Lake St. Clair Coastal Habitat
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Soil Erosion and Sedimentation

Photo: Lynn Betts, NRCS

Increased erosion and sedimentation are directly related to land-use changes or to poor land management. This is a regular occurrence in agricultural areas, where farmers must plow the soil to plant seeds. It can also occur when vegetation is removed for construction purposes for new roads and buildings.  Clear-cutting of forests can also expose soil to erosion, as can forest fires. This dislocated soil is then carried - or transported - by wind and water. Some of this dislocated soil is deposited in ditches and stream channels, while the remainder passes through the system and contributes to the "sediment yield" or the total sediment that leaves a drainage basin.

Increased rates of erosion and sedimentation can cause a wide array of damages as it moves through the ecosystem, affecting habitat, degrading water quality and directly harming fish and wildlife species. Erosion and sedimentation can negatively impact the health and function of stream channels. Increased fluvial sediment in coastal wetlands and estuaries may result in extended tidal marshes, shoaling, infilling of navigation channels, reduction of benthic and aquatic habitat, and reduced primary productivity due to turbulence and limited light penetration. Erosion and sedimentation can also adversely impact the aquatic habitat through increased turbidity, increased temperature, and reduced productivity, and can degrade habitat and spawning areas, impact feeding grounds, and directly impact the health of aquatic species.


For more information, see: Habitat Assessment, Section V (PDF)