DNR and Tower Kleber Limited Partnership Announce Groundbreaking for Black River Streamside Lake Sturgeon Rearing Facility
Department of Natural Resources fisheries officials today announced a northern Michigan hydropower producer will build a streamside sturgeon rearing facility on the Black River as part of ongoing efforts to enhance the Black Lake sturgeon fishery.
A groundbreaking to begin construction of the facility will be held July 2 at 1 p.m. at Kleber Dam, which is operated by Tower Kleber Limited Partnership. The dam is located at the Twin School Road crossing of the Black River, approximately three miles northeast of Tower, in Cheboygan County.
Construction of the rearing facility was one of the essential elements included in a negotiated agreement between the DNR and Tower Kleber as part of the dam’s operating license. The company agreed to help enhance sturgeon populations after a 1997 DNR survey showed sturgeon numbers had declined significantly from previous levels.
Sturgeon rehabilitation efforts have attracted a number of partners, including Sturgeon for Tomorrow (SFT), a nonprofit group dedicated to the future of lake sturgeon. Members of SFT’s Black Lake Chapter have volunteered thousands of hours to “Sturgeon Watch,” an effort to protect vulnerable adult sturgeon during the spawning run, and have contributed thousands of dollars for habitat protection and sturgeon research efforts.
“We’re just ecstatic about this new rearing facility,” said Brenda Archambo, SFT president. “It will allow us to continue our efforts to restore the sturgeon population, as well as offer a great opportunity for public outreach and education.”
More than $1 million from state and federal sources has been spent on research during the last eight years to improve understanding of the Black Lake sturgeon population. Researchers from Michigan State University and the DNR studied sturgeon ecology, recruitment and mortality.
Successful operation of an experimental temporary streamside rearing station led to the establishment of other such facilities throughout Michigan, which has resulted in more than 17,000 juvenile lake sturgeon being stocked into the Cheboygan River watershed, and the construction of this permanent facility on the Black River.
“When this facility begins operations next fall, it will enable the DNR and our partners to continue the rehabilitation and research efforts for the Black Lake sturgeon population,” said DNR Fisheries Biologist Dave Borgeson. “With the high level of commitment we’re seeing from all the partners, we believe the future will be much brighter for Black Lake sturgeon.”