Restoring Aquatic Ecosystems shines a light on Michigan’s first indigenous-led, multi-agency collaborative created to restore and protect the ecology of streams and rivers across an entire region. Led by the Grand Traverse Band (GTB) of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, the Tribal Stream and Michigan Fruitbelt Collaborative includes over a dozen nonprofit organizations and governmental agencies working together to remove blockages to the natural flow of water in Michigan’s streams and rivers – often called ”the arteries of mother earth.”
Working in relative obscurity, this little-known Collaborative has already received over $18 million in federal grants from the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and more than $30 million in local matching funds. The work completed so far has included the replacement of undersized culverts with timber bridges, the removal of old and failing dams, and the purchase of conservation easements to prevent urban development on farmland – particularly fruit farms.
Restoring Aquatic Ecosystems was filmed in over a dozen locations across Northwest Lower Michigan in the rivers, along the streams, and with drones from the air. Viewers will see the detrimental impacts of undersized culverts and old dams on stream flow as well as improvements made by restoration projects completed in locations from in the Carp Lake River and Maple River in the north to the Boardman, Platte, Betsie, and Manistee Rivers to the south.
The film includes conversations with 15 different biologists, ecologists, engineers, and government leaders about the Collaborative’s approach and the challenges we still face to restore and preserve aquatic ecosystems for insects, fish, and wildlife.