For Immediate Release
Contact: Marc Gaden
The Dow Chemical Company presented the Great Lakes Fishery Commission with a $10,000 check today to launch a collaborative program aimed at more effective sea lamprey control and fish passage on Michigan's Tittabawassee River. The partnership ushers in a new era of cooperation between the Commission, the State of Michigan, and the private sector in the protection of the Great Lakes fishery resources. The Great Lakes Fishery Commission will match Dow's funds and hire a fish passage engineer to analyze the existing fishway at a Dow-owned dam and to suggest measures to establish an effective lamprey trap and fish passage facility at the site. Such a study has the potential for significant benefits to the fishery locally, lake-wide, and Great Lakes basin-wide. The ultimate goal is to put into place a barrier that prevents lamprey passage and enhances lamprey trapping while still allowing the passage of desirable stream spawning fish.
Near the Dow plant in Midland, Michigan, Dow Chemical operates a dam on the Tittabawassee River to secure a water supply for the company's operations. The dam has a fishway intended to allow the passage of desirable fish, but it was not an effective barrier against stream spawning sea lampreys. By 1985, so many spawning lampreys had bypassed the dam that the 1985 year-class of lampreys in the tributaries was by far the largest ever documented. In the ensuing years, sea lamprey management personnel observed greater densities of faster-growing larvae in the Chippewa River than had been seen in any Great Lakes stream.
The Tittabawassee River has several major tributaries--comprising 128 stream miles--that are infested with sea lampreys. One tributary, the Chippewa River, ranks among the most productive streams in the Great Lakes for sea lampreys. The Great Lakes Fishery Commission currently spends about $150,000 annually on lamprey control on the Tittabawassee River.
The program between the Commission, the State of Michigan, and Dow will provide funds for a graduate student to perform an engineering analysis of the fishway and to recommend improvements in the fishway to optimize fish passage while keeping lampreys from spawning in the Tittabawassee River. Over time, the Commission hopes to improve the barrier itself perhaps by experimenting with an electrical barrier at the site. The fishery stands to gain tremendously from this partnership. Particularly:
"The partnership between Dow and fishery agencies is a prime example of efficient, cooperative fishery management," commented Gail Beggs, the Great Lakes Fishery Commission's Chair. "In these times of shrinking budgets, the need to build partnerships and to seek alternative sources of funding for programs is vital. This collaboration will serve as a model for what we can do with the help of all people who want a healthy, productive Great Lakes fishery."
Ellie Koon, the U.S. Sea Lamprey Barrier Coordinator added: "Dow Chemical should be commended for its willingness to promote measures that benefit the Great Lakes fishery. The information we gather from this program will allow us to understand the things we can do to gain an edge over lampreys in the Tittabawassee River. The real winners from these efforts will be the people who use the fishery and the fish themselves."
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