Berry Lake Inlet Watershed Soil Erosion/Sediment Control Project
Reading Township, Hillsdale County, MI

Grantee: Hillsdale Conservation District
Basin Program Funds: $21,860
Non-federal Funds: $32,600
Project Duration: 07/2003 - 05/2004
Status: complete

Problem Statement
The upper reaches of the St. Joseph River in Hillsdale County, Michigan are dotted with many small glacial lakes. The natural stream systems that drain into these lakes experience severe streambank and streambed erosion due to unstable channel grades and easily erodible soils. There is currently a lack of awareness by local government decision-makers and Lake Association members with:

  • Proper stream management and streambank stabilization techniques
  • How to garner public/constituent support for conservation application and watershed management
  • Where to find technical (agency) support
  • The impact sediment from streambank and channel erosion has on water quality

The sediment transport for one of these streams, Berry Lake Inlet, is estimated at 428 tons per year. The upland cropped portions of these watersheds have had intense best management practice application and yet there is still unacceptable loads being delivered into the lakes and the Upper St. Joseph stream systems (Hog Creek). This sediment and nutrient load is creating turbidity in Berry Lake and the Hemlock/Berry Lake chain as well as excess weed growth that are adversely impacting fishing and other recreational activities and degrading water quality. The sediment-loading problem is an issue with most of the lakes in the upper reaches of the St. Joseph River in Hillsdale County.

There is a specific site in Section 20 of Reading Township that is experiencing severe erosion and sediment loading to the Berry Lake Inlet. It is highly visible, easily accessible, and very treatable with sound conservation measures. The presents an excellent opportunity to do innovative demonstration conservation applications that can be used as both a local and regional model for erosion control, streambank stabilization, and stream corridor restoration. Over two feet of downstream streambed has been covered by sediment delivery (24 ft wide, 550 ft long) and one-fourth of Berry Lake has been impacted by sediment from this site.

The focus of this project was to demonstrate the planning and implementing of best management practices (BMP’s) in order to stabilize streambanks and restore streambeds by completing one large site at the Berry Lake inlet (Hog Creek system). The project brought together local government, lake associations, technical agencies, and private citizens/riparian landowners to collaborate on and develop a process to identify, prioritize, and install conservation measures to reduce erosion and sediment loads entering area stream and lakes from the unstable stream channels and banks.

The demonstration/implementation site focused on utilizing strategically placed log deflectors from onsite to control streambank erosion. A vortex weir structure made from natural stone is planned to control stream channel down cutting. This structure was combined with a sediment trap to further reduce sediment delivery to Berry Lake while the log deflector work was being completed. A riparian buffer strip was also developed on both sides of the stream channel to eliminate bank erosion. Bank shaping, vegetative seeding, and stream channel restoration was also done. The restored site is over 500 ft. long.

An associated education/information component was also developed as part of this project. This included creation of photo/video presentations, conservation display board, field tours and workshop, and an information brochure. In addition, local area schools were involved in both the planning and implementation of bmp’s at the site as well as in water quality monitoring, erosion and sediment load prediction, and in development of an "Adopt-A-Stream" program.

The end goal of this project was to develop a process that can be copied by other local units of government and lake associations to solve similar problems in the Upper St. Joseph stream systems and region wide. Very few sites in southern Michigan have the extreme grade in stream fall that occurs with the Berry Lake inlet (30 ft. of fall in ¼ mile).

The streambank stabilization and stream channel restoration demonstration project at this severely eroding site was completed using both soft and hard engineering and using natural restoration techniques. The site will be used as a model of how to plan and implement needed conservation and restoration at severely eroding sites. The Hillsdale Conservation District and Reading Township agree to inspect project BMP’s on an annual basis or after significant storm event and will determine appropriate maintenance activities needed.

A total of three articles were written about the project and the impact of sediment in the Hog Creek Newsletter. A display board was developed and used at various functions. There were six school presentations developed and implemented along with photo/video clips for presentations. A DVD video of the project with before and after footage was produced and posted on the website location at: A two-year calendar was developed and distributed that includes articles on sedimentation and its effects and pictures within the Hog Creek Watershed and Berry Lake. A sign will be placed at site acknowledging the project and all of the sponsors involved.

Contact: Ms. Dee Miller, 517 849-9890, ext 101


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. Join the Friends of the Great Lakes GLIN Partner