Traverse City News and Events

FishPass Construction Set To Break Ground October 24

By Beth Milligan | Oct. 16, 2020

Construction is slated to kick off on the FishPass project at the Union Street Dam with a virtual groundbreaking ceremony Saturday, October 24.

The virtual groundbreaking will stream live at 11am on the official FishPass Facebook page to allow project partners and the public to safely attend during the pandemic. The event coincides with World Fish Migration Day. The new FishPass system is a research and restoration project that will replace the aging Union Street Dam in downtown Traverse City. It will allow fish biologists from around the world to evaluate different fish sorting technologies to combat invasive freshwater species, such as the sea lamprey, from moving upstream to spawn.

"The result will be a world-class technology and research center in a park-like setting," according to a release from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. USACE awarded a contract to Traverse City-based firm Spence Brothers Construction for $19.3 million, with construction slated to be complete in late 2022. The project is primarily funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and led by the Great Lakes Commission in partnership with the City of Traverse City, Fisheries and Oceans of Canada, Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa/Chippewa Indians, Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Geological Survey.

USACE Great Lakes Program Manager Carl Platz says the knowledge gained from FishPass "will not only be utilized throughout the Great Lakes, but it will likely be applied across the nation as well." Traverse City Manager Marty Colburn calls it a "project of global significance," adding he is glad that "a local firm with a wealth of experience has been selected for this important project here in Traverse City."

According to Doug Stang, chair of the Canada-US Great Lakes Fishery Commission, "one of the greatest fishery management challenges of our time is how to pass desirable fish around barriers while simultaneously blocking the movement of harmful invasive species like sea lamprey. FishPass will be the place, the only place in the world, where an array of technologies and techniques will be evaluated to achieve that dual goal."

More information on the project is available online here.

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