News and Events

Innovation, excitement to begin at Boardman River System in Traverse City – Part 2

Fall fish migration in full swing at Boardman River Weir/James Price Trap and Harvest Facility.

Located in downtown Traverse City, the Boardman weir allows visitors to watch fish jump up the steps of the watery ladder and then splash around in the raceways. Then the fish are counted, weighed and sorted.

Located in downtown Traverse City, the Boardman weir allows visitors to watch fish jump up the steps of the watery ladder and then splash around in the raceways. Then the fish are counted, weighed and sorted. Photo: Michigan Sea Grant

Fall at the Boardman River is an exciting time. As mentioned in Part 1 of this story, the Union Street Dam site in downtown Traverse City has just been selected for a major 10-year demonstration project to block sea lamprey and yet encourage desirable fish migrating to and from Lake Michigan. Fall at the Boardman River Weir/James Price Trap and Harvest Facility also means salmon migration is running full-tilt and this facility is an exciting place to get close to these big fish.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has been planting Pacific salmon in the Boardman River since the mid-1980s. Hundreds of the chinook, coho and other species such as steelhead, brown trout, and others migrate up from Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay and corral at a bend in the river waiting to swim up the ladder into the trap and harvest facility. Located in downtown Traverse City, the weir allows visitors to watch the fish jump up the steps of the watery ladder and then splash around in the raceways. About once a week, typically when about 1,000 fish are in the facility, the fish are hauled out, counted & weighed and those other than coho and chinook are passed back out of the transfer facility into the river. Prior to the construction of the weir in 1987, salmon would head up small tributaries of the Boardman such as Kids Creek and then spawn and die in these populated areas, creating a smelly nuisance problem. Traverse City Light & Power built the facility, naming it after James Price, a board member, and has worked collaboratively with the state DNR to harvest fish since then, removing them for cat & dog food and smoked salmon, while fish eggs are made into caviar or used for other purposes.

The Boardman system is one place in an indicator system showing the Lake Michigan salmon and trout fishery is undergoing changes. In 2015, total salmon captured for the entire fall season at the Boardman weir was only 700 fish, the lowest number ever recorded. Compare this 700 number with just four years earlier where in 2011 a total of 17,983 fish were captured. Numbers are looking better, however, in 2016:  After just the first cleanout of the weir on Sept. 20, 2016, 924 fish were taken, more than the full fall season in 2015, and a second harvest also took place on Sept. 29, 2016. A full fall season at the weir typically runs mid-September to end of October.

The changes in the Lake Michigan fishery are causing management agencies such as the state DNR to reduce the salmon stocking numbers to keep a prey base of alewives and other species viable. There will continue to be discussions about the changes in Lake Michigan ecosystem and fishes amongst many state, tribal, federal, and citizen groups. It is exciting to know of the long-term importance the Boardman system has in the Lake Michigan fishery discussion, as both the weir and the future innovative fish passage systems will be key long-term assets.

If you can, consider taking a tour of the Boardman weir – it is open to the public and school groups through October. Fall tours at the Boardman as well as the Platte River weir (Benzie County) and the Little Manistee weir (Manistee County) are run by staff from the Michigan DNR’s Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery Visitor Center and Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center. Come learn about salmon, how weirs and fish ladders work, about some of the invasive species that are dealt with and their impact on Michigan’s fisheries.

This is Part 2 of this two-part story. Read Part 1 here.

Innovation, excitement to begin at Boardman River System in Traverse City – Part 1

River selected for 10-year pioneering experiment to create, evaluate state-of-the-art ways to block invasive species while allowing others to migrate.

The Boardman River demonstration site will also help draw tourists, scientists, and people interested in the Great Lakes fishery to Traverse City.

The Boardman River demonstration site will also help draw tourists, scientists, and people interested in the Great Lakes fishery to Traverse City.

The Boardman River, one of the top ten trout streams in Michigan and the largest tributary to Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay, has just been selected for a major 10-year demonstration project. The project will construct and evaluate state-of-the-art ways to both block invasive sea lamprey while encouraging passage of desirable fish migrating to and from Lake Michigan.

A broad partnership led by the Great Lakes Fishery Commissionand the City of Traverse City, (including the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa & Chippewa Indians, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, Fisheries & Oceans Canada, Michigan State University, theUniversity of Guelph, the Ontario of Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry, and the State of New York) announced this agreement after a unanimous vote by the Traverse City Commission on September 6, 2016.

