Reducing Sedimentation of the Boardman River Through Public Involvement
Grand Traverse, MI

Grantee: Grand Traverse Soil and Water Conservation District
Basin Program Funds: $9,721
Non-federal Funds: $11,908
Project Duration: 09/1994 - 08/1995
Status: complete

Problem Statement
More than 600 erosion sites along the Boardman River and its tributaries have been identified. The resulting sedimentation is significantly degrading the trout fishery and negatively impacting the recreational opportunities offered by the river.

The goal of this project is to reduce sedimentation and water quality degradation of the Boardman River by enhancing public involvement. This will be accomplished by providing hands-on opportunities for riparian landowners and user groups to stabilize and revegetate streambank erosion sites within the watershed, and by working with local planning and zoning officials and decision makers to improve understanding and enforcement of regulations related to water quality protection and erosion control.

The 1991 Boardman River Watershed Report identifies over 600 erosion sites along the Boardman River and its tributaries; 85% of these sites are the result of human activity. The sediment entering the river from these sites has significantly degraded the productivity of this state-designed "Blue Ribbon Trout Stream" and has thus negatively impacted the recreational opportunities offered by the river. A 3-year restoration project funded by the federal 319 program has begun to address the worst of these sites. Unfortunately, only 10% to 15% of these sites will be restored under this funding

Over 55 tons of soil containing an estimated 10 pounds of nitrogen and 55 pounds of phosphorous were stopped from entering the Boardman River system each year through restoration activities by four volunteer groups at six sites.

Three volunteer groups were made up of riparian landowners and interested citizens. The fourth group comprised of 14 students from Dr. Dave Mahan's (a stream ecologist) River Restoration class at AuSable Environmental Institute. In all, over 224 volunteer hours were spent working on the six sites which included time spent for site plan development, permit application, material acquisition, access agreements and site restoration activities.

At the six sites the volunteers installed a total of:

  • 80 cubic yards of rock rip-rap

  • 95 lineal feet of whole tree revetment

  • 32 lineal feet of fish habitat (lunker) structure

  • 80 lineal feet of storm-water diversion berm

  • 110 cubic yards of top-soil

  • 6,000 square feet of seed and mulch

The volunteers were also educated on the finer points of stream ecology, underscoring why landowner stewardship is critical to the health of river systems.

In addition, all township and county (both) zoning officials, administrators, and planning commission chairmen in the Boardman River Watershed were invited to a workshop where guest speakers reviewed public acts: 346 Inland Lakes and Streams Act (1972); 347 Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control Act (1972); 203 Wetlands Protection Act (1979); and 201 Natural River Act (1970). The Grand Traverse County Storm Water Ordinance (which has been espoused as a model ordinance state wide) was reviewed as well, with a plan to have it disseminated in the five-county area that makes up the greater Grand Traverse Bay watershed. Flyers explaining each act were passed out at the meeting. After lunch the group floated the Boardman River to review resotred and soon-to-be restored erosion sites.

Soil loss results were calculated using the Michigan Department of Natural Resources' (MDNR's) Pollutants Controlled Calculation and Documentation (Revised 1993).


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