Conservation activities are diverse and range from woody debris management, invasive species removal, hazardous waste collection, brownfield redevelopment, agricultural best management practices, green infrastructure planning and implementation, natural lands conservation, dam removal, habitat restoration, and volunteer river-cleanups.

River Cleanups are organized to rally volunteers to care for the river by

  • Friends of the Shiawassee River
  • Headwaters Trails
  • Keepers of the Shiawassee
  • Chesaning Area

Woody Debris Management

Needed from Holly to Byron, Headwaters Trails offers guidance on their website. The following groups lead volunteer efforts along the water trail.

  • Headwaters Trails,
  • Keepers of the Shiawassee,
  • Volunteers organized by the Byron DDA and
  • Cheff’s Canoe Rental.

Condemned Dams

Much effort has been focused on removal of condemned dams and related habitat restoration by Friends of the Shiawassee River, who have successfully restored connectivity for fish and wildlife migration, and water cooling benefit. The Shia-Town dam has been removed, and the Corunna dam is slated to be removed in 2018. The Village of Chesaning completed a dam removal and restoration project at Cole Park, where a river rapids dam with eight weir structures was placed in 2009. There are no plans or intentions to remove dams in good working condition or those that create recreational opportunities in Holly, Fenton, Linden, and Byron.

Watershed Management

The Shiawassee Conservation District completed the Mid-Shiawassee River watershed management plan, and is working with agricultural producers to reduce soil loss and sedimentation through implementation of agricultural best management practices such as cover crops and vegetated stream buffers. The District organizes an annual tree and native plant sale, and hosts workshops on habitat restoration. The Nature Conservancy identified the Shiawassee River as a priority area for watershed restoration, and promotes the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, which enrolls qualified fields into farm bill programs that improve water quality. The Village of Chesaning has permanently preserved farmland along the flats of Sharon Road through the Conservation Reserve program. 

Private Land Conservation

Private land conservation efforts are spearheaded by four local land conservancies: North Oakland Headwaters Land Conservancy, Six Rivers Land Conservancy, DeVries Nature Conservancy (invasive species removal), and the Saginaw Basin Land Conservancy. The Saginaw Bay Watershed Initiative Network, a funding collaborative housed with the Conservation Fund and based in Bay City, Michigan, is a core partner that has supported the majority of conservation projects in the Shiawassee River watershed including green infrastructure planning, habitat restoration, and dam removal among others.

Green Infrastructure

Green infrastructure planning efforts, supported by the NPS-RTCA program include the GLS Greenlinks covering Genesee, and Shiawassee counties, and the Saginaw Bay Greenways Plan covering Saginaw County, outline priority conservation areas for long-term protection.  Native habitat restoration is being supported by public/private partnerships that include: Memorial Healthcare in Owosso recently completed a native plantings area along the river on its property.  Owosso’s Voight family foundation recently funded a $10,000 native tree and shrub planting project on the riverbanks in downtown Owosso.  The Owosso Rotary club planted 100 native trees and shrubs in the floodplain and along the shoreline at Owosso’s Harmon Patridge Park.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources manages the Shiawassee State Game Area for wildlife, and conducts habitat restoration. The US Fish and Wildlife Service provides these same services at the Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge, located directly downstream of Chesaning.

Brownfield Redevelopment

Brownfield redevelopment is active in the City of Owosso to remove underground storage tanks and lead contaminated soils along a half-mile stretch of the river at an active railroad facility. The site now features an exercise trail loop in downtown Owosso. The City has also restored floodplain by removing 28 frequently flooded homes and a rain garden to filter stormwater from a new downtown parking area that also offers flood storage.  This project earned Owosso a first place award at a National Floodplain Managers Association annual meeting.

Household Hazardous Waste Collection

Oakland, Genesee, Shiawassee, and Saginaw counties respective health departments coordinate annual household hazardous waste collection days to remove untreatable hazardous wastes and prescription drugs from entering into the Shiawassee River at wastewater treatment system outflows and other surface and groundwater entry points to the River.