Floyd Samuel Eberts was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in New York state, served his country during World War II, survived as a prisoner of war, got his bachelors degree from Penn State and doctorate from Wisconsin, raised a family, was a Research Scientist for Pre-Clinical Development in Drug Metabolism as a Bio-Analytical Chemist for Upjohn Corporation, was a member of the old Scientific Anglers Club within Upjohn, was a long-time member and treasurer for Kalamazoo Valley Chapter Trout Unlimited (KVCTU), and got interested in flyfishing, hunting and the shooting sports long before he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in 2005 that eventually led to his death from the disease in March of 2007. In spite of all his accomplishments, Floyd was the most unpretentious person you could ever meet. The previous statement is a mouthful and in no way summarizes Floyd’s life with any justice.
Upon his death, Floyd left KVCTU a donation of $10,000 for use at the chapter’s discretion. Greg Potter, KVCTU President at that time, asked Floyd’s fishing friend what the chapter should do with the donation. After some thought, the idea emerged to do something that would help one of the rivers that Floyd loved to fish — the Upper Manistee River — specifically, the Deward Area. After learning much about sand and sand traps (in rivers, not golf courses), an opportunity for habitat improvement (HI) structures was presented by DNR Fisheries Biologist, Mark Tonello. After discussion among KVCTU Board members, a motion was made and unanimously approved to support habitat improvement in the Deward Area of the Upper Manistee River. Thus, the Deward Habitat Improvement Project was hatched.
On May 11, 2009, a group of people representing DNR Fisheries, the Deward Area Land Manager, Upper Manistee River Restoration Committee, Kalkaska Conservation District, Natural Rivers, and others, gathered at sites A-30L and A-28-L of the Upper Manistee River, with the purpose “To site and characterize proposed installation of durable low-maintenance instream habitat-improvement (cover-stabilization) structures”. Ten sites were identified for improvement. These ten structures were installed from this first Eastern access North of Cameron Bridge Road up to the “East Steps”. Mark Tonello applied for and attained a grant that extended this project into the summer of 2010. Ten more structures were installed upstream of the East Steps access as a result.
So, if you have fished downstream or upstream of the East Steps, you have encountered many of the structures that Floyd has made possible — and hopefully a few fish too! The bench you have seen or sat upon was able to be purchased and installed as a result of the earnings that Floyd’s donation made while this project was being considered. Hopefully we’ve made improvements that appear seamless and are harmonious with their surroundings.
I hope these structures and bench last for many, many years and provide a place where trout thrive and a place to sit and reflect — on the fish we catch and on the work made possible by my friend, Floyd Samuel Eberts.