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Grant to make Paint Creek homier for fish



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October 27, 2010 - There's a saying about fishing: "The Fishing was great, it was the catching that was bad."

Except in Paint Creek in downtown Lake Orion, where local resident and fishing enthusiast Jeff Aisthorpe says the fishing isn't good either; there's hardly any fish at all.

"I fish the creek, but its best fished downstream of LO. Sadly the way the water is managed at the dam, the lawn pumps for sprinklers, and the general lack of understanding prevents what could be a great fishery from thriving," said Lake Orion resident and fishing enthusiast Jeff Aisthorpe. "Less than one tenth of percent of streams that hold trout are located in southeastern Michigan. We have one right here in town, but the way it is neglected we won't for long."

But the village is trying to change what's now a poor habitat for fish, as well as improve the Paint Creek's bank. Netting a $70,000 grant from the Great Lakes Basin Fish Habitat Partnership Program, in addition to an in-kind village contribution of just under $8,000, would pay for restoring the stream to better suit native fish species.

Work on Paint Creek will be focused at Meek's Park and Children's Park in the village and will include stream bank plantings, reconstructed natural riffle grades, pool improvements and fish cover structures.

"I think it's great that we go out for this grant," said Councilmember John Ranville. "The last work that was done in these areas was a shamble."

He added, "We've lost a lot of shoreline, especially in Meek's Park. That's why it's so shallow. Fish won't stay there because the water is too warm."

Councilmember Mike Toth said one of the concerns about the work is that it will limit the number of access points to the river, like the new plantings will look less groomed but will deter visitors from scrambling down the bank as well as offer stabilizing root systems.

"It's also a concern for me because I take my boys down all the time to play, but we discussed it and I don't think it will be a problem," Toth said, indicating that plans include several access points to the water.

"I think people will still be able to get to the river and play in it as much as they always did," he said.

He said past efforts to manage the fish habitats and river banks weren't from an ecological standpoint, but from an engineering standpoint and weren't as effective as they will be this time around.

At the village council's Oct. 11 regular meeting, it approved spending any application costs, not to exceed $1,400, for the grant.

Reporter, Lake Orion Review
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