Ford Center to Teach Loggers to Protect the Watershed

By Marcia Goodrich | Published

UP trout streams can look forward to a healthier future, thanks to a $165,590 grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to Michigan Technological University’s Ford Center, in Alberta.

The grant will fund the construction of a forest water quality and management demonstration area. Loggers, landowners and forest managers will be able to tour the demo area to learn about management practices that protect the local watershed.

The School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science will spearhead the project, under the direction of James Schmierer and James Rivard, both forester/lecturers in the School.

If not properly managed, timber harvesting can wreak havoc with local streams. "You can cause erosion and sedimentation, destroying fish habitat," Rivard said. "And if you slow the flow or remove stream-side vegetation, the water can warm to the point that trout cannot live there."

Improper road construction can alter surface drainage and create dams that flood the surrounding land, killing off trees and altering the landscape.

The demonstration area will exhibit a variety of stream crossings that protect the streambed and banks, including a timber bridge made from trees harvested nearby and a rock ford, which allows vehicles to drive across small streams without disrupting the creekbed.

The demonstration area will also illustrate road-building techniques that safely drain water from the roadway without damaging the landscape.

Construction on the three-year project starts this summer, and a series of workshops begins in spring 2009 for anyone interested in protecting water quality during timber harvesting.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.