Prepared for
The Partnership for the Saginaw Bay Watershed

Purpose of the Plan

This restoration plan summarizes years of work that have contributed to the imminent restoration of two beneficial use impairments (BUIs) in the Saginaw Bay and River Area of Concern (AOC). These BUIs relate to physical habitat degradation and related population reductions of key fish and wildlife species.

This plan also discusses and updates restoration targets that were initially set by the Partnership for the Saginaw Bay Watershed in 2000. The restoration targets set in 2000 include indicators for coastal wetlands and marshes and for key fish and wildlife species. Analysis of data related to the targets and previously completed restoration work indicate that substantial progress has been made in preserving and protecting remaining coastal wetlands and positively impacting dependent fish and wildlife species. Nevertheless, this project has resulted in the conclusion that only the coastal wetlands and marshes target remains an appropriate target for gauging AOC restoration.

Fish and wildlife species-specific targets are no longer a suitable proxy for AOC restoration due to the impact of invasive species and food web disruptions that have negatively affected the target species and are occurring throughout the Lake Huron system. Thus, while the species-specific targets will remain important indicators of ecosystem health, they are not assessed here for AOC delisting purposes.

The fish and wildlife targets that are not used for delisting purposes and other key priorities that should be addressed to continue restoration and preservation of the Saginaw River and Bay watershed beyond delisting are included in the Appendix to this report.

The report also includes a work plan that details activities that must be completed before formal delisting of these BUIs can commence. The work plan includes specific projects and general recommendations for completing the work.

While reading this document it is important to consider that the restoration targets discussed are the minimum needed to remove the impaired status of the beneficial use. In order to ensure that the AOC does not backslide to “impaired status,” continued efforts to improve fish and wildlife habitat are essential. Such efforts include continuing to acquire and restore wetlands, create fish passage at dams, and address land use–related impacts on the watershed. Ongoing, long-term monitoring of the quantity and quality of protected wetlands will be extremely important to ensure the success of restoration and protection efforts.

A copy of the full report is available below.