Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Education
Grand Traverse Bay Watershed, MI

Grantee: Grand Traverse Bay Watershed Initiative
Basin Program Funds: $7,105
Non-federal Funds: $4,105
Project Duration: 06/1998 - 09/2000
Status: complete

Problem Statement
Soil erosion reduction and prevention activities on the Boardman River in the Grand Traverse Bay watershed are not fully appreciated by the people who reside in and use the watershed. If the clear, sand-bottomed streams are to be preserved, a significant education effort must be undertaken in the watershed. This project will support other Great Lakes Basin Program projects in the watershed by constructing interpretive display panels and conducting teacher training workshops to educate Boardman River users about soil erosion control practices.

This project builds upon successfully completed Great Lakes Basin Program projects designed to protect the Grand Traverse Bay watershed from excessive soil erosion and sedimentation. One component of the project will enhance the Grand Traverse Bay Initiative's Water Watch Program, an information/education program that teaches teachers and students about the value of soil erosion control. Another phase is intended to assess segments of smaller Boardman River tributaries for sediment loading. Support for this task will come from the Grand Traverse Conservation District, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service and graduates of the Water Watch Program. This component will identify priority sites for future monitoring and give Water Watch participants an opportunity to use their newly gained knowledge. Finally, project personnel will develop an exhibit on erosion control best management practices to display at the Initiative's Land and Water Resource Center.

Project personnel held a series of program development and workshop planning meetings, during which they recruited teachers to participate in the program. They also made arrangements to host a sediment monitoring workshop in collaboration with staff members from the Grass River Natural Area, who held a similar workshop in April 1999. In May 1999, project personnel conducted a riverbank restoration workshop, building upon the knowledge gained at the April workshop. Twenty-five students helped restore streambank integrity on the Boardman River in downtown Traverse City. At the same time, they learned about the impact of sedimentation on aquatic insects and fish spawning beds.

In order to educate the public about the Boardman River watershed and impacts from sedimentation, project staff constructed and installed two interpretative signs at sites along the Boardman River with high pedestrian traffic. A consultant developed a Geographic Information System base map of the Boardman River that was incorporated into the interpretive display. Project staff produced 8 laminated plots of the signs, distributing four to the middle and high schools participating in the Water Watch program and one each to the GTBWI center, the Grand Traverse Conservation District and the National Park Service Rivers and Trails program. Project staff retained one plot for use in public presentations to civic organizations.

This project has reached a total of 585 students and 15 teachers through three workshops. Project staff estimate the interpretive displays will reach an additional 3,000 citizens and visitors beyond the grant period, informing them about the Boardman River watershed, the impact sedimentation has on river temperature and about the water quality monitoring being conducted on the river. The experience project staff gained in designing and constructing outdoor interpretative signs will serve to guide others who are developing interpretative educational signs for use in the basin.

Contact: Christopher Wright, Executive Director, (231) 935-1514


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