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Water: Nonpoint Source Success Stories

Michigan: Carrier Creek

Stabilizing Streambanks and Restoring Wetlands Improves Habitat

Waterbody | Problem | Project Highlights | Results | Partners & Funding

Waterbody Improved

mi_circleCarrier Creek, a tributary to the Grand River, flows through a rapidly developing area near Lansing, Michigan. Historic channelization and more recent urban runoff resulted in eroding stream banks, high sedimentation rates, and degraded aquatic habitat for fish and macroinvertebrate communities. Extensive stream restoration and storm water retention activities have resulted in increased fish taxa at two monitoring locations.

In 2000 a team of contractors, local agencies, and volunteers stabilized and restored 5 miles (3,771 linear feet) of channel using funding from MIDEQ. These projects increased channel stability, improved in-stream habitat, and reconnected the channel to its floodplain. The upstream end of the channel was narrowed, and the stream pattern was reestablished with structures that promote meandering. Throughout the rest of the restored reach, various structures were installed to stabilize the channel, including crossvanes, J-hooks, lunkers, log revetments and riprap (Figures 3, 4, and 5). In some locations, the project team removed dredge spoils that were separating the stream from its natural floodplain.



mi_carrier2 Figure 2. Before: Note the erosion of historic dredge spoils and poor in-stream habitat.

In 2002 project partners created a 32-acre wetland in the headwaters of the watershed to intercept storm water runoff and decrease stream flashiness, or the tendency for the stream to rise and fall quickly after storms. In 2004 the Perrin Chapter of Trout Unlimited installed 50 large, wooden lunker boxes along the creek to provide shelter and resting points for fish.






mi_carrier3 Figure 3. After: Restored stream meanders.

In addition, the Eaton County Drain Commissioner is enhancing storm water detention and flow control throughout the upper portion of the watershed to stabilize the channel, reduce velocity of the flow, reduce erosion downstream, and reduce the amount of flooding. This work is ongoing.

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Figure 4. After: A crossvane.

The data presented in Table 1 represent an interim assessment of the project's progress. MIDEQ collected data on fish, macroinvertebrates, and aquatic habitat quality at two locations within the project area, both before (2000) and after (2006) the restoration activities occurred. MIDEQ collected additional fish data in 2007. The data show that the number of fish taxa has increased at both locations, more than doubling at one site and quadrupling at the other. Macroinvertebrate populations have not responded as quickly; neither the total number of taxa nor the number of pollution-sensitive taxa (mayflies, stoneflies, and caddisflies) had changed substantially as of 2006. As of 2006, aquatic habitat was unchanged at one site, and had improved at the other. However, a single slippershell mussel (Alasmidonta viridis) was found during an informal inspection of the restored reach in 2007. The slippershell is listed as a Species of Special Concern by the Michigan Natural Features Inventory.

The restoration activities conducted to date have stabilized the stream channel and its hydrology, reduced stream bank erosion, and improved aquatic habitat. Fish and macroinvertebrate communities are beginning to respond, and future monitoring should show further improvements in the biota and eventually result in the delisting of Carrier Creek.


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mi_carrier5 Figure 5. After: A J-Hook.

Partners and Funding

In 2000 and 2002, MIDEQ provided a total of $1,263,555 in Clean Michigan Initiative funds (section 319 grant matching funds) to the Eaton County Drain Commissioner for the stream restoration and wetland creation projects. The Drain Commissioner provided a total of $653,943 in local matching funds. Additional partners include the Friends of Carrier Creek, city of Lansing, Windsor and Delta Charter townships, Fitzgerald Henne & Assoc., Inc., Spicer Group Inc., and Trout Unlimited.

Table 1. Fish, macroinvertebrate, and aquatic habitat data for two Carrier Creek project area locations: before and after stream restoration
Metric 2000 (Pre) 2006 (Post) 2007 (Post)1
Site 3 Site 5 Site 3 Site 5 Site 3 Site 5
Number of Taxa 5 3 12 9 12 12
Number of Taxa 12 9 9 15
Number of EPT2 Taxa 2 1 1 1
Rating Acceptable Poor Acceptable Acceptable
Ranking Good Poor Good Excellent
1Macroinvertebrate and habitat surveys for 2007 are in the process of being completed.
2EPT = mayflies, caddisflies, and stoneflies—three orders of pollution-sensitive aquatic insects that are common in the benthic macroinvertebrate community.

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