The Union Street dam in downtown Traverse City has been in place since just after the Civil War (1867). This dam blocks passage of harmful sea lamprey to spawning grounds in approximately 150 miles of river and tributary streams. Yet, the dam also blocks passage for valued and prize species including lake sturgeon, walleye, and many other species. The old adage “healthy arteries make for a healthy heart” applies to the Great Lakes and its rivers – healthy connected flowing systems help make a strong and vibrant ecosystem. The conundrum exists in developing effective ways to keep invasive lamprey out while at the same time allowing desirable fish easy passage to a fast flowing cold river and tributary system.

The project will involve a steering committee of fishery experts and engineers who will identify potential technologies from around the globe and modify the existing dam and fish ladder to demonstrate blocking lamprey and passing desirable fish. One possibility that may be used involves using the fishes sense of smell – pheromones could be used to guide sea lamprey into traps and possible computer recognition of fish species could guide other species up the watershed.

The Boardman River was not the only possible demonstration site considered by the team of experts from the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. It was ranked with 12 other possible sites. However, many factors contributed to this decision:  the site is owned by the City of Traverse City; it aligns with other existing restoration projects; the property can be modified and can work within the existing footprint; there was a strong desire by the tribe, state, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the City of Traverse City for fish passage solutions, etc.

This demonstration site will also help draw tourists, scientists, and people interested in the Great Lakes fishery to Traverse City. Along with the nearby Boardman Weir in Traverse City, this site can potentially serve as a living laboratory for innovation for the Great Lakes and beyond.

Michigan Sea Grant Extension has an office within a short walk to the facility and will add value to the ongoing project throughout the next years. It is clearly an exciting time for the Boardman River system and in Traverse City.

This is Part 1 of a two-part story. Read Part 2.

Mackinac County Water Safety Review Team efforts continue to save lives

After son’s death, family remains committed to Great Lakes dangerous current education.

Travis Brown’s father Mike Brown (left) presents a check from Rieth-Riley Construction Co. Inc., to his father Wayne Brown, chairman of the Mackinac County Water Safety Review Team to be used for water safety projects.

Travis Brown’s father Mike Brown (left) presents a check from Rieth-Riley Construction Co. Inc., to his father Wayne Brown, chairman of the Mackinac County Water Safety Review Team to be used for water safety projects. Photo: Kathleen Arndt

Twelve-year-old Travis Brown’s death in the summer of 1998 followed a similar pattern of other drownings at the Hiawatha National Forest Service Campground, and U.S. Forest Service personnel began to question the safety of their waters for swimmers. Soon after, Michigan Sea Grant, Michigan State University Extension, and the Brown family of Gaylord met with Forest Service officials on drowning issues. This meeting led to the formation of the Mackinac County Water Safety Review Team, which helped bring many groups together to join in efforts to find ways to combat the drowning problem.

The review team’s first task was to address drownings along the U.S. 2 shoreline in Mackinac County on northern Lake Michigan and work to prevent future drownings. The group coordinated with emergency management personnel from several agencies, provided public service announcements in local media during the summer months, developed educational brochures and a traveling display, and placed signs warning swimmers of possible dangerous currents in the area of concern. Through these measures, the team was able to increase public awareness about dangerous currents along the northern Lake Michigan shoreline so swimmers and parents of young swimmers could take appropriate precautionary measures.

Additionally, the review team coordinated several public awareness days at the beach. At these events, information was presented on how dangerous currents develop and what swimmers can do to escape them. The team also provided tours of the safety stations that were placed every mile along the area of concern. The stations include life rings, life jackets, throw bags, and surf rescue boards to facilitate the rescue of swimmers in trouble. The team reached out to other Great Lakes Sea Grant programs and coordinated the first Great Lakes Rip Current Conference that took place in St. Ignace. Since then, many Great Lakes Dangerous Currents Conferences have been held throughout the Great Lakes region.

The review team’s efforts and accomplishments have become a model of efficiency and collaboration for other regional efforts throughout the Great Lakes.

The Mackinac County Water Safety Review Team was able to accomplish amazing tasks in a relatively short time and their efforts have been effective in saving lives. People are becoming aware of the potential risks of Great Lakes dangerous currents and that there is safety equipment available in many areas in case of an emergency. After Travis’ death, the Brown family has been an integral part of the team to help other families avoid accidents related to dangerous currents in the Great Lakes. Learn more about dangerous currents at safety equipment

Planning for the future of Rogers City’s Waterfront

Event Date: 10/25/2016
End Date: 10/27/2016


News Release

For Immediate Release

Joe Hefele
City Manager, Rogers City
(989) 734-2191

[Rogers City, Mich.] – On September 14, more than 80 Rogers City residents met at the Rogers City Theater to discuss the future of the city’s waterfront. The Rogers City community is now invited to the next phase of the case study.

