FishPass Updates

Updated June, 2024

Dear partners and stakeholders:

On behalf of the FishPass team, I am pleased to provide an update from April-May 2024. Future updates will be provided monthly.


  • 24 April 2024 - A pre-construction meeting was held with representatives from Spence Bros., U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians (GTB), MI Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), MI Department of the Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), AECOM (designer of record), Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC), and City of Traverse City. The purpose of the meeting was to develop a mutual understanding between the Contractor and the Government regarding procedures on contractual and administrative matters related to FishPass construction. Among the items discussed during this meeting are the following: contract clauses, accident prevention, environmental protection, and other technical and administrative provisions identified in the construction contract. The initial construction schedule (Figure 1) was also discussed during the meeting.
Construction timeline chart for the fishpass project from May 2024 to November 2026, divided into two phases.  Phase 1 includes:  Fencing, site preparations, site removals, and watermain from May 2024 to July 2024.  Install and dewater upstream cofferdam from July 2024 to September 2024.  Construct arc labyrinth weir from August 2024 to November 2024.  Install and dewater downstream cofferdam from October 2024 to January 2025.  Demolish auxiliary spillway and fishway, construct temporary bypass channel from January 2025 to February 2025.  Phase 2 includes:  Install and dewater cofferdam on north shore from February 2025 to May 2025.  Demolish main spillway, construct fish-sorting channel from April 2025 to July 2025.  Remove temporary sheeting, install gantry crane, pedestrian bridge, and grade river banks from July 2025 to November 2025.

Figure 1 Preliminary construction schedule for Phase 1 & 2 (in-stream work). The schedule is subject to change as the project progresses.

  • May 2024 - Site fencing, tree protection limits, and erosion control fencing were installed. All trees within the project site were inspected and cataloged noting the species, diameter-at-breast-height, condition, and construction status (save or remove) was created. A portion of trees slated for removal were removed from the site to allow for construction on the south side of the river. Pavement in Lot J was removed and work began on the installation of a new watermain. Additional site preparatory work was completed in advance of sheet pile installation starting in July 2024.
    A two-phase partnering meeting was held with the first phase of the meeting included a stakeholder/rightsholder group comprised of signatories to the FishPass MOU and member agencies/institutions of the Boardman River Implementation Team. The second phase of the meeting was held for representatives of the three neighboring properties to engage with the Spence Bros., USACE, GLFC, AECOM, and the City about the construction schedule and process and to establish clear lines of communication during construction.
  • May 2024 - The City of Traverse City, in cooperation with FishPass partners, was awarded a $1 M Dam Risk Reduction Grant from the MI Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) to support FishPass construction.
  • June 2024 - The contractor will begin pre-construction documentation for vibration and settlement monitoring prior to the installation of sheet piling. The sheet piling will allow for construction of FishPass under dry conditions.


  • April-June 2024 - Staff from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) continued work on a two-year study initiated in 2023—Spatio-temporal drift patters of larval fish in the Boardman/Ottaway River. Field crews deployed 500-µm mesh D-frame nets for two non-consecutive sampling events during day and night weekly at six sites and also deployed 1600-µm mesh D-frame nets at one additional site. Two weeks of sampling upstream and downstream of the Union St. Dam for larval entrainment/damage comparison were also completed in early May. In total 460 larval drift samples were collected by the end of May. The goal of the study is to address the current knowledge gap on the composition and timing of downstream fish embryo and larval drift in the Boardman/Ottaway River.
  • 08 May 2024 - GLFC and GTB staff completed the first scheduled "quarterly" index electrofishing survey in the lower Boardman/Ottaway River (below Union St. Dam). These surveys are conducted to understand the seasonal diversity and abundance of fishes in that section of river. Results can be found below.
Table showing fish species, sample sizes (n), and average lengths in inches.  Species listed are:  Chinook salmon: n = 1, Ave. Length = 5.9*, Northern pike: n = 2, Ave. Length = 33.5, Alewife: n = 22, Ave. Length = 6.1, Brown trout: n = 2, Ave. Length = 19.2, Coho salmon: n = 21, Ave. Length = 6.7, Common carp: n = 2, Ave. Length = 26, Common white sucker: n = 132, Ave. Length = 18, Gizzard shad: n = 1, Ave. Length = 17.4*, Longnose sucker: n = 12, Ave. Length = 17.5, Rainbow trout: n = 29, Ave. Length = 19, Smallmouth bass: n = 14, Ave. Length = 18.5, Walleye: n = 9, Ave. Length = 26.4, Yellow perch: n = 1, Ave. Length = 8.3*, *Denotes a sample size of one.


  • 16 April 2024 - Reid Swanson (GLFC) presented an invited talk, FishPass - a vision for selective fish passage solutions to the connectivity conundrum, at Free Flow- International conference on protecting and restoring free-flowing rivers Oosterpoort, Groningen, Netherlands
  • 5-9 May 2024 - Dan Zielinski (GLFC) presented a talk, Exploration of the science supporting selective connectivity at fish migration barriers, at the 15th International Symposium on Ecohydraulics and Fish Passage in Québec City, Canada.
  • 16 May 2024 - A community celebration of FishPass was held at the Traverse City Opera House with an exclusive screening of the documentary "The Ottaway; A River Reconnected.""
  • 25 May 2024 – Reid Swanson (GLFC), Frank Dituri (City of Traverse City), Karen Murchie (Director of Freshwater Research- Shedd Aquarium & FishPass science team member), and additional GLFC staff hosted an educational table at a World Fish Migration Day event at The John G. Shedd Aquarium – Chicago, Illinois. World Fish Migration Day is a global awareness campaign celebrated every two years to highlight the connections that migratory fishes have with human and non-human species, lands, and waters. This day is marked by celebrations, events, and action campaigns organized by people around the world to connect fish, rivers, and people. More information on World fish Migration Day can be found here:


  • 1 June 2024 – Reid Swanson (GLFC) will provide an educational presentation on the concept, design, and research of FishPass at the annual meeting of the Paul H. Young chapter of Trout Unlimited at Camp Wa Wa on the AuSable.
  • June 5 – Leah Bagdon McCallum will participate in Traverse Connect's Economic Strategy Session II: Outdoor Recreation as an Economic Driver panel discussion about the value and impact of outdoor recreation - specifically related to freshwater - and the opportunities that FishPass presents for paddlers and anglers on the Boardman/Ottaway.
  • June 11 – Leah Bagdon McCallum will join leadership from the Freshwater Research and Innovation Center in hosting MSU's Water Alliance - exploring ways for the University, and other higher education partners, to be a part of the region's growing freshwater research opportunities.
  • 20 June 2024 – Dan Zielinski (GLFC) will present on the FishPass project at the Community Development Coalition's Speaker Series Luncheon. Please register to attend by Monday, June 17.
  • 1 July 2024 – Preparation meetings for sheet pile work will begin. No construction will take place due to Cherry Fest and 4th of July holiday. Material delivery and installation will likely begin the week of 8 July 2024.
    • Material deliveries on site will require semi-trailers to pull into 6th Street and back into the Lot J entrance. Temporary traffic control will be provided.

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