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

Grantee: Grand Traverse Soil and Water Conservation District
Basin Program Funds: $13,164
Non-federal Funds: $12,739
Project Duration: 06/1996 - 11/1997
Status: complete

Problem Statement
A 1991 study entitled Boardman River Watershed Report identified over 600 eroded 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-designated "Blue Ribbon" trout stream and has negatively impacted the recreational opportunities offered by the river. In addition to correcting these problems, long term protection of the area's soil and water resources as well as improved riparian landowner and user group stewardship is imperative.

The goal of this program was to reduce sedimentation and water quality degradation in the Boardman River Watershed through greater public involvement by: (1) providing hands-on opportunities for students, riparian landowners, and user groups to stabilize and revegetate stream bank erosion sites within the watershed; and (2) conducting an interactive river ecology workshop for the general public where they will improve their understanding of river system dynamics and how their individual actions may affect a river.

Restoration of the Boardman River is an ongoing project and the focus of national attention. Through a Section 319 grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, a successful grant (1994) from the Great Lakes Commission, and with local support from over 200 partners, the District has restored 108 of 600 identified erosion sites since 1993. This had stopped an estimated 1,500 tons of sand from entering the Boardman River System each year. To complement this effort and look toward the future, the current project will increase public involvement in the process through the hands-on opportunities and interactive workshop mentioned above.


Objective A: The following work was completed to provide hands-on opportunities for riparian landowners and user groups to stabilize and revegetate stream bank erosion sites within the watershed. Over 75 people including landowners, Trout Unlimited members, employees from local businesses, students from the Ausable Institute, and eighth graders from Kingsley School restored fourteen sites. This work consisted of:
  • Placing 190 tons of rip-rap and 110 cubic yards of top soil on three actively eroding sites.

  • Placing 50 feet of fish habitat structure and 40 feet of whole-tree revetment at these sites.

  • Restoring a severely eroding recreational access site on state land and placing 5 cubic yards of rip-rap on an associated eroding bank.

  • Restoring the remaining sites with rip-rap, top soil, vegetation, and whole-tree revetment.

  • Earth Day activities involving 23 eighth graders.

  • Restoration by 15 students from the Ausable Institute using whole-tree revetment and top-soil on the North Branch of the Boardman River.

Objective B: In an effort to heighten public knowledge and awareness concerning river ecology two workshops were held. These workshops addressed issues including laws affecting rivers, the importance of aquatic insects, and the principles of river ecology and geomorphic processes. One workshop involved 450 students attending the second annual Student River Congress conducted by the Grand Traverse Bay Watershed Initiative. A model stream, constructed with this grant, was used to demonstrate river processes and simulate restoration techniques. The second workshop, a daylong event held along the banks of the Boardman River, involved 1,500 people learning about river ecology.

Objective A: The project team estimated that 115 tons of soil and an associated 193 pounds of nitrogen and 97 pounds of phosphorus are prevented from entering the Boardman River each year as a result of these projects. As well, a total of 756 linear feet of stream bank were treated, 6,460 square feet of vegetative stabilization was added, and 96 linear feet of fish lunker structures were installed.

Objective B: The project reached almost 2,000 people through the Boardman River ecology workshops.

Evaluation of the success of the Boardman River Restoration Project continues and this information is shared with other resource management groups around the state. Great Lakes Basin Program funds helped involve volunteers in the restoration activities at over 20 erosion sites. Results have been reported in the District newsletter and in the new Boardman River Project newsletter Boardman Currents. The final results were presented at the Michigan Association of Conservation Districts 1997 annual convention.


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