From October 25 to 27, the city and project team will host a three-day planning meeting, or “design charrette,” to identify a shared vision for the community’s waterfront.

Three public events and several technical meetings are scheduled. Participants will explore ways to further distinguish Rogers City as a unique waterfront community and destination.

The state- and federally-funded project aims to assist coastal communities in identifying planning objectives to ensure a secure future for public harbors. Design and planning professionals will assist the community in developing a vision for the waterfront based on hands-on public participation.

Public Events for the Sustainable Harbor Design Charrette

Day 1: October 25
6 – 8 p.m.
Public Input Workshop

Day 2: October 26
6 – 8 p.m.
Open House: Selecting a Preferred Option

Day 3: October 27
4 – 6 p.m.
Public “Work in Progress” Session for Rogers City Waterfront

Evening events are held at the Presque Isle District Library, Rogers City, 181 E. Erie St.

Charrette team open studio at City Hall, Rogers City, 193 E. Michigan Avenue on October 26 and 27 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

What to Expect

On day one of the charrette, participants will identify several specific planning options for the waterfront and surroundings. During the open house on day two, participants will view visual depictions of the options identified on day one and will work towards a preferred option for the waterfront and surroundings. Day three will provide a review of the “work-in-progress” vision to ensure the research team accurately captured community preferences put forth throughout the process.

The research team will then return in several weeks with the community’s refined vision and supporting materials before delivering planning resources to the community.

Participants in the charrette will have the opportunity to consider many characteristics of the community including accessibility, available dockage, retail and service amenities, parks and recreation, aesthetic values, and finances. Each of these characteristics is important in positioning Rogers City as an environmentally, socially, and economically secure harbor community.

The research team will be stationed at the City Hall city council chambers through much of Wednesday and Thursday to develop visual and technical supporting materials for the preferred option. If you are unable to attend the evening open houses or are interested in the charrette process, you are welcome to visit the research team at City Hall between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday.

All Rogers City residents are encouraged to participate. Refreshments will be available for the three public sessions and no registration is required.

Sessions will take place at the Presque Isle District Library meeting room at 181 E. Erie Street, Rogers City.

For more information on the project, visit:

Additional Contacts

Dr. Donald Carpenter, P.E.
Project Manager
Lawrence Technological University
(248) 204-2549

Mark Breederland
Educator & Facilitator
Michigan Sea Grant Extension
(231) 922-4628

Dan Leonard
Northeast region Community Assistance Team
Michigan Economic Development Corporation
(989) 387-4467

Visioning for City of St. Ignace Waterfront

Event Date: 10/24/2016


News Release

For Immediate Release

Clyde Hart or Les Therrien
City of St. Ignace
(906) 643-9671

[St. Ignace, Mich.] – The City of St. Ignace has been selected as a case study community in developing a sustainable small harbor management strategy for Michigan’s coastal communities. A research and design team will engage the St. Ignace community in an exercise to identify opportunities to secure the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of public waterfront facilities and the nearby community.

Driven by input from local citizens and community leaders, the project will review a draft coastal community sustainability toolkit and create some updated vision options for the City of St. Ignace harbor and waterfront. This will include learning from potential management strategies useful for small harbors elsewhere in Michigan and, more specifically, to assist the City of St. Ignace with identifying planning objectives that help ensure a more secure future.

The project is supported by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Office of the Great Lakes, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Lawrence Technological University, Edgewater Resources, Michigan Sea Grant, Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development, and Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Public Meetings for Sustainable Harbor Visioning

Visioning Meeting
2–5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24, 2016
St. Ignace Public Library
110 W. Spruce Street
St. Ignace, Michigan  49781

Agenda and more details available at:

Benefits to St. Ignace

As one of six case study communities, St. Ignace will benefit from in-depth visioning assessment — typically valued into the thousands of dollars — at no direct cost. The multi-disciplinary project team will host a key meeting to garner feedback, develop ideas, and create a sustainable vision for the St. Ignace waterfront and nearby areas.

Share Your Vision

Developing a vision for a sustainable harbor requires input from a wide range of stakeholders, including landowners, waterfront users, planning officials, chamber of commerce members, and local citizens. To share your vision, please attend this upcoming public meeting to collaboratively develop vision elements for the St. Ignace waterfront.

The visioning meeting is scheduled for 2 –5 p.m. Monday, October 24, 2016, at the St. Ignace Public Library, 110 W. Spruce Street,  St. Ignace, Michigan. Discussion will include pedestrian access, harbor use, and linking the waterfront to downtown and commercial areas.


