The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay received two substantial grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) and one from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ (MDNR) Fisheries Habitat Grant Program totaling nearly $1.3 million. These state and federal grant funds will be used to reduce stormwater inputs into Grand Traverse Bay from the Village of Northport and re-establish a woody riparian buffer and provide floodplain connection along a section of Kids Creek near Silver Lake Road in Traverse City.

“We are excited and grateful to receive our first MDNR Fisheries Habitat Grant Program award,” said Sarah U’Ren, program director at The Watershed Center. “Additionally, we are happy to receive more funding from the EPA through impactful GLRI funds. We will use these investments to improve habitat along Kids Creek in Traverse City and reduce the harmful impact of stormwater to Grand Traverse Bay in the Village of Northport and Kids Creek.”

A $518,564 GLRI grant will be used to reduce stormwater inputs to Grand Traverse Bay in the Village of Northport from the Main Street Stormdrain that outlets next to a heavily used public beach. A large underground infiltration trench will be installed under the Northport Public School’s parking lot and an area of bioretention will be installed along Main Street. Construction is planned for summer 2023. “The goal of this project is to reduce the volume of stormwater and its associated pollution inputs to Grand Traverse Bay near swimming beaches, which we will accomplish by using green infrastructure systems including underground infiltration and bioretention,” U’Ren continued.

“The Great Lakes are irreplaceable, supplying drinking water for more than 40 million people, supporting 1.3 million jobs and sustaining life for thousands of species,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Debra Shore. “That’s why the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the projects and partnerships it supports are so important.”

A $600,000 GLRI grant will be paired with $149,200 of funding from the MDNR to implement streamside conservation practices that improve water quality and reduce stormwater, sediment, and nutrient inputs into Kids Creek, an impaired stream in the Grand Traverse Bay watershed.  Specifically, the riparian area along a 4,800-foot section of Kids Creek and its tributaries upstream of Silver Lake Road will be restored by re-establishing a woody riparian buffer and providing additional floodplain connections in the tributaries. Additionally, a one-acre wetland will be constructed to intercept stormwater runoff from the Meijer parking lot, treating 1.1 million gallons of stormwater a year. This project complements current green infrastructure installments in the Meijer parking lot funded through a $750,000 grant The Watershed Center received from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. Construction for these projects is slated for fall 2022 and will continue into the spring and summer of 2023.

“These projects are all part of our large-scale Kids Creek Restoration Project with the goal of restoring and improving water quality in Kids Creek to remove it from the State’s Impaired Waters List,” U’Ren says. “They complement previous green infrastructure installations at Munson Medical Center, Grand Traverse Pavilions, and the Village at Grand Traverse Commons, as well as five road crossing improvements completed just last year.”

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