Urban Creek in Flint River Watershed Gets Makeover

Urban Creek in Flint River Watershed Gets Makeover

A creek that was channelized and has been buried for decades in Flint, Michigan is close to being completely restored. Returning the creek to its natural state will control flooding and create a natural and scenic waterway in an urban setting. But this isn’t your typical restoration project. Everything about the project is being done as “green” as possible.

Construction equipment, which runs on biodiesel fuels, comes from within 150 miles of the project. Everything possible is being recycled onsite such as tree stumps that are returned to the water as fish habitat, a former bridge that is getting a new home at a nearby park, and broken concrete that will become erosion blocks. The project is restoring about 2,500 feet of stream bank and creating a pond to provide flood water storage and wildlife habitat. A 12-acre wetlands meadow will absorb stormwater run-off with native plants to filter contaminants and provide additional habitat for fish and other wildlife.

Once the plantings have had a year or so to get established, planners hope to add a creekside bike path connected to the Flint River Trail. Not only are they eliminating flood problems, they’re creating a usable park and environmental education center right in the heart of the city.

The $2-million Gilkey Creek project is being supported by the Ruth Mott Foundation. Project partners include the Center for Applied Environmental Research at the University of Michigan-Flint and the Flint River Watershed Coalition. “Its very exciting watching this creek come back to life” stated Rebecca Fedewa, Executive Director of the Flint River Watershed Coalition. “Volunteers for the Flint River Watershed Coalition have been monitoring the project to assess the stream’s recovery. We are already seeing good signs that the creek habitat is recovering. And it proved itself in weathering the big storms, easily handling a week of heavy rains this fall that in previous years would have resulted in massive flooding.” For more information on the project, contact Rebecca Fedewa with the Flint River Watershed Coalition at rfedewa@flintriver.org.



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Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.