: (1) identify site-specific needs to allow bi-directional selective passage on the basis of the ecology of target species and identify design elements of a novel fish passage system that would meet those needs (Nov 2016); (2) evaluate alternative concept designs to identify a solution that is maximally flexible to accommodate various fish sorting technologies and techniques (Spring 2017); and (3) evaluate a final site-specific engineering design (Summer-Fall 2017). The experimental system will be constructed during 2018-2019. Once constructed, an agenda of research will be implemented to optimize fish passage and removal (2019-2025). Once optimized, the system will become operational to help restore the Boardman River (2026).