GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A $5 million grant will be used to open up rivers and streams to more fish and other aquatic species across 14 Michigan counties.

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation announced Thursday that the grant will be awarded to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and its local partners, including the Muskegon River Watershed Assembly. The money is expected to cover projects to tackle 27 different stream barriers.

Part of that $5 million grant will go to the MRWA to remove two dams in Mecosta County: The Buckhorn Creek Dam on the Muskegon River and the Altona Dam on the Little Muskegon River. Marty Holtgren, the principal watershed scientist for the MRWA, said removing the dams will provide more space and spawning habitat for several fish species.

“Both dam removals will open up miles of river that will provide access for many aquatic species including brook trout,” Holtgren said in a release. “The brook trout will benefit by the newly available spawning habitat and cold-water refuge areas.”

The NFWF estimates the projects will “reconnect nearly 200 upstream miles of rivers and streams.”

MRWA Executive Director Scott Faulkner is excited for the new projects to get underway and credits the positive partnerships across Michigan with getting the work done.

“The federal funding of these high-impact watershed projects is a direct reflection of the strength of our relationships with our tribal partners at the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, as well as the DNR and other state agencies here in Michigan,” Faulkner stated. “We are very excited to see multiple restoration projects coming on line in 2023 to benefit this incredible watershed for generations to come.”