Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Relocating Turtle Nests

When the Traver Creek Project was started, one of the most interesting parts was the turtle stipulation. In order to begin the creek renovation, a permit was submitted to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ.) To satisfy the MDEQ permit of the project, turtles and other herptofauna were relocated from the two inline detention basins (AKA ponds on holes #12 and #17) on Traver Creek to the pond on #8. There are at least four large snapping turtles (Chelydra serpentina) and numerous painted turtles(Chrysemys picta) in Traver Creek and there was concern over what would happen to these turtles during and after the project was completed. To help them after the project, four sand piles were created for the turtles to use as nesting areas. 

The mother laying her eggs.

Last week, a City employee noticed a painted turtle laying eggs in the lawn area of an apartment complex. These eggs would have had very little chance of hatching and those eggs that hatched would have had a hard time getting to the relative safety of the water. The employee notified Natural Area Preservation (NAP) and the staff herpetologist came out to examine the nest. He determined that the eggs would not survive and removed them. He marked the eggs because they an air bubble grows at the top. If the eggs are inverted, the embryos inside will not develop. 

The eggs in the nest.

Nine eggs were marked and removed. This is a typical amount of eggs per nest.

The eggs were taken to the pond near #12 at Leslie. A shallow hole was excavated and the eggs placed inside. After covering the eggs with soil, a predator exclusion box was placed over the nest. This will keep raccoons and other small animals from eating them until they hatch in September.

One of the turtle nesting mounds.

The predator exclusion box, along with an explanation of what it is and a phone number for questions.

Over the weekend, a golfer noticed a snapping turtle doing the same thing in one of the bunkers at Huron Hills.

The turtles go into a trance when laying eggs and do not respond. Please stay away from them during this process.

These eggs were removed to another location, closer to the south pond of the Huron River.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Turtles come back to Traver Creek

In the last couple of days, we have seen an increase in turtles. You may recall that one of the big objectives of the Traver Creek Project was to minimize the impact on turtle populations in the creek and ponds on the golf course. You can read more about this program HERE and HERE.

Here is a snapping turtle laying eggs near the creek.

Turtles have been laying eggs on this stream bank.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Golf Course Management Article

The Traver Creek Project was featured in the January issue of Golf Course Management Magazine, the monthly magazine from The Golf Course Superintendent's Association of America (GCSAA.) The article, written by GCM's managing editor Bunny Smith, is available by visiting Gently Down the Stream. A photograph of Hole #12 is also on the table of contents page. Below is the text of the article.

Sometimes, a plan comes together, as Scott Spooner, the superintendent at Leslie Park Golf Course in Ann Arbor, Mich., can tell you.
Even when the plan involves city, state and federal stakeholders, cooperation can grease the wheels, free up the backhoe and get the work done. A comprehensive stream restoration of Traver Creek, a tributary of the Huron River that traverses much of Leslie Park GC’s back nine, broke ground in October 2012; by the time the golf season got into full swing in June 2013, the job was largely complete.
The Huron River and its tributaries are within the contributing area of Ford Lake in Ypsilanti, Mich., which had been identified as impaired under Section 303(d) of the federal Clean Water Act. The pollutants of concern were sediment and phosphorus that led to annual algae blooms in this important recreational waterway.
The irrigation pond formed by the impoundment where the stream enters city owned Leslie Park GC had become so filled with sediment since its construction in 1964 that the irrigation intake was accessing only 6 inches of water, says Spooner, a 15-year member of GCSAA. “Stretching out” the pond in the mid-’90s had only postponed the problem, not solved it.
Working with the Washtenaw County Water Resources Commission and with grants and loans from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Spooner oversaw construction of maintainable sediment forebays, a two-stage channel design that reconnects the floodplain and several acres of water-quality treatment wetlands. Harry Sheehan, the county water commission’s environmental manager, says that dredging removed 30,000 yards of sediment. According to Sheehan, the $1.7 million project will reduce sediment by 685 tons and phosphorus by 611 pounds a year. Such large-scale reductions are possible, he adds, because the pollution control practices at Leslie Park GC occur in the downstream portion of the 4,600-acre Traver Creek watershed.
The stream bed was stabilized using a series of grade-control structures that arrest erosive down-cutting and habitat loss. These native stone structures allow the energy of a 9-foot vertical drop within the golf course property to be dissipated without damage to the channel, Sheehan says. In total, he adds,3,300 linear feet of channel was either daylighted or restored; 6.5 acres of water-quality treatment wetland have been created; and 10.2 acres have been planted with 50 different native species, including 79 native trees and 347 shrubs. Spooner says the native species include blue flag iris, switchgrass, swamp milkweed, asters, black-eyed Susan, blue fox sedge and Joe-Pye weed.
The wetlands have been created in five different areas of the golf course and form an especially attractive view for golfers as they tee off from the 11th and 13th tees, Spooner says. Aesthetics aside, the wetlands also create habitat and movement corridors for wildlife, including a species of butterfly that is on the state endangered species list.
The material that was dredged from the irrigation pond was used to raise the No. 10 fairway and tee by about a foot.
“We now have a fairway that stays dry,” Spooner says.
For more details and photos of the Traver Creek restoration project, visit Spooner’s blog at www.travercreekproject.blogspot.com.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Then and Now

