More than $1.5 million in grant funding is available for fisheries habitat conservation, dam removal, and more

Pre-proposals for the project are due October 20

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is providing more than $1.5 million to fund a variety of activities associated with improving the state’s fisheries and aquatic resources, including fish habitat conservation, dam removal and repair, resource assessment studies and public access to recreation opportunities.

Distributed across three themes—aquatic habitat conservation, dam management, and aquatic habitat and recreation in the Au Sable, Manistee, and Muskegon River watersheds—Fisheries Habitat Grant funding is available through an open and competitive process to local, state, federal, and tribal governments and nonprofit groups. .

“Recreation and local economies throughout Michigan depend on healthy rivers, lakes and wetlands to support fishing, boating and other enjoyment of our natural resources,” said Joe Neuner, resource analyst with the DNR’s Fisheries Division. “These grants help our partners protect and rehabilitate fisheries and aquatic ecosystems in a state that relies heavily on those resources. In cases where we remove, repair or renovate dams, we can also improve public safety for residents and visitors.”

Examples of proposed projects that address the causes of habitat degradation include efforts to:

  • Improve management of riparian land (land located near or on water).
  • Restore natural lake levels.
  • Improving or creating a passage for aquatic organisms by removing drains, dams, and other barriers.
  • Improving water quality.
  • Implement watershed-based approaches to improve water quality and quantity.
  • Develop projects that demonstrate habitat conservation.
  • Restore streaming functionality.
  • Add structural habitat, such as woody habitat or aquatic plants.
  • Conduct assessments that will guide conservation projects.
  • Complete other projects that meet program objectives.

Grant and Application Guidelines

Grant applicants can apply for and receive funding from all three themes with a single application, if eligible for each. The expected funding is derived from three sources:

  • $989,000 from the state Game and Fish Conservation Fund to support aquatic habitat conservation.
  • $350,000 from the state general fund to support dam management.
  • At least $225,000 from the hydropower license and settlement agreement between Consumers Energy and several entities, including the DNR, to support aquatic habitat and recreation in the Au Sable, Manistee and Muskegon River watersheds.

Applicants have the option of requesting funding from the current funding cycle or a conditional commitment to fund a future year. Conditional commitments for highly competitive projects allow recipients to leverage DNR contributions to partner applications for additional funding sources on larger projects or secure a fisheries habitat grant funding commitment based on other conditions. The funding available in this announcement does not include $150,000 in existing conditional commitments that the DNR has made to partners from this year’s grant funding.

Grant amounts start at a minimum of $25,000 and can be as large as the total amount of funding available in all thematic areas for which the project is eligible. If necessary, small projects within the same region that address similar issues can be pooled into a single grant proposal package to reach the minimum grant amount.

Priority projects

The DNR identifies priority projects identified through its list of priority fisheries habitat conservation projects that may receive preference during review of proposals. Applications for projects on this list will still need to be competitive in other aspects, such as cost, appropriate methods and design, and the experience of applicants, so grants are not expected to exclusively fund projects on this list.

In previous grant cycles, approximately 40% of all funded projects were priority fisheries habitat conservation projects. All applicants must first discuss their projects with a local DNR fisheries biologist, then complete and submit a short advance proposal for DNR review. Advance proposals must be:

Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their pre-proposal by November 29 and, if selected, will be invited to submit a full application. An invitation to submit a complete application does not guarantee funding for the project.

Final funding announcements are expected to be made by May 2024. A detailed program guide, including the timeline and advance proposal guidelines and forms, is available at

Note to editors: Accompanying images are available below for download. Below is the caption information.

  • Lake Au Train: More than 90 timber habitat structures will be installed at Lake Au Train (Alger County, Michigan) to benefit fish, waterfowl, amphibians and other aquatic life. (Photo courtesy of Matt Watkes/Algeria Protection Zone)
  • Bald Mountain Dam: A Fisheries Habitat Grant funded the removal of Bald Mountain Dam to enable fish passage into a tributary of Paint Creek, a popular trout river in Oakland County, Michigan. (Photo courtesy of Michigan DNR)

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