York Creek/Alpine-Walker Drain Stream Bank Stabilization Project
Alpine-Walker, MI

Grantee: Grand Valley State University Water Resources Institute
Basin Program Funds: $4,382
Non-federal Funds: $3,120
Project Duration: 11/1997 - 04/1998
Status: complete

Problem Statement
An increasing percentage of the Alpine-Walker Drainage District is shifting to high-density, commercial uses with a corresponding increase in impervious surface areas. These areas lack sufficient storm water control which has resulted in stream bank failure at several locations in the watershed.

The Alpine-Walker Drain is a feeder stream into the larger York Creek hydrologic system. Nonpoint source pollution problems and hydrologic instability occurring in the Drain add to York Creek's problems such as out-of-bank flooding, channel clogging from imbedded sediment and lateral stream meandering. In order to address these issues, the York Creek Watershed Project is undertaking a three-track approach to watershed management which include administrative best management practices (BMP) such as a township storm water management ordinance, researching and installing storm water surge control technologies which complement current storm water systems, and instituting a variety of bio-engineered bank stabilization activities.

Phase I: Tree Revetments and Log Wall Construction Field crews reinforced slope toes using logs affixed with 3/16 inch steel cable and heavy guage duckbill driven approximately 2.5 feet into the streambed. Then graduated sizes of granite cobble were deposited in front and behind the logs, the area immediately behind the logs was backfilled with finer cobble and clay/sand substrate removed from the stream channel. Field crews then installed recycled Christmas trees within the average high water mark in a "shingle" pattern placing larger diameter trees at the bottom. Several sites required "harder" structures than tree revetments and field crews installed hardwood log walls behind six-foot steel posts driven three-feet into the streambed. Large cobble and boulders protected log walls from high-water then Christmas trees were secured behind the wall to induce further stabilization. Phase I field work concluded by mid-September 1997.

Phase II: Live Stake Planting In January 1998 the York Creek Project Manager decided to supplement Phase I activities with a live stake planting program. Seven hundred live stakes of species similar to native bush such as red osier dogwood, grey dogwood, button bush, and black willow were ordered. Field crews began installing the live stakes in May and completed the project within two weeks.

The project stabilized approximately 1,000 feet of stream bank during Phase I. During Phase II 700 native species live stakes were installed as a supplement to Phase I. An instructional video detailing the Phase II methodology was also completed.

One year later, 90% of Phase I installations remain intact. The 10% which required maintenance has been attributed to a 100-year storm event occurring in September 1997. It is estimated that the project will save 742 tons of soil over fifteen years of the project life.

Local engineering firms have expressed interest in the project as has the Kent County Drain and Road Commission and Alpine Township. The York Creek Project Manager presented the project to about 100 people of the Maple River drainage district and the York Creek Watershed Project Steering Committee at two workshops and anticipate reaching close to 1,000 more persons over the next few year. Bio-engineering presents an increasingly accepted alternative to conventional erosion control practices in stream bank protection and restoration.

Contact: Ed Frye, (616) 895-3722


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