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Managing Our Streams and Rivers

Michigan is graced with an abundance of cold, quality trout waters ‐ nearly a third of our magnificent freshwater rivers and streams have been classified as trout streams. The image of a solitary fly fishermen wading in the midst of one of Michigan’s wild, woodland trout streams has come to define who we are and what we have to offer to those who seek the peace and tranquility of a morning fishing in Northern Michigan. In this unique respect, Michigan remains one of the wealthiest states in the nation.


While 12,000 miles of Michigan’s 36,000 miles of rivers and streams have been officially designated as trout waters, 868 miles are considered premier top‐quality streams which Michigan classifies as its Blue Ribbon Trout Streams (BRTS). A Blue Ribbon Trout Stream must meet certain quality standards ‐ it must be one of Michigan’s best trout streams, supporting excellent stocks of wild resident trout, be blessed with the physical characteristics that permit fly casting but be shallow enough to wade while also sustaining diverse aquatic macro‐invertebrate insect life and possessing excellent overall water quality. Many of Michigan’s trout streams are prized as the highest quality freshwater bodies on earth.

Moreover, Michigan is graced with 625 miles of rivers that have been designated as “Wild and Scenic.” These rivers possess a diversity of remarkable features that have made them an important part of Michigan history and tradition. These valuable rivers and streams as well as their immediate riparian areas are protected by the State of Michigan so that they may be preserved for future generations.

Join Michigan Lake and Stream Associations and our collaborative partners in working to protect these magnificent freshwater resources for the future. Please take time to explore the information and resources we have provided on this page that are dedicated to encouraging and supporting the preservation of our world class rivers and streams….and then get involved!

Downloadable Documents
MDNR – Riparian Zone Management and Trout Streams
MDNR SR15-A Fisheries Management Guide to Stream Protection and Restoration
MDNR RR2085 – A Landscape Based Ecological Classification for River Valley Segments
Superior Watershed Partnership – A Model Riparian Buffer Implementation Plan
Coldwater Fish and Fisheries

Information and Management Resources
American Rivers ‐ Michigan
Au Sable Big Water Preservation Association
Huron Pines RC&D
Lake Superior Streams
MDNR Natural Rivers Program
MDNR State Map of Natural Rivers
Michigan’ Blue Ribbon Trout Streams
Michigan Chapter of Trout Unlimited
MiCorps Volunteer Stream Monitoring Grant Program
Paul H. Young Chapter of Trout Unlimited
Public Rights on Michigan’s Waters
Trout Unlimited
USDA Forest Service Stream Systems Technology Center
USGS National Water Information System