Large Trees Use to Create

Fish Habitat in Trout Stream

The 2012 helicopter-assisted placement of 126 large pine trees in a two-mile stretch of the Au Sable River created new fish habitat in one of the Midwest’s premier trout streams and capped a 10-year program that placed 1,200 trees in a 10-mile stretch of the river.

Description

The Au Sable River, in northern Michigan, is one of the Midwest’s premier trout streams.  The river flows through the Huron National Forest and into Lake Huron. Past activities, such as logging and the construction of dams, reduced the amount of large, woody debris in portions of the river. After a study showed that downed trees in the river restored aquatic habitat and blended in with the natural surroundings, the U.S. Forest Service in 2002 began using a heavy lift helicopter to place 1,200 whole trees in a 10-mile stretch of the river.  The project culminated in 2012 with the placement of 126 trees in the Au Sable River below Alcona Dam. It demonstrated that placement of whole trees in a river was an effective way to restore more natural conditions in rivers situated in forested settings.

Resource Challenges Addressed

  • Altered stream flow
  • Sediment build up
  • Loss of fish habitat

Results and Accomplishments

Placing trees in the Au Sable River created new habitat for fish and other aquatic life and restored more natural conditions in the river.

AU SABLE RIVER LARGE WOOD PLACEMENT

A helicopter places a large tree in the Au Sable River

A heavy lift helicopter was used to place 1,200 large trees in the Au Sable River. Photo credit: U.S. Forest Service.