Fish

There’s an interesting benefit to replacing the bridges and culverts: fish. Right now, there are minnows in the Cuddy Drain – just little generic minnows, who’ve probably entered the drain from the lakes that feed it, like Boot Lake and Mill Pond. They didn’t come from Gun Lake unless they can fly, because the existing culverts, through an erosion process called perching, have created “stairs” that fish can’t climb.

The new culverts will restore a continuous flow of water from Gun Lake to wherever an adventurous fish wants to explore, I guess? Jay Wesley, from the DNR’s Fisheries Department, said that carp/suckers are the most likely to venture upstream to spawn; and I guess ANY fish of size would be exciting to see?

But Jay mentioned something that falls into my category of “dreams” (and ONLY dreams): the Cuddy is a coldwater stream. At the height of a miserable week of 90+ degree temps in late August, the Cuddy temps were in the upper 50’s to low 60’s. The DNR definition of a coldwater fishery is anything below 71 degrees in July. Trout – those wily, silvery, critters who are SO delicious….are a coldwater species. *IF* (and this is where the dreaming starts) there were a piece of public land along the Cuddy Drain, the DNR would stock Brown Trout in it!!

How cool would THAT be??!!

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Great News For 1st St!

Yes, I had likened the “wounded” 1st St crossing over the Cuddy Drain, to a Ticking Time Bomb. I was worried that Spring flooding would take it out completely, but fortunately, the cold weather and slow snow melt never raised the Cuddy to worrisome levels. And now, the “bomb” will get defused!

Hopefully, by mid-to-late summer of THIS YEAR (yay!), the crossing will be replaced with the same type of 16′ wide x 4′ box culvert that will be installed on Patterson. Eroded banks will be shored up with riprap (big rocks). The floor of the stream will be stabilized. This will give local residents an easy detour around the Patterson bridge closure which will likely occur this fall.  (The official detour will utilize 6th St, which is paved – but 2.5 miles farther west)

Granted, the construction of the new bridge is bound to send sediment downstream; and it will probably occur before the Sand Trap is reopened – so Channel residents should expect muddy water and more sediment; first, from the 1st St construction; then from the Patterson construction. Navigation isn’t going to get any easier this summer, sad to say – but it’s the “dark before the dawn”. There’s no sense in dredging until all the construction is finished.

Patience is really going to be a virtue this summer!

“Sun and News” Article Clarification

A recent article in a local paper has some folks confused; so I thought I’d add some insight.

Yes, “a simple project to replace rusting culverts has become a major project“. Believe me, the Drain and Road Commissions would LOVE to simply replace the culverts. It would save a ton of time and money. It’s the Michigan DEQ who is demanding the 16′ wide by 4′ tall concrete bridge; that mandate has turned this into a major project.  The good aspect of the larger opening, is that water will flow quietly under the span; and since it won’t be turned into a “jet” by water being compressed through a culvert, there should be less erosion. Fish will be able to swim upstream. Debris won’t become trapped and cause a backup of water into residential areas.    The bad side of this, is that the wide opening will allow that same debris to enter navigable water, which is insanely dangerous, considering that some pieces are sections of tree trunks.   And of course, replacing the bridge is going to put sediment into the already-choked, almost un-navigable channel – there’s no way to prevent it.  These issues MUST be addressed as part of the bridge project.

Following the disastrous summer of 2012 [beaches closed due to e-coli], the Gun Lake Protective Association began testing portions of the lake for e-coli contamination and began looking for its source.  Tests of water coming through the Cuddy Drain conducted by an Association member [Deb] revealed higher than permissible levels for body contact”  I’ll admit I was offended by this, because the GLPA has been testing water in Gun Lake and tracking sources of pollution for decades.  Remarkably, the Gun River Watershed Management Plan issued by the DEQ in 2004, cites GLPA water-quality testing results from 1997, saying the Cuddy was a constant source of e-coli pollution and showing counts in the 1000 units/100ml range.  Two of the many goals set forth in the massive management plan was to “Prevent e-coli from entering surface waters and attain water quality standards for Total Body Contact (recreational: 130 units/100 ml) from May 1st to Oct 1 in Gun Lake“; and “ALL water bodies attain levels below 1000 units/100 ml for Partial Body Contact”  The Cuddy Drain IS part of the Gun River watershed.  The desire to make its water safe to be touched is neither unreasonable nor a new concept, and it’s a objective set forth by the DEQ.  Also – I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll say it again: the Cuddy had NOTHING to do with contamination at the State Park (those problems have been resolved).

Here’s the whole 194-page watershed study, if anyone cares to read it: http://www.michigan.gov/documents/deq/ess-nps-wmp-gun-river_208913_7.pdf

Drain Commissioner Russ Yarger said that dredging for  navigational purposes is prohibited by the Michigan Drain Code”  This is true, the Drain Commission dredges drains for the purpose of relocating water – BUT – that’s not to say that dredging the Cuddy residential channel can’t be included as part of the Bridge Replacement Project.  The channel residents will carry 100% of the cost of dredging “for navigation purposes” – and that’s why it would make sense to also offer that option to the residents of the Island Drive channel.  At least those residents can benefit from the dredging equipment already being in place.