September 17, 2014

Rifle River project coordinators looking for volunteers

By Tim Barnum
News Editor | news@ogemawherald.com
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ARENAC COUNTY — The groundwork on a $382,000 federally funded Rifle River watershed restoration project will begin in May, and partners on the project are seeking volunteers to lend a hand in the undertaking.

Huron Pines project manager Abigail Ertel, who is coordinating the Rifle River project, said volunteers will start doing inventory work on road stream crossings on the river in the near future. She added that stream bank erosion inventories are expected to begin in June.

“We’re getting ready to start our road stream crossing inventory survey, probably in mid-May. … We will be starting our stream bank erosion inventory the first week of June,” Ertel said. “Basically, what it entails, you float on a predetermined reach of the river, and you look for areas where vegetation has been removed and you have sand or sediments going into the river.”

A project partner, according to Ertel, will hold a training session on detecting stream bank erosion June 4.

“We are working with the Mershon chapter of Trout Unlimited for training. The training is going to be for stream bank erosion inventory,” she said. “With Mershon, we’re going to start at the northern reaches of the main stream, south of the (Rifle River Recreation Area in Lupton) to Greenwood Road. It’s sort of a north to south progression.”

Ertel added that the Rifle River is broken up into six reaches in Ogemaw County and eight reaches in Arenac County. She said that people who would like to volunteer in an area south of where Trout Unlimited is concentrating, or who cannot attend the June 4 training session, can contact her at Huron Pines.

“We can organize those types of training with other groups,” she said.

In March, Ertel told the Herald that Huron Pines is working with the Rifle River Watershed Restoration Committee, Saginaw Bay RC and D, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and other individual partners on the project. Federal funding, she said, was provided by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. She added that the project is scheduled to be completed in December 2013.

This month, for the most part, has entailed continuing to put the pieces together so the project can get started on time, according to Ertel.

“It’s been bringing people together, organizing, recruiting volunteers … and basically spreading the word,” she said, adding that in early April she met with the Rifle River Watershed Restoration Committee. “They’ve been active in fundraising and bringing projects to the table.”

Ertel said in March that the project would entail updating the river’s management plan, restoration work and road and bridge improvements. Those interested in volunteering for the project can call 989-344-0753.

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