Empowering Environmental Youth Clubs Through the Great Lakes Basin Program
Wexford County, MI

Grantee: Wexford Soil and Water Conservation District
Basin Program Funds: $10,000
Non-federal Funds: $17,916
Project Duration: 04/1995 - 03/1996
Status: complete

Problem Statement
A 1994 Upper Clam River Watershed Study identified nutrient enrichment and sedimentation as a major cause of water quality and fish habitat problems. Large sand bars have been created from accumulated soil erosion in the river system disrupting the natural flow of the river.

Sources of sediment include dirt-gravel alleys, poorly maintained road crossings, construction sites, gully and streambank erosion, and public access sites. Degraded habitat, stream hydrology, and urban pollutants are negatively affecting the fishery and recreation of the Clam River.

The goal of this project is to develop hands-on activities for the Cadillac High School Ecology Club to reduce the major pollutants to the Clam River and create an atmosphere of involvement and cooperation among units of government, agencies, special interest groups and private sector organizations in the Upper Clam River Watershed. The project will also encourage other schools in the region to promote environmental clubs.

The Upper Clam River watershed is located in the north central region of the lower peninsula of Michigan. It consists of approximately 64,000 acres of land including several rural communities and one urban population center.

The Great Lakes Basin Program is spending $10,000 over a 12 month period to: 1) develop public education and information programs with students to teach citizens how to reduce the negative effects of their activities on river and lake water quality; 2) organize a "Clean up the Clam River Day" to improve the aesthetics of the river; 3) repair two major road-stream crossings, and repair 100 linear feet of critically eroding streambank; and, 4) reduce other pollutants in stormwater, lakes and rivers.

The Cadillac High School Ecology Club in cooperation with the Wexford Soil and Water Conservation District has formed a club called the Environmental Response Team (ERT). The ERT has created an atmosphere of involvement and cooperation among units of government, agencies and special interest groups. In addition, ERT has shared information with other schools in the region to encourage use of environmental clubs for improving the entire Great Lakes water quality. A list of project accomplishments is listed below:

Develop public education and information programs

  • The Wexford Conservation District (WCD) and ERT distributed information to 55 local businesses on the negative impacts of their activities on our river and lake water quality. TV 7 and 4 featured ERT on three televised news reports highlighting activities and the negative impacts of soil erosion and pollution.

  • A public service announcement on the effects of soil erosion was featured during Earth Week activities on WTCM radio which has a audience of more than 100,000.

  • The City of Cadillac's newsletter published information on impacts of misuse of fertilizer and pesticides in the urban watershed. This publication was distributed to more than 10,000 residents in the watershed.

  • The WCD featured ERT in their quarterly publication of Earthwatch and Annual Report. Over 30,000 copes were distributed to residents in Wexford County, Missaukee and Osceola Counties.

  • ERT worked with 15 lakefront property owners to eliminate the use of phosphorus fertilizers. The WCD also distributed 12 greenbelt packets or plantings along Lake Cadillac and the Clam River.

  • ERT prepared and distributed, to over 100 schools in Michigan, guides to promote environmental clubs

Improve the aesthetics of the Clam River

  • Volunteers from the WCD Youth Employment and Training Program and ERT participated in the Clean Up of the Clam River Day. Over 30 cubic yards of debris and over 100 bags of garbage were collected from the Clam River from Lake Cadillac to the County Line. The City of Cadillac hauled the debris and the Wexford County Lakefill accepted the garbage at no cost.

  • Information on composting leaves and grass clippings, dog waste and garbage dumped into the Clam River were provided to 52 residences on the Clam River.

Decrease sediment and phosphorus transport to surface waters and storm drains

  • Over 1,000 feet of silt fence was provided to contractors to prevent soil erosion. Prior to this year, contractors were not required to install silt fences, so they were rarely used.

  • Two urban roadstream crossings were repaired. Rock rip-rap, seedings, and vegetative plantings helped to stabilize the critically eroding areas. The repair prevented 59 tons of soil from entering the Clam River

  • The ERT and WCD installed 1,120 linear feet of rock rip-rap on critically eroding shoreline. Siltation barriers were also used at this highly visible site on Lake Cadillac, and over 200 residents visited the site to learn about erosion control.

Reduce other pollutants in stormwater, lakes and rivers

  • ERT worked with local supermarkets to ensure that flyers are removed from shopping carts before they blow away.

Wexford County Soil and Water Conservation District exceeded their project goals due to inter-agency cooperation, donations, volunteers and in kind services. The Great Lakes Basin Program has leveraged $17,916 from non federal sources.

Contact: Efrain Rosalez, Wexford Soil and Water Conservation District, (616) 775-5458


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