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Au Sable River Watershed Restoration

Otsego, Crawford, Roscommon, Oscoda, Alcona and Iosco Counties

December 1, 1999 | By Keith Schneider
Great Lakes Bulletin News Service

In 1990, the Grayling-based Huron Pines Resource Conservation and Development Council, in cooperation with federal, state and local organizations, began repairing banks along the main branch of the AuSable River and its tributaries that had been damaged earlier in the century by logging, hydroelectric operations, and recreation. Erosion caused tons of sand to flow into the river, disrupting the river's ecological balance and ultimately harming the trout fishery, a mainstay of the economy of the north central Lower Peninsula.

As part of the project, volunteers planted shrubs and installed rock rip-rap to stabilize eroding banks. They also installed or repaired stairways and other structures to accommodate increased recreational traffic.

Road crossings, which generally act as sluices for sand, were studied and repaired. The project even used specialized equipment to place logs and trees in the water to mimic natural conditions for erosion control, and to provide habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms.

Eight years into the project, most of the severely eroding banks in the upper part of the river above Mio Pond have been repaired. Work is now underway to halt erosion and to improve the aquatic habitat on the lower reaches of the river.

Brian Benjamin, Watershed Coordinator, Huron Pines RC&D Council, 517-348-9319, E-mail huron@freeway.net.

Bear Creek Watershed Restoration - Kent County -

Concerned that rapid growth and record numbers of new homes would harm Bear Creek, a healthy trout stream in northeast Kent County, Cannon Township initiated a watershed protection project in 1994. Grand Valley State University Water Resources Institute, a project partner, conducted a year-long scientific assessment along the creek, which runs through the southern portion of the township.

In the past three years, the township enacted new ordinances, and required new management practices to prevent damage to Bear Creek. They include:

• Moving a dairy herd out of the creek, and helping a farmer design and construct a new animal watering station and build new fencing.

• Digging out pools in the stream to act as traps for sand and sediment.

• Holding public meetings to inform residents about the need to protect the creek.

• Establishing an ordinance that requires homes and businesses to be built at least 100 feet from the banks of the creek and its tributaries, and directs developers to protect a 25-foot buffer of trees and vegetation in their natural state along the banks.

The township also is working on another ordinance to give officials more authority to control soil erosion by requiring better management of storm water and runoff.


CONTACT: Bonnie Schupe, Cannon Township Clerk and Watershed Administrator, 616-874-6966, E-mail bonnies@cannontwp.org.

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