Bull Creek Restoration and Ravine Stabilization
Lake Co on Lake Michigan Shoreline, IL

Grantee: Lake Co. Stormwater Management Commission
Basin Program Funds: $25,000.00
Non-federal Funds: $81,716.00
Project Duration: 07/2001 - 06/2002
Status: C

Problem Statement
Hydrologic changes and erosion are the most significant threats to the watershed’s natural resources. Urban runoff associated with land development is the source of this impairment.

Most of the headwaters reaches have been channelized or are conveyed through storm sewers, increasing conveyance capacity and flow. The most significant impacts are occurring in the eroding downstream ravine reaches and in Illinois Beach State Park, where hydrology changes and pollutants are resulting in high quality wetlands being converted to monotypic cattail marshes. Riparian and aquatic habitat is being severely degraded and landowners are experiencing significant property loss along the downstream ravines due to down-cutting and widening of the stream channel.

The goal of this project was to remedy moderate to severe erosion and downstream sedimentation, thereby reducing related water quality and habitat impairments to Bull Creek, Illinois Beach State Park and Lake Michigan. This will be achieved by a public outreach/involvement program, removal of non-native plants in the ravine areas to allow growth of native soil-stabilizing plants, and installment of 9-12 riffles as part of a grade control program. Plus there will be the installation of bio-engineering BMPs.

Planning and organization of a volunteer water quality monitoring training workshop is on-going. The workshop was scheduled to be held at Illinois Beach State Park on June 28, 2003. Project organizers/co-sponsors include the Bull Creek Stakeholders Association (BCSA), Illinois Beach State Park, Lake County Stormwater Management Commission (SMC), and Lake County Health Department. Bull Creek Stakeholders Association holds bi-monthly meetings on the first Tuesday evening of the month for stakeholder input participation (5 during this period).

Lake County Stormwater Management Commission has received word that the Federal appropriation for watershed planning that includes a comprehensive watershed plan for the Dead River/Bull Creek subwatershed was approved. An application for Federal funds was submitted to the state office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service in April 2003 with planning projected to start in the 3rd quarter of 2003.

Following a comprehensive environmental review process (CERP) by Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), an IDNR land use permit was approved to access the channel and install riffles on Illinois Beach State Park property. Lake County Watershed Development Permit (WDP) received for entire project scope with permission to proceed with first phase of riffle installation (4 riffles). Permission to proceed with final phase in 2003-04 (installation of 9 riffles, floodplain terracing and streambank stabilization) of project will be issued after North Shore Sanitary District sign-off on final plans (pending their review of any effect on the sanitary line easement). WDP pre-construction meeting was held at site February 13, 2003.

Summary of accomplishments:

  1. Completed CERP review process and received land use permit from IDNR.
  2. After a lengthy process, received watershed development permit.
  3. Current phase of project installation completed. Vegetation management completed and four riffles installed for grade control.
  4. Easements recorded for first phase of project installation.

Summary of remaining actions to be completed:

  1. Conduct volunteer water quality monitoring workshop June 28, 2003.
  2. Secure remaining funding to complete the current project scope in this stream reach.
  3. Complete installation of nine grade-control riffles, floodplain terracing and streambank stabilization in 2003-04.
  4. Conservation easements on remaining 5 parcels will be recorded with the County soon.
  5. Will continue to work with BCSA, the Corps and NSSD to coordinate the Corps/NSSD project to stabilize sanitary sewer lines with this stream stabilization /restoration project.

Summary of problems encountered:

  1. Took much longer than expected for coordination related to the issuance of watershed development permit (WDP). The WDP permit required review and approval by SMC for floodway/floodplain impacts; the Village of Beach Park was responsible for soil erosion sediment control review, issuing the permit and inspections. Review was also coordinated with North Shore Sanitary District due to their sanitary line easement through part of the project site. The Village’s consultant was going to charge Bull Creek Stakeholders Association (BCSA) $10K for the project permit (an amount that was considerably greater than the budget allowed), therefore, an agreement was negotiated with the Village, BCSA and SMC, whereby the Village requested that SMC complete the entire project review, permitting and inspections (less than $1K).
  2. CERP process also lengthier than expected. Securing a land use permit from IDNR to expand the riffle installation to stabilize the streambed on the Illinois Beach State Park parcel at the downstream end of the reach was challenging, as it had to be reviewed and coordinated between four offices of IDNR. The land use permit includes conditions related to project timing and IDNR review of erosion control and revegetation plans.
  3. The weather was uncooperative for project installation. We had an unseasonably warm (soft ground) December followed by an extended period of very cold weather in January and February where the ground was too hard for excavation. We finally got cooperative weather to complement the contractor’s schedule in April 2003.
  4. The bed of the semi trailer that delivered the stone for the riffles to the project site overturned while emptying the last load (February 13). Fortunately, no one was hurt. But, the hydraulic line was broken and hydraulic fluid leaked onto the yard of the property used for access. The project contractor responded rapidly to contain and clean up the fluid. Fortunately the ground was frozen and the fluid was contained and absorbed. Conservation Officers determined that it was handled appropriately and no fluid reached the stream. The trucking company later removed the affected soil, replaced it with clean soil and restored the lawn in the affected area. The affected homeowners are satisfied with the result.

Contact: Patricia Werner, (847) 918-5269


Great Lakes Commission des Grands Lacs.  2805 S. Industrial Highway, Suite 100.  Ann Arbor, MI  48104-6791.  phone: 734/971.9135.  fax: 734/971-9150.  projects.glc.org. Join the Friends of the Great Lakes GLIN Partner