Additional Contacts:

Mark Breederland
Educator & Facilitator
Michigan Sea Grant Extension
(231) 922-4628

Dr. Donald Carpenter, P.E.
Project Manager
Lawrence Technological University
(248) 204-2549

Doing this one thing will improve the quality of sport-caught fish

Fish should be iced down immediately to help prevent bacterial growth, spoilage – even when the weather is cool.

A combination of proper icing, handling, and sanitation greatly delays spoilage of sport-caught fish. Icing fish immediately when caught makes conditions unfavorable for bacterial growth. It is important to eliminate unnecessary sources of contamination, such as unclean coolers, to decrease initial numbers of bacteria. For instance, before each fishing trip fish storage coolers should have been thoroughly cleaned with a detergent, rinsed, and then sanitized. A suitable sanitizer can be made by mixing 4 ounces of unscented household bleach into approximately 3 gallons of water.

Fish are easily damaged when improperly handled after landing them in the net. It is important to avoid bruising fish as they are lifted on deck and stowed in the cooler. Bumping and bruising the fish may release enzymes which softens the flesh and makes nutrients available for bacterial growth. Bruises and cuts on the fish are unsightly and provide bacteria access to an otherwise sterile tissue. Research has shown that even unbruised fish flesh taken from bruised fish contain ten times more bacteria than did flesh from unbruised fish resulting in reduced quality and shortened shelf life.

Temperature is the single most important factor affecting the quality of fish as the rate of bacterial growth and spoilage are dependent on it. These processes occur slower as the temperature is lowered. Although it is not possible to completely stop bacterial growth by chilling fish, the rate of bacterial growth and spoilage can be significantly reduced by keeping fish chilled as close to freezing as possible.

Rapid onboard icing is the most effective means of controlling bacteria as it quickly brings the temperature of the fish down to below 40oF. The benefits of icing include rapid cooling of the fish, slows bacterial and enzymatic activity, flushes away bacteria as it melts, prevents drying, delays rigor mortis for improved texture, and resists freezing in cold weather for improved texture. Ice is convenient and inexpensive and its use should not be postponed until arrival at dockside.

Michigan State University in a past study related to the Great Lakes commercial fishing industry demonstrated the importance on onboard icing of fish. Although air and water temperatures were lower in one trial with no ice on board, bacteria and hypozanthine (a product of degradation) increased more rapidly during storage than in another trial when fish were iced on board at higher temperatures. This study supports the recommendation that fish be iced regardless of weather conditions. The study also showed the need for the use of ice even when fish are held at 30o F as the flushing action of melting ice extended shelf life.

When ice is used for cooling and storage it should be placed with the fish to ensure the greatest contact with the fish surfaces. Enough ice should be used so that fish contact only ice as they should not be in contact with each other or the bottom or sides of the cooler. Fish contacting each other or the cooler may promote spoilage by anaerobic bacteria. Flake ice is the best to use as it will not cause bruising of the fish and it provides a better contact area with the surface of the fish.

Ups and Downs of Lake Michigan Fishing

Event Date: 10/12/2016

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

12–1 p.m. and 5–6 p.m.

Over the past few years, Lake Michigan and tributary streams like the Pere Marquette River have seen a decline in Chinook salmon fishing. Join Dr. Dan O’Keefe to learn how ecosystem changes have influenced fishing throughout the lake’s history.

This is a free program.

Please RSVP:
Cara Mitchell
(231) 843-5825

Talk location:
West Shore Community College
Schoenherr Center, Room 751
3000 N. Stiles Road
Scottville, MI 49454

AFDO/Seafood Alliance HACCP Training Course

Event Date: 12/13/2016
End Date: 12/15/2016

Join a Seafood Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) Training Course coordinated by Michigan Sea Grant, Michigan State University Extension, and the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission. The course will be held December 13-15, 2016, at Bay Mills Resort and Casino in Brimley, Michigan. All fish processors are required to take this training if they are not currently certified.

Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) programs involve day-to-day monitoring of potential safety hazards at critical control points by production employees. The Seafood HACCP regulation that is enforced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is based on the belief that commercial fish processors can understand the food safety hazards of their products and take reasonable steps to control them. Commercial fish processors are required either to obtain formal training for one or more of their own employees or to hire trained independent contractors to perform the HACCP functions. The HACCP regulation requires processors to keep extensive records of processing and sanitation at their facilities.


