Bear Creek

Bear Creek | Restoration

The Bear Creek Hydrologic Reconnection and Wetland Restoration project is located in North Muskegon and is owned by Muskegon County. Historically, Bear Creek was straightened and disconnected from two ponds for celery farming. The resulting ponds contained a significant amount of phosphorus, which was concentrated in the muck soils and the water column.

Restoration began by first draining the two ponds. Due to the high phosphorus levels, all of the drained water was treated at the Muskegon County Wastewater Treatment Plant to keep the phosphorus out of Bear Lake. After dewatering, soils that were high in phosphorus were removed. The site was graded to create a variety of habitat types, and underwater habitat structures were installed. After re-filling the ponds, the berms were removed and native plants and habitat structures were installed. Based on sampling by Grand Valley State University Annis Water Resources Institute, there was more than a 98% reduction of phosphorus in the water column of the ponds.

Bear Creek Restoration Details
Year Restored: 2016/2018

Area Restored (by habitat type):
Shoreline softening=1,825 linear feet
Open Water Wetland=27.22 acres
Emergent Wetland=9.02 acres
Upland Buffer=1.05 acres

Construction Facts:
$6,333,788 construction cost
182,735 tons of soil removed
71 native species planted
15,000+ native plants installed
29 habitat structures installed

Construction

Post-Restoration

2019 Site Monitoring Summary

Site Summary Statistics

Bear Lake West Pond

2019 Native Mean Coefficient of Conservatism: 4.3
2019 Floristic Quality Index (FQI): 37.4
2019 Total Native Species: 87
2019 Percent Invasive Species Cover: 30%

Invasive species present:
Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)
White sweet clover (Melilotus alba)
Reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea)
Hybrid cattail (Typha x glauca)
Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum)
Phragmites (Phragmites australis)

For more information on invasive plants and their management, CLICK HERE

Dominant native species:
Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)

Pickerel weed (Pontedaria cordata)
Sago pondweed (Stuckenia pectinata)
Elodea (Elodea canadensis)

For more information on native plants around Muskegon Lake, CLICK HERE


Bear Lake East Pond

2019 Native Mean Coefficient of Conservatism: 2.9
2019 Floristic Quality Index (FQI): 17.6
2019 Total Native Species: 56
2019 Percent Invasive Species Cover: 6%

Invasive species present:
Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)

White sweet clover (Melilotus alba)
Hybrid cattail (Typha x glauca)
Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum)
Phragmites (Phragmites australis)
Spotted knapweed (Centaurea stoebe)

For more information on invasive plants and their management, CLICK HERE

Dominant native species:
Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)

Elodea (Elodea canadensis)
Coontail (Ceratophyllum demersum)

For more information on native plants around Muskegon Lake, CLICK HERE

Site Summary:

Vegetation in the upland areas at the site have become well established, with relatively high diversity and few invasive species present. High water levels have likely decreased the diversity of aquatic vegetation in the wetlands. However, this is likely to be cyclical, and diversity is likely to return when water levels recede.

Erosion at the site is minimal and appears to be limited to areas where plants were not well established or in areas that were not part of the original restoration.


Native Mean C=average coefficient of conservatism (C). Each plant is assigned a “C” value, which represents the probability that a plant will occur in an undisturbed area. C values range from 0-10. Wetlands with a native mean C greater than 3.5 are considered “high quality aquatic resources” (USFWS)
FQI=Floristic Quality Inventory, which is an indication of quality of the vegetation at a given site. In general, wetlands with an FQI above 20 are considered “high quality aquatic resources” (USFWS)

Management Recommendations

Invasive species are present throughout the edges of the shoreline and along upland buffers. Populations at this time are relatively small and can be controlled through hand pulling or selective herbicide applications. For more information on invasive plant management, CLICK HERE.

Due to high water levels, the embankments around the ponds should be monitored for signs of erosion. Inspections should include a visual inspection of the embankment along both sides or Witham Road to maintain road stability.

The bluebird and duck boxes on site should be monitored for use, and cleaned out before early spring when nesting birds are likely to return to the site.

The site should be monitored 2-3 times per year to look for erosion and any invasive plants.