The Department of Natural Resources, in partnership with the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, announced a proposed initiative in June 2016 that aims to bring back an extirpated species to the state – Arctic grayling.  The Michigan Arctic Grayling Initiative seeks to establish self-sustaining populations of this species throughout its historical range in Michigan. The initiative has more than 45 partners collaborating on the reintroduction.

The next steps include identifying interest and abilities of partners, collecting baseline data, initiating the building of broodstock and stocking efforts. The Manistee River watershed, once known as a premier grayling river, will be the first location for reintroduction.

The DNR will work closely with partners as the proposed Michigan Arctic Grayling Initiative moves forward. The Little River Band, located in Manistee County, has been engaged in extensive research for potential grayling reintroduction for several years.

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10 Frequently Asked Questions
In the past, Michigan tried to restore Arctic Grayling, so what's different this time? You've got questions. We're bringing you answers from the experts. Here are 10 frequently asked questions.
About how big is a common adult Arctic Grayling, and what water temperatures do they require?
Adult Arctic Grayling commonly grow up to 16 inches in length. Like other trout species in Michigan, Grayling thrive in coldwater temperatures that range from 45 to 65 °F. If water temperatures exceed 68 °F, they can become stressed.
When can I expect to see Arctic Grayling in Michigan streams?
Partners of the Initiative plan to source eggs from Alaska in 2019, but developing a healthy stock of eggs that are suitable for Michigan's waters will take approximately three years. 
Tentatively, eggs will be placed in in-stream Remote Site Incubators beginning in 2022. From then it will take three to four years before Grayling reach reproductive maturity. 
Can Arctic Grayling live in streams with other trout species like brown, rainbow and brook?
Yes, Arctic Grayling coexist with other trout species in places such as Alaska, Montana and Canada. 
Will other fish species in streams or hatcheries be sacrificed or diminished in any way because of Arctic Grayling reintroduction?
Predation by and competition with non-native trout species are cited as factors that contributed to the decline of Grayling in Michigan in the late 1800s. Populations of non-native trout represent a significant possible impediment for Grayling reintroduction success today. However, existing trout species in streams will not be intentionally eradicated because of Arctic Grayling reintroduction. 
Today, biologists in Montana believe interactions with brown trout are a key factor limiting reintroduction success in that state. Generally they have avoided reintroducing Grayling to streams with established populations of brown trout. Michigan biologists are working to understand relationships between resident trout and Grayling in order to select streams where reintroduction success will be most favorable. This is a priority of the initiative's research team and studies are currently underway. 
How are rivers nominated for Arctic Grayling reintroduction and which rivers have already been nominated?
Rivers are currently being nominated, and we are collaborating with partners for stream recommendations. The research team is strategically looking at nominations and taking into consideration habitat, local support, as well as private and public relations. So far, the Manistee River has been nominated and a habitat evaluation study has been completed thanks to a grant from the Consumers Energy Foundation. 
 
Is the plan to reintroduce Arctic Grayling to its entire historical range or just select streams? 
While the Arctic Grayling historically inhabited more than 20 rivers in northern Michigan, currently we are able to focus on reintroduction efforts in just a few select streams. 
 
Where will eggs be sourced from to develop Michigan's Arctic Grayling broodstock?
To develop Michigan's Arctic Grayling broodstock, eggs will be sourced from wild populations that inhabit the Chena River in Alaska. We are particularly excited about sourcing eggs from the Chena because it is home to a genetically diverse population that is adapted to a wide range of environmental variables. The founding stock in the Chena River is wild and has not been influenced by hatcheries. 
Michigan's Arctic Grayling broodstock will be developed in Emmet County at Oden State Fish Hatchery, thanks in part to a grant from the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation, the Department of Natural Resources, the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, Wenger Foundation and private donations. 
Is creating a fishable population a goal of the Initiative?
Partners have not yet defined specific goals for creating fishable populations or fishing regulations. Measurable goals that have been stated as priorities in the 5-year Arctic Grayling Action Plan include the following: 
1. Coordinate and facilitate evaluation of in-stream Remote Site Incubators to rear Arctic Grayling.
2. Coordinate and facilitate prioritization of streams for reintroduction.
3. Identify and develop approaches to address key knowledge gaps. 
4. Seek funding and work with partners to address knowledge gaps.
5. Evaluate key habitat criteria for Arctic Grayling.
6. Assess suitable habitat for Arctic Grayling in the Upper Manistee River and other highly suitable watersheds.
7. Assess fish populations and densities in the Upper Manistee River.
8. Establish population goals and limiting factors.
9. Change state statute to legalize fishing for Grayling.
10. Implement regulation changes to aid in Arctic Grayling reintroduction and to manage future fishing opportunities for Arctic Grayling.
11. Determine final disposition of surplus broodstock as necessary.
12. Experiment with Remote Site Incubator design.
13. Produce eggs for Remote Site Incubators that meet management and research needs.
14. Ensure that fish health standards are upheld.
15. Identify what resources among partners will help to develop captive broodstock.
16. Maintain a genetically diverse broodstock of 800 adults to spawn per year class per facility.
17. Promote an informed, supportive and engaged public.
18. Develop information to reach diverse audiences including private landowners that may have direct ties to waterways integral to reintroduction.
19. Identify collaborative partners and their roles.
20. Create a stewardship plan that engages the public by action or support for the protection of this species.
Is climate change a concern?
Climate change is a general concern for all fisheries work, and climate change is currently being measured and evaluated. Biologists are working to understand how species are being impacted by climate change. One advantage of northern Michigan streams is that they are groundwater fed meaning that there is general stability in flow and cold water temperatures.  
Is Fisheries Division adding staff resources to support this initiative and how will the program sustain itself beyond the 5-year Arctic Grayling Action Plan?
Fisheries Division is not adding staff resources to support this initiative. The Michigan Arctic Grayling Initiative depends on support from partners, foundations, corporations, and private donations. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, as well as the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, have each pledged $25,000 to support a critical component of broodstock development that requires ultraviolet water disinfection technology. This key piece of equipment will ensure optimal water quality during broodstock development. As far as long-term sustainability, the goal is for Arctic Grayling production and management to gradually become part of general programming for the Michigan DNR's Fisheries Division.