Ron Kinnunen
MSU Extension Sea Grant Educator, Michigan Sea Grant Program
710 Chippewa Square, Suite 202, Marquette, MI 49855
Phone/fax: (906) 226-3687

Jim Thannum
Planning & Development, Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission
Maple Lane (mailing P.O. Box 9), Odanah, WI  54861
Phone: (715) 682-6619
Fax: (715) 682-9294

Beth Waitrovich
Health & Nutrition, Michigan State University Extension Educator
800 Crystal Lake Blvd, Suite 200, Iron Mountain, MI 49801
Phone: (906) 774-0363
Fax: (906) 774-4672

Great Lakes Fisheries Heritage Trails Conference

Event Date: 11/2/2016
End Date: 11/3/2016

Conference to share practical ideas to increase tourism through fisheries heritage exhibits and experiences.

You are invited to join and participate in the Great Lakes Fisheries Heritage Trails Conference on November 2-3 in Alpena, Mich. A great opportunity to make new connections, gain information, resources, and new ideas about how fisheries heritage can help promote education and tourism opportunities in our communities. The Besser Museum in partnership with NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Michigan Sea Grant, Michigan State University Extension, and partners of the Great Lakes Fisheries Heritage network are host to this 2016 annual conference that celebrates fisheries heritage.

A networking opportunity, this conference brings together museums, resource experts and community partners to connect with Great Lakes fisheries and maritime heritage, communities and coastal tourism. Conference theme of “Netting your Audience” explores how fisheries heritage exhibits and events can better connect with community, educational and tourism audiences in sharing Great Lakes fisheries heritage experiences.

A conference highlight includes a whitefish lunch and exhibit tours at the Besser Museum, home to a growing fisheries heritage exhibit. The Besser Museum recently received the retired Lake Huron fisheries research vessel R/V Chinook from Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Lake Huron fisheries research stories reflected in this vessel will serve at the center of a future Great Lakes science heritage exhibit—and will complement the Museum’s Katherine V commercial fishing vessel and exhibits promoting commercial and sport-fishing on Lake Huron. Learn about Besser Museum’s efforts make educational and tourism connections with Lake Huron’s commercial fishing and sport-fishing’s storied past – as well as that of the science and management organizations that work to protect these fisheries.

The conference offers opportunities to learn more about Michigan’s Great Lakes Fisheries Heritage Consortium projects and partnerships, including collaboration among this growing statewide fisheries heritage tourism trail network. Our Great Lakes fisheries (past, present, and future) can benefit local museum programs, promote Great Lakes literacy, enhance coastal tourism development opportunities, foster educational connections, and support community development efforts.

This two-day conference will offer:

  • Conference kick-off and networking reception begins at 1 p.m. Nov. 2, 2016, with a picnic luncheon (provided) and guided tours of Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan’s fisheries heritage educational exhibits and vessels – the commercial vessel Katherine V and recently retired Lake Huron research vessel R/V Chinook.
  • Great Lakes Fisheries Heritage Consortium business meeting (open to all interested) will be held at 4 p.m. Nov. 2, 2016, at the Besser Museum. Attend and learn more about the planning and projects of this statewide network of organizations collaborating with a common interest in protecting and promoting our Great Lakes fisheries heritage.
  • Conference educational sessions begin 9 a.m. Nov. 3, 2016, at the NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center. Join in the conversation and share ideas and experiences toward innovative educational strategies for bringing fisheries heritage stories to life – within museums, among communities, and across a Great Lakes Fisheries Heritage Trail. Review a detailed agenda online to learn more about educational topics and contributing speakers.

Learn more and register online today

Visit the conference website to register online. This educational program is open to all those interested in promoting maritime heritage tourism and Great Lakes stewardship. To save your seat, please register by Oct. 27.

Registration is $30 ($10 for students) and includes picnic lunch and guided tours at Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan on Nov. 2 and participation in educational conference sessions with lunch on Nov. 3 There is no cost to attend the Consortium business meeting on Nov. 2.

For additional information about this educational program contact Brandon Schroeder, Michigan Sea Grant Extension (, 989-354-9885).
Image of Fishery Heritage Trail historical sign

Extension Educator Opening with Michigan Sea Grant

Event Date: 9/27/2016
End Date: 10/13/2016

Join the Michigan Sea Grant team as an Extension educator in the Saginaw Bay region!

The person in this position will work collaboratively with Sea Grant staff and other Extension educators to provide leadership and programming for the Saginaw Bay region. This person will work with other partners and stakeholders to support research, restoration, and educational activities related to the conservation of freshwater wetlands, water quality, fish, and wildlife habitat within Saginaw Bay, Lake Huron, and the Great Lakes ecosystem. This person will bring his or her own expertise to the table while also becoming fluent in the challenges and opportunities unique to the region.

Minimum qualifications for the position include a master’s degree in a related field of study and three years of experience delivering and evaluating educational programs. For more details about duties, qualifications, and application instructions, click here. Application review will begin on Friday, October 14, 2016 and continue until the position is filled.