You can take part in a unique tour and get a close view of ancient fish, the lake sturgeon.
Public tours of the Black River sturgeon hatchery will take place Friday, Aug. 30. The Black River streamside sturgeon rearing facility near Onaway will be open to public tours of the hatchery from 9 a.m. until noon.
During the tours, researchers from the DNR and MSU will be on hand to talk about lake sturgeon biology, reproductive ecology and the current year's research. Sturgeon for Tomorrow representatives will discuss restoration work to improve sturgeon spawning habitat, sturgeon conservation and outreach programming.
"On the tour visitors will see the three-month-old lake sturgeon currently in the hatchery, and learn about early life history and how we can all play a role to keep healthy populations of this fish in our waters," said David Borgeson, Northern Lake Huron Unit supervisor with the DNR.
The sturgeon fingerlings reared at the hatchery are scheduled to be released into the Black River on Aug. 30 after the tours are finished. Lake sturgeon reared at the facility will also be stocked into Burt and Mullett lakes later that day.
The lake sturgeon, a remnant of the dinosaur age, is considered a species of special concern by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a threatened species in North America by the American Fisheries Society, a globally rare species by the Nature Conservancy, and a threatened species in the State of Michigan.
The lake sturgeon population in Michigan is estimated to be about one percent of its former abundance. The Huron-Erie corridor was, at one time, one of the most productive waters for lake sturgeon in North America.
The streamside rearing facility is an important component of lake sturgeon rehabilitation efforts in the Cheboygan River watershed . These efforts involve the Black Lake Chapter of Sturgeon for Tomorrow, the Department of Natural Resources, Michigan State University and Tower-Kleber Limited Partnership.
The facility conducts research to determine growth and survival of lake sturgeon, thanks to DNR, federal, Great Lakes Fishery Trust and Sturgeon for Tomorrow funds. Results provide much-needed guidance for managers involved in lake sturgeon recovery efforts, while improving the effectiveness of lake sturgeon culture and stocking efforts.
Tours are free of charge. Group tours of 10 or more participants are asked to pre-register by calling 231-625-2776. Meeting arrangements will be made upon registration. The hatchery is located in Cheboygan County on the Upper Black River on Twin School Road, adjacent to the Kleber Dam.