Committee lays out plans for Rifle River projects


WEST BRANCH — The Rifle River Watershed Technical Committee held its quarterly meeting March 20 in West Branch and announced upcoming Rifle River restoration projects, some of which are planned for Arenac County.

Josh Leisen, a watershed project manager for Huron Pines, of the committee’s many partners, said stretches of the river in Arenac County will receive road crossing and stream bank work.

Leisen said two road crossings will be repaired.

“One is Fritz Creek on Fritz Road, and the other one is Townline Road and an unnamed tributary to the Rifle River,” he said.

Each site has culvert issues that close off access to habitat for fish, Leisen said.

“The culverts are both undersized and they are perched, so they are fish passage barriers,” he said.

According to Leisen, when a culvert becomes perched, it is above the stream, so fish cannot pass through it unless they are able to jump into the culvert and make ti to the other side, which is often not the case. Working with the Arenac County road Commission to replace the culverts will open up several miles of stream access for fish, Leisen said.

“Together those two sites will reconnect about 10 miles of upstream habitat,” he said.

A few miles upstream from Omer, at Stoddard’s Bend, Leisen said Huron Pines would be planting native trees and shrubs over approximately three acres.

“There’s a project to do a tree revetment, which is anchoring whole trees to the eroding slope to prevent erosion,” he said.

Leisen said Huron Pines would be working with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources at Stoddard’s Landing. He said last year the DNR set many large rocks at the site to build a barrier to limit ATV access.

“There’s been a lot of ATVs that go down and tear up the floodplain there,” he said.

In Arenac and Ogemaw counties, Leisen said watershed signage would be installed encouraging people to respect the Rifle River.

“We’re putting up some educational signage to get people to think about the Rifle River and to use it wisely,” he said.

Leisen said Huron Pines, the DNR and canoe liveries and campgrounds were working together to install the signage.

The minutes from the technical committee’s March 20 meeting said Todd Golebiewski, the owner of River View Campground and Canoe Livery, helped design the etiquette signs. About 15 signs would be placed at access sites on the river and watershed boundaries, according to the minutes.

Leisen said the projects would be done throughout the coming months.

“It’ll be kind of spread out throughout this summer,” he said.

For more information on the Rifle River projects, contact Huron Pines at 989-448-2293, or visit


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