Historical/Environmental Consultants

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Project Title: "Historical Study of Fish and Fisheries in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore."

(92 pp. report prepared the National Park Service, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.)

Summary: The Pictured Rocks of Michiganís Upper Peninsula (UP) have long been a highly regarded feature of Lake Superiorís south shore. In addition to the natural beauty of the rock cliffs, the area was also rich in natural resources, including timber and fish--especially brook trout. Toward the latter part of the nineteenth century, loggers moved into the region and started harvesting trees, while sportsmen began gathering fish. Soon, through both overfishing and the changes to the natural environment wrought by logging, many of the areaís indigenous fish species were either depleted or rendered extinct.

The Michigan Fish Commission (a Department of Natural Resources predecessor agency) attempted to reestablish and maintain the areaís fish population by planting native species raised in its growing hatchery system, as well as by introducing new strains of fish that were un-known to the region, but that were thought to have the potential to adapt to the waters of the UP. Included among the fish brought to the region were brown trout and rainbow trout.

Despite the fact that small-scale logging in the Pictured Rocks area continued into the 1920s, the State of Michigan has been planting fish in the region throughout the twentieth century--just as sportsmen have been returning every year to catch them. The result of this activity is a compromised fish habitat and a population that consists of both native and non-native species.

Given the constantly evolving character of the landscape and environment, it is not practical to believe that the natural fisheries can be recreated. Nevertheless, with an understanding of historical conditions in the context of environmental conditions today, an effective fish management plan can be developed.

Fish caught along the Pictured Rocks in 1912.

Project Date: 1997-1999