North Maumee Bottomlands Restoration

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Project Summary

In order to achieve a more sustainable, resilient coastal wetland system, The Nature Conservancy has developed a pilot project design for innovative, adaptable lakebed restoration that will be “climate smart” by providing a means to counteract fluctuations in lake levels and future drought conditions. The project will re-establish historical landforms and wetlands that will help to improve the water quality and reduce turbidity in North Maumee Bay.

Implementing such a plan will involve:

  • Sedimentation traps and barriers to create a peninsula of land that will protect a portion of the northern bay from turbidity, thereby improving water quality
  • Establishing emergent and submerged vegetation through the use of sediment islands and floating islands of vegetation

 

This pilot project will also serve as a means to assess the feasibility of several strategies for rehabilitation of coastal wetlands in other portions of North Maumee Bay and the Great Lakes.

Over the past 150 years heavy industrialization and urbanization of the Western Lake Erie watershed has altered coastal wetlands and processes in and around North Maumee Bay. Changes include:

  • Increased amounts and rates of sediments flowing into the lake
  • Increased nutrient loading modification of the patterns of nearshore currents
  • Interrupted longshore transport patterns of sand
  • Fluctuating lake levels and sediment distribution patterns also alter patterns of erosion and deposition

 

These changes will likely be made worse by climate change, which is expected to cause more unpredictable lake-level fluctuations in the Great Lakes and is altering water temperatures and wind and wave patterns.

Historically, to deal with these changes, managers constructed dikes around wetlands in Western Lake Erie and installed water management systems to control water levels. However, as these dikes erode, they will ultimately fail. Without these “managed” systems, coastal wetland areas within the perimeter dikes will become open water habitat.

We anticipate that restoration will commence pending completion of engineering analysis, consultation with Michigan Department of Environmental Quality on permitting feasibility, and securing the necessary funding.

Key partners: Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Consumers Energy, Environmental Consulting & Technology, Inc.

Contact: Chris May | 517.316.2274

 

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