Arctic grayling reintroduction gets critical support from Oleson Foundation

Michigan's historic effort to reintroduce Arctic Grayling to the state’s waters will be supported by a $5,000 grant from the Oleson Foundation to the Department of Natural Resources, Fisheries Division.

To develop Michigan’s broodstock, the DNR plans to source wild Arctic Grayling eggs from Alaska, but first a vital piece of equipment is needed at Oden State Fish Hatchery in Emmet County where the broodstock will be developed. Support from the Oleson Foundation will help the DNR acquire this urgently needed piece of equipment which ensures no invasive disease or virus is inadvertently introduced to Michigan’s waters.

“The Oleson Foundation’s Board of Directors is pleased to support this incredible project,” said Kathy Huschke, Executive Director of the Oleson Foundation. “It’s an amazing opportunity to recapture what was lost from Northern Michigan’s environment more than 80 years ago due to overfishing and clear cutting of our forests. This is truly a legacy project for all of Michigan.”

The DNR's Fisheries Division and the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians lead Michigan’s Arctic Grayling Initiative. More than 45 partners -- including State and Tribal governments, non-profits, businesses and universities -- support reintroducing Arctic Grayling to its historical range.

Fisheries Division Chief Jim Dexter said the cost to reintroduce Arctic Grayling is expected at around $1.1 million with virtually all of this being supplied through private and foundation support. To date, nearly $425,000 has been raised for Michigan’s Arctic Grayling Initiative.

"A diverse group of partners has invested themselves toward attaining a shared goal, and that says something about the nature of this project," said Dexter. "This project serves as a template for future efforts that include a variety of stakeholders."

Other contributions from foundations include support from the Consumers Energy Foundation, Henry E. and Consuelo S. Wenger Foundation, Rotary Charities of Traverse City and the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation. Plans are underway to recognize donors at Oden State Fish Hatchery.

"We encourage everyone to get involved so we can bring back this native fish," said Huschke.

The Oleson Foundation is a family foundation founded in Traverse City, Michigan in 1962 to "help people help themselves". The Foundation makes grants to non-profit organizations in northwestern Michigan in all areas of grantmaking. They are very supportive of environmental work to preserve and steward the beautiful landscape that makes our area spectacular and unique.

For more information about Michigan's Arctic Grayling Initiative and answers to frequently asked questions, visit

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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 50 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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