Hart Ford
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HomeOutdoorsRoads and fish benefit from culvert work

Roads and fish benefit from culvert work

Huron Pines culvert construction
Culvert construction at Carter Road.

ATLANTA —Gilchrist Creek is flowing freely once again since conservation nonprofit Huron Pines replaced two undersized crossing structures at Carter Road and Greasy Creek Road, reconnecting more than 40 miles of coldwater trout habitat and fixing long term issues with road maintenance.

A timber bridge now stands where Carter Road crosses Gilchrist Creek east of M-33 South. Twenty miles upstream at Greasy Creek Road, a new bottomless arch culvert allows brook and brown trout access to vital spawning, nursery and refuge habitat. Both structures virtually eliminate the risk of erosion issues and road washouts.

“From a road commission standpoint, we gained two new structures that should be very low maintenance for years to come and enhance the natural beauty (of the river) for the public to see and enjoy,” said Tom Behring, Managing Director of the Montmorency County Road Commission.

At Carter Road, a sturdy wooden bridge now stands where a steel culvert long caused Gilchrist Creek to flow too fast, contributing to the erosion of a steep and sandy riverbank downstream and sending harmful sediment into the river. Gilchrist Creek now flows unobstructed under the new bridge, and cobblestone arranged around its abutments contribute to a natural look and feel compared to the crumbling concrete headwalls of the former culvert. Carter Road won’t be completed until late October, Behring said.

culvert construction
A significant amount of sheeting was necessary a Greasy Creek Road.

Upstream at Greasy Creek Road, a bottomless arch has taken the place of two undersized pipe culverts that were a barrier to fish passage and posed a risk of road washout during times of high water. 

“The new bottomless arch culvert at Greasy Creek Road is a dramatic improvement to the roadway and river over the severely undersized culverts that were there,” said Josh Leisen, Senior Project Manager for Huron Pines. “Fish and floodwaters can now safely pass through this new structure and this project has fixed all the issues of the old crossing.”

These projects come on the heels of a 2020 project where a trio of undersize pipe culverts were replaced with a timber bridge where Harwood Road crosses Gilchrist Creek.

“Well-connected rivers are important for trout and other fish and wildlife that move throughout the river to spawn, find food and seek refuge,” Leisen said. “Reconnecting 40 miles of one of the highest-quality tributaries in the entire Thunder Bay River Watershed promotes a healthier trout population, restores river function, reduces flooding and erosion, and leads to safer roads and a cleaner river overall.”

The projects at Carter and Greasy Creek roads cost approximately $500,000.

Gilchrist Creek
Gilchrist Creek

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