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The Face of the Fish: Au Sable’s Lindsay Barden Chosen to Create Logo for Grayling Reintroduction

Jun 16, 2017

Today in the beautiful streams of northern Michigan, anglers fish for species like brook trout, brown trout, and rainbow trout in the cold, clear waters of Blue Ribbon Trout Streams like the Manistee and Au Sable Rivers. But none of these species, for all their attributes, were originally native to these particular drainages. Michigan’s true native member of the trout family was the Arctic Grayling, a striking gray-blue fish with a large, uniquely sail-shaped dorsal fin. Extirpated by stream degradation and habitat loss that came with Michigan’s logging era, the Grayling disappeared from the Lower Peninsula by the early twentieth century, persisting longest in the Manistee River, where the last Grayling was caught in 1906.

Today the Institute is playing an important part in the research effort to bring back the Grayling, working with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, and Michigan Technological University (Michigan Tech) to first determine the best sites for in-stream incubation of grayling eggs and fry that will become the foundation of well-adapted populations in the state (http://ausable.org/news_and_resources/news/meet_au_sables_2017_grayling_research_team#.WUAh0aK1sdU). But the Grayling’s restoration depends not only on good science, but on good science education, and on effective public relations to tell the Grayling’s story, then and now, to the public at large. As a member of the Education and Outreach Working Group of the Michigan Arctic Grayling Initiative, Au Sable’s Scientific Technician, Lindsay Barden, has been playing an important role in this educational effort. Most recently, Lindsay, an expert in electronic communication and illustration, was selected by the Group to design the official website icon for the Michigan Arctic Grayling Initiative.

Her logo (pictured) features a simple but elegant line drawing of the Grayling, with the body curved upward to indicate life and movement. The color in the otherwise black and white image is strategically and accurately placed in the Grayling’s iconic dorsal fin, which, in a living fish, reflects a rainbow of colors contrasting with the blue-gray body of the fish.  Articulating how she developed the logo to communicate the work of the Grayling Initiative, Lindsay said “My aim was to create a simplistic design that would put an emphasis on the grayling’s colorful dorsal fin; the species’ clearest identifier. My hope is that this design will be a visual representation of the grayling that resonates with the public and leads to an increased familiarity with this species. It is a great honor to have my design chosen to be the official logo for the Michigan Arctic Grayling Initiative and I look forward to continuing to be a part of the important work of returning the grayling to Michigan’s waters.”

A great logo is vital to the success of the Grayling Initiative in connecting the public to this important work in conservation. As Suzanne Stone, Program Support Section Manager for the DNR, who has been leading the Initiatives work in education and outreach, said, “Ms. Barden’s artwork was selected to represent the Michigan Arctic Grayling Initiative by the initiative’s two foundational partners, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians. We felt its beauty and fluid motion not only symbolized the species, but would equally represent all of the partners whose collective efforts are essential for the Arctic Grayling’s successful reintroduction to Michigan.” Dr. Cameron Goble, Principal Investigator in a current study evaluating the habitat suitability of possible sites for Grayling reintroduction added, “A huge part of the Michigan Arctic Grayling Initiative involves engaging the public in the potential return of this iconic species to the waters of the State. The most successful environmental conservation and restoration projects tend to be those that have the greatest amounts of buy-in and excitement. The artwork that Lindsay created for the Initiative provides a beautiful representation of the species and the project not only for the researchers and agencies involved but more importantly, for all people of Michigan!”

At Au Sable, Executive Director Dr. Fred Van Dyke explained the significance of Lindsay’s work and its selection to represent the Grayling Initiative.  “Today the average child under ten can’t identify five species of fish, but can correctly identify hundreds of corporate logos. A good logo is critical to connecting people who come to the Grayling site with a visual image that will remind them, time and again, of the work of this important restoration effort.  And that will help them identify new work arising from the Grayling Initiative every time they see the logo. Lindsay has done that in her beautiful work to create an iconic visual image that will represent this effort throughout Michigan, across the United States, and around the world. That’s a great achievement, and it brings tremendous credit and respect to Au Sable.”    

From now on, when people throughout the world see Lindsay’s logo, they’ll think of the Arctic Grayling Restoration Initiative. In the Au Sable community, Lindsay, we’ll also think of you. Congratulations on this important recognition of your fine work.