Fish passage project bolsters a steelhead fishery

Project Summary A fish passage structure built in a Lake Erie tributary in Pennsylvania created a steelhead fishery and gave resident and migratory fish access to four additional miles of free-flowing stream by reconnecting the lake with the upper reaches of the watershed.

Project name: Fourmile Creek Fish Passage Project at Lawrence Park Golf Course.

Location: Lawrence Park Township, near Erie, Pa.

Description: The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission constructed a pair of fish passage devices along Fourmile Creek, a tributary of Lake Erie, which enters the lake east of Erie, Pa.  The project was completed in two phases.  The first phase restored fish passage at river mile 0.2 by the constructing an Alaskan Steep-pass fish-way at the Lawrence Park Golf Course dam in 2010.  The second phase restored passage at river mile 0.4 by constructing a 250-foot long naturalized bypass channel to restore fish passage to four miles of stream habitat along Fourmile Creek.

Excessive stormwater runoff created a barrier, above, to fish passage in Fourmile Creek. A fish passage structure (below) connected the upper portion of the creek to Lake Erie.

Approximate cost of project: $130,000. The project was funded in part by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Resource challenges addressed:  Stream fragmentation, fish passage, excessive stormwater runoff and scour along the lower reaches of Fourmile Creek. At the bedrock falls stream flow from Fourmile Creek is  now seasonally diverted into the bypass channel to provide passage for native and recreational fish species.  The project is part of a larger initiative to restore ecological function and improve fish passage in the Fourmile Creek watershed.

Key partners (public and private): U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, Lawrence Park Golf Course, Erie County Conservation District, Pennsylvania Sea Grant, Lawrence Park Township, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

Types of jobs created: Biologists, engineers, and construction tradesmen.

Results and accomplishments: Constructed a bypass channel to restore upstream fish passage to four miles of stream habitat along Fourmile Creek. The project establishes steelhead access into the middle and upper reaches of Fourmile Creek and creates a recreational steelhead fishery.

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Originally Published: March 4, 2012