By CELESTE BOTT
Capital News Service
LANSING – Removing sand from the Salmon Trout River in Marquette County has helped protect the spawning sites of coaster brook trout, according to researchers. A sand collector was installed upstream last spring to intercept sediment before it reached the endangered trout’s spawning habitat, according to a report from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Marquette Fisheries Research Station. The machine pumps sand out of the river, preventing it from covering stream-bottom rocks where the majority of coasters spawn. The Salmon Trout River is the last Lake Superior tributary with a natural breeding population of the species, said Casey Huckins, the project leader and professor of biological sciences at Michigan Technological University. “They were once common throughout Lake Superior basin tributaries and nearshore waters, but the populations were wiped out due to over-fishing and habitat degradation,” Huckins said on the project’s fundraising website.