Here is a snapping turtle laying eggs near the creek.
Turtles have been laying eggs on this stream bank.
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.