Montague Drain Bio-Engineering Erosion Control Project
Muskegon County, MI

Grantee: Muskegon County Soil Conservation District
Basin Program Funds: $14,975
Non-federal Funds: $13,344
Project Duration: 06/1996 - 09/1997
Status: complete

Problem Statement
Severe gully and stream bank erosion is occurring on the upper end of the Montague Drain at Buttermilk Creek. Approximately 525 tons of sediment are delivered to White Lake each year from this source. It has been identified as one of the major source of sediment to the lake by the White Lake Public Advisory Council (PAC), the Muskegon County Soil Conservation District (MCSCD), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture - Natural Resource Conservation Service (USDA—NRCS).

The goal of this project was to reduce soil erosion and the amount of resulting sediment entering White Lake. Project personnel achieved this by building partnerships with local units of government, local citizen groups, and state and federal agencies. The project also included the implementation of a demonstration bio-engineering erosion control project to remediate gully and stream bank erosion around White Lake. This project helped raise public knowledge and awareness about soil erosion and the negative impacts of resulting sedimentation.

Following the 1995 Montague Drain Bio-Engineering Design, remedial work was carried out which included vegetation, along with rock rip-rap and filter cloth to control erosion. This design, which identified 15 sites for treatment in a 1,400 foot reach, was a result of a project by the MCSCD and the White Lake PAC. Project personnel included MCSCD, USDA-NRCS, and contractual staff with assistance from White Lake PAC members and community volunteers. The design consultant and NRCS staff assisted MCSCD staff in the application of bio-engineering techniques to the 15 sites. MCSCD staff coordinated the volunteer labor pool which included a Montague High School FFA/Agri-science class, PAC members, interested volunteers, and hired individuals. MCSCD staff, with PAC members, implemented the educational component of this project. They promoted bio-engineering techniques to control erosion on other streams in the White Lake watershed, increased public awareness of the detrimental effects of sediment, and encouraged students in a local hands-on science application of bio-engineering technology.


Project personnel, PAC members, and volunteers completed the following tasks:
  • Met with the engineering design consultant for training and consultation in the installation of bioengineering techniques at sites identified in the design plan.
  • Identified permits needed for the project.

  • Contacted private landowners for their cooperation and received permission to access their property in order to deliver materials to the site.

  • Video-taped each site along Montague Drain for use in training, public education, project dissemination and evaluation.

  • Surveyed and flagged each site as well as upland access areas for toe stone and material delivery.

  • Student involvement during National Making a Difference Day: 120 students and 20 adults attended a talk on the issue of soil erosion and the negative impacts of sedimentation on water quality. Following the talk, 30 students and teachers participated in a hands-on workshop on bio-engineering design and techniques. The students participated in preparing the site for spring planting.

  • Sent two press releases to local media to announce the project and to highlight the collaborative approach used.

  • Installed 55 tons of toe stone on the 9 sites calling for slope protection.

  • Planted approximately 650 shrubs, silky dogwood and willow stakes, to revegetate slopes on the 15 sites.

  • Cleared and removed debris from 1,400 feet of the channel that was causing stream bank erosion.

  • Repaired the 6-8 foot over fall that was cutting back up the stream bottom, through the road commission.

  • Completed bio-engineering treatment to the 15 sites—670 feet of eroded stream banks as called for in the design.

A total of 26,375 people have received information on soil erosion/sedimentation and the Montague Drain project through presentations and articles. This includes 35 White Lake Public Advisory Council members and 400 recipients of the PAC newsletter, Lakenews; 120 students from four school districts and 20 adults who organized "Making a Difference Day;" and, 15,000 Muskegon Chronicle subscribers through the MCSCD Annual Report published as an insert in that newspaper. Project news has been disseminated through the White River Watershed Partnership and Timberland RC and D as well. Information reached an additional 10,800 people through the a White Lake Beacon article.

A estimated total of 485 tons of soil, 485 pounds of phosphorus, and 970 pounds of nitrogen have been saved through this project.

Contact: Kathy Dusseau, (616) 773-0008


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