Empowering Environmental Youth Clubs Through the Great Lakes Basin Program
Wexford Soil and Water Conservation District
Basin Program Funds:
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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