Last year at this time, we started the Traver Creek Project. The transformation of the golf course is the previous 12 months is amazing.

Below is the view from #10 tee last summer.
Notice the tree to the left of the tee box.

This spring before the tee is rebuilt. You can see the ballwasher and tee sign.

Laying the sod.

The rough starting to come in this summer.

October 1st.

Number twelve shows a more drastic transformation.

The view from the tee in July 2012.

The view in December.

May 2013.


Number eleven.


After construction.


Number thirteen.



Number ten green.

View of the green from the fairway before construction.


Number seventeen.

This photo is from 2010.

November 2012.

Spring 2013.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Brown areas in newly seeded areas.

If you have been paying close attention, you may have noticed some of the grass in the newly seeded areas (mostly on #10, #11, #13 and #18) is turning brown. Since the past week has been dry, your first thought might be that some of the grass seedlings are drying out. That is not the primary culprit. Two weeks ago, we noticed that a lot of the plants coming in were either crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis) or Yellow Nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus.) These weeds would die off at the first hard frost but would germinate from seeds(crabgrass and nutsedge) and/or tubers (nutsedge) in subsequent years. Luckily, there are herbicides that can kill the weeds and hopefully, prevent that from happening. It is hoped that by spraying this product now, when the areas are first growing in and populations are not high, we can avoid having these weeds in later seasons. What you are seeing as brown grass is the weeds starting to die off. We go at low rates of the herbicide and do multiple applications in order to minimize the risk to the desirable turfgrasses and to prevent herbicide runoff.

Along #18, you can see patches of the brown "grass."

More patches between #10 tee (foreground) and the fairway. Most of this area was Yellow Nutsedge.

The left side of #13 fairway. You can see a greener line to the left of the cart path. This was an area where the contractor had a problem with the irrigation line. They had to dig it up after it was originally seeded and hand spread the seed after fixing the irrigation. This meant they put down more seed per square foot. The resulting turfgrasses came in thick enough to discourage the weeds from germinating.

A closer picture. The brown, spider-like clumps are crabgrass. This form is how it got it's common name.

Here is a much closer image. You can see the turfgrasses are growing amongst the dying crabgrass and are looking very healthy.

The brown clumps here are sedges.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Snapping Turtle Migration

This morning, a large female snapping turtle was seen moving along Traver Creek. She was between the first bridges downstream from Traver Road and the #17 pond. This is great news because it means that at least some of the turtles we moved last fall for the Traver Creek Project have made it back to the areas they were relocated from. The photo above is from last fall, as I did not have my camera with me this morning. You can read more about the turtle relocation HEREHEREHERE or HERE.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Substantial Completion

With the laying of the sod on #10 fairway and tee, as well as the seeding of the remaining areas of rough, substantial completion of the Traver Creek Project has been reached. Substantial completion does not include the cart paths that need to be replaced, the spoil pile to the west of #14 tee and the irrigation system (which has some kinks to be worked out.)

#10 tee ready for sod.

Bentgrass sod being delivered and rolled out on #10 tee.

The tee is taking shape.

After the bentgrass sod was layed out on the tee, the contractors went to work on the bentgrass in the fairway on the front half of the fairway. This area was raised about a foot in order to facilitate drainage. They then put down bluegrass sod around the tee. This is the predominate grass type in our rough. IN the next couple of days, the contractors were able to finish grading and seeded everything. Now it will need some time for the grass to germinate and grow.