Hamlin Lake Preservation Society

 

Protecting Hamlin Lake for Future Generations 

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Dennis Creek Watershed
Seth Earl, District Conservationist, Mason-Lake Counties, USDA - NRCS
March 23, 2016
Dennis Creek is a small watershed that reaches as far east as Amber Rd. and as far south as Victory Rd. While small in nature this watershed is capable depositing large volumes of sediment into Hamlin Lake. The unique characteristics of the watershed include the irregularity of the slopes coupled with heavy clay soils that are lined with a silt layer. The soils; coupled with the short but steep slopes in the, area are susceptible to erosion.


A perfect example of the erosion characteristics within the watershed is at the Dennis Rd. crossing. The crossing is at the bottom of 2 relatively long slopes (1,150 ft.) and about 8% grade. The longer slopes allow the opportunity for water to pick up velocity which aids in erosion. The 3 components needed for soil erosion are availability, detachment and transport. The slopes along the road offer both the detachment and transport process of the erosion equation.


Dennis Creek is stream in flux; while small in nature; it has the potential to negatively impact downstream water ecology. Clay soils stay in suspension longer than sand soils due to their small particle size. Sand particles are larger and heavier and tend to fall out of suspension typically within river beds. Sedimentation was identified as a major threat to the ecology of the Big Sable River Watershed in the Hamlin Lake Watershed Management Plan approved by MDEQ in 1999. In 2002, MDEQ conducted a qualitative biological survey of the Big Sable River System, which included a sampling station at the road crossing in Dennis Creek. This station had the lowest macro invertebrate score and the lowest habitat rating of all seven stations. Biologists observed very turbid water conditions and significant inputs of sediment from the roadbed and bridge erosion that they felt contributed to the results. Reduction in sediment would assist in the overall water quality of the Hamlin Lake watershed.
Dennis Creek is stream in flux; while small in nature; it has the potential to negatively impact downstream water ecology. Clay soils stay in suspension longer than sand soils due to their small particle size. Sand particles are larger and heavier and tend to fall out of suspension typically within river beds. Sedimentation was identified as a major threat to the ecology of the Big Sable River Watershed in the Hamlin Lake Watershed Management Plan approved by MDEQ in 1999. In 2002, MDEQ conducted a qualitative biological survey of the Big Sable River System, which included a sampling station at the road crossing in Dennis Creek. This station had the lowest macroinvertebrate score and the lowest habitat rating of all seven stations. Biologists observed very turbid water conditions and significant inputs of sediment from the roadbed and bridge erosion that they felt contributed to the results. Reduction in sediment would assist in the overall water quality of the Hamlin Lake watershed.
The Mason-Lake Conservation District in conjunction with the Mason County Road Commission have applied for grants through the Great Lakes Commission to asphalt the slopes and install an integral curb to control road water runoff. Diversion outlets will be constructed to direct road runoff into settling areas away from the creek. The overall goal of the project would have been to reduce the sediment loading into Dennis Creek and the bayou by nearly 120 tons per year.
   
Dennis Creek is also a large agricultural watershed that drains many acres of farmland and pastureland. Farmers have been installing waterways, erosion control structures and filter strips for many years in an effort to reduce erosion. However, continued conservation efforts such as cover crops, riparian forest buffers and reduced tillage operations could be implemented to assist in limiting the transport of sediment on cropped fields.
   
     
JClark4626@aol.com Hamlin Lake Preservation Society PO Box 178, Ludington, MI 49431