Ryerson Creek

Ryerson Creek | Muskegon Lake

The downstream end of Ryerson Creek flows through property owned by the City of Muskegon and the United Way before entering Muskegon Lake on the northeast corner of the lake. A portion of the creek was impacted by a failed culvert, which created a blockage in the creek. Much of the floodplain around the creek was impacted by the historic placement of fill, wood from lumbering operations, and invasive species.

The site was restored by replacing the culvert and daylighting a portion of the creek. In-stream habitat was improved through the use of woody structure, and floodplains were re-established along the creek. Invasive plants were controlled along the corridor, and numerous native grasses, wildflowers, shrubs, and trees were installed. Additionally, a rain garden was installed to filter stormwater from the adjacent parking lots prior to entering Ryerson Creek.

Year restored: 2005-2012

Total Area Restored (by habitat type):
Shoreline Softening=540 linear feet
Open Water Wetland=1.81 acres
Emergent Wetland=0.28 acres
Upland Buffer/Invasive Species Control=72 acres

Construction Facts:
Contaminated Sediment Cleanup Cost=$14.2 million
Shoreline Restoration and Invasive Species Removal Cost=$131,732
89,900 cubic yards of contaminated sediment removed
72 acres of invasive species removal
6 3” caliper trees installed
7,287 native plants installed


2019 Site Monitoring Summary

Site Summary Statistics

2019 Native Mean Coefficient of Conservatism: 3.4
2019 Floristic Quality Index (FQI): 18.3
2019 Total Native Species: 34
2019 Percent Invasive Species Cover: <5%

Invasive species currently present:
Invasive cattail (Typha x glauca and Typha angustifolia)

Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)
Water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes)

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

Dominant native species:
Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)

Tall goldenrod (Solidago altissima)
New England aster (Symphotrichum novae-angliae)
Common arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia)
Coontail (Ceratophyllum demersum)

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

Site Summary:

The native plant community along Ryerson has become well established, forming a wetland and floodplain community. The restored portions of the creek appear stable and to be functioning as designed. Invasive cattail has become established in deeper portions of the wetlands. Many of the native shrubs in the corridor are being impacted by high water levels, with signs of mortality present throughout. However, the water levels appear to be encouraging native emergent plants such as arrow arum to flourish in place of the shrubs.

No soil erosion was noted at the site.

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 such as cattail and reed canary grass have become well established at the site, and should be managed through selective herbicide applications. Additionally, the native vine riverbank grape also appears to be impacting the woody species at the site, and should be managed as well.

For more information on invasive plant management, CLICK HERE.

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