LINCOLN - The Alcona County Road Commission has been recognized by the Huron-Manistee National Forests for its 2011-12 contributions to a $2.5 million project that involved improvements to stream crossings.
The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act and Great Lakes Restoration Initiative launched the multi-project effort as a way to improve water and wildlife quality, while putting people to work during the recession.
The award recognized all of the partners in the Huron-Manistee region, said public affairs officer Ken Arbogast.
There were at least 15 to 17 other entries vying for the same award of protecting the environment across boundaries offered by the Eastern Region of the U.S. Forest Service, Arbogast said.
But the Northeast Michigan project ended at the top of the list.
"The partnerships that we developed over the past five to 10 years have been incredibly successful at improving water quality," Arbogast said. "Water is vital to our recreation, to our fisheries and to our way of life."
One of the county projects involved removal of a culvert at Sucker Creek. A timber bridge and bank-stabilizing materials were installed in its place to prevent sediments from running into the stream. Another objective was to improve conditions for fish, making it easier for them to increase.
There were a total of 14 projects completed in the forest, including six additional projects in Alcona County, officials said.
In the recognition letter, the forest's region supervisor, Barry Paulson, said the county provided $122,000 worth of equipment use and was primarily responsible for implementation.
Staff at Huron Pines, a non-profit conservation group, managed the project, contributing $98,000 in in-kind services, and the U.S. Forest Service provided $1 million and additional engineering support, he said.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the Natural Conservation Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Great Lakes Fishery Trust were also involved.
Improvements were made to 14 sites in the watershed over a two- to three-year period, Paulson said. Approximately 150 miles of streams were reconnected as habitat, keeping more than 180 tons of harmful sediments out of the water.
Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.