Grand Rapids Whitewater River Restoration

2013 - Present

River Restoration is assisting Grand Rapids Whitewater with permitting and design of a river restoration project on the Grand River in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The project involves removal of 5 low head dams to create whitewater rafting opportunities, and variable flow and substrate characteristics for fish and mussel species. The Grand River supports a diversity of freshwater unionid mussels, including the federal endangered snuffbox (Epioblasma triquetra). EcoAnalysts was contracted to determine the distribution, species composition, and abundance of unionids in the project area. A combination of semi-quantitative, quantitative, and qualitative methods was used to meet this objective. Fieldwork was conducted in September 2013. Unionids and E. triquetra were most abundant in the reach upstream of the low head dams. Only a few scattered unionid mussels were collected between the dams due to the high current velocity and compact substrate, although a few E. triquetra were found. Downstream of the lowhead dams, substrate was primarily loose sand, which is also not the best unionid habitat.

EcoAnalysts is assisting Grand Rapids Whitewater with agency consultation and mitigation design. A hydrophysical mussel habitat model was developed to facilitate assessment of project effects on freshwater mussels. Baseline monitoring of unionid communities within a reference site and the Project Area was conducted in 2016 and 2017. A Biological Assessment is currently being prepared to estimate the effects of the project on E. triquetra and Michigan endangered and threatened mussel and fish species.