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October 3, 2012

Federal grant to help restore Paint Creek in Rochester

By Mary Beth Almond
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
This section of the Paint Creek has been identified as having a high potential for improvement through a grant. The pictures show the remnants of an old dam, including concrete and large boulders, which represent an impediment for fish passage and have a general negative impact on the health of the Paint Creek, and further down, in the Clinton River.

ROCHESTER — The Paint Creek, which runs through the city of Rochester, is the last natural cold water trout-reproducing stream in Southeast Michigan.

That’s why city, state and federal officials agree it’s necessary to try to protect such an important natural resource.

“Our lifeblood of our community is this creek, and we owe it to the citizens of the community and the stakeholders to care for this as much as we possibly can,” Council member Ben Giovanelli said.

Next May, the city of Rochester plans to begin restoring 3,500 feet of the Paint Creek — from Dinosaur Hill to the Paint Creek Bridge on Main Street — with a $750,000 federal grant funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

“The primary goal is to improve the habitat for aquatic resources, specifically the trout. The fish movement along the Paint Creek is one of the main goals of this project. Also, there is stream stabilization and erosion control, soft shoring and vegetation, and floodplain connectivity,” City Manager Jaymes Vettranio said. “This project was ranked very, very high because of the opportunity to make these improvements and the impact it will have later down the Clinton River, which is an area of concern for the federal government. (They want to) improve the Clinton River, and as the primary tributary, this project ranked high.”

Another reason the city was able to secure the grant, the second highest amount handed out in the grant program, was because it was matched locally with the $750,000 the Downtown Development Authority already doled out for the Paint Creek Bridge Improvement Project. Constructed during the last 18 months, the Paint Creek Bridge Improvement Project included new stairs on the east side of the bridge, planters affixed to bridge railings, a small waterfall underneath the bridge, benches in a scenic lookout on the northeast side of the bridge, a decorative metal railing and an entrance to Municipal Park.

“The $750,000 local match was met by the DDA’s Paint Creek bridge enhancement and improvement program, so we’ve leveraged an additional $750,000 beyond what the result of the investment in the particular place was,” said Mayor Pro Tem Jeffrey Cuthbertson. “That’s wonderful news and obviously something I don’t think anyone had in mind when the investment in that area was made.”

Over the last couple of years, Vettraino said, the city has been active in creek restoration.

“It’s primarily been done in an ancillary part to other projects we’ve done along the Paint Creek. Some of those primary projects were done for other reasons, but as part of them, while we were in the stream, we worked very closely with our engineers and the Department of Natural Resources to make sure that each project also contributed a little bit to stream restoration,” he said.

While there’s probably more work to be done than what the $750,000 grant will cover, Vettraino said every little bit helps.

“We will begin the work and identify the highest priorities to improve the aquatic life there,” he said. “We have to make sure all the spawning seasons are appropriate, so it would be a May 2013 project, with completion one year later, and then project closeout projected for August 2014,” he said.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Mary Beth Almond at malmond@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1060.