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Seeley Creek Habitat Restoration

As water quality in the Rouge River continues to improve, the Seeley Creek Habitat Restoration project will build on past efforts to restore some of the damage done during the last century. Tributaries of the Rouge River have suffered from loss and impairment of aquatic habitat and increased frequency and magnitude of flood flows, primarily due to increasing urbanization within the watershed. The flat river slope and the meandering channel can not pass the large flows associated with rain events. Upstream urbanization continues to exacerbate this problem as runoff from increased amounts of impervious surfaces culminates in flooding within the river system, bank erosion, and continued habitat degradation. The project will create habitat in the creek and adjacent floodplain by stabilizing the streambed, eroding banks, and adding stream substrate. Invasive species management will be conducted to increase diversity of native plant species. The project will provide habitat for fish and aquatic species as well as improve habitat for birds, amphibian and terrestrial species.

In 2008 a morphological monitoring and assessment demonstrated that a portion of Seeley Drain was morphologically unstable due to entrenchment, and that habitat diversity was low due to a lack of coarse substrates, lack of stable woody debris, and lack of pool habitat. Based on this assessment, the project design will include resectioning of the upstream portion to create natural bankfull dimensions and floodplain terraces on one or both sides of the drain. Resectioning the channel will reduce channel velocity and erosive forces, resulting in more stable banks, less sediment loading, and more stable aquatic habitat. After resectioning, the channel and flood terraces will be stabilized using native vegetation and bioengineering practices.

The design intends to include the addition of 30+ grade control structures using coarse river aggregates and woody debris to control bed erosion, create pool habitat. Course substrates will be added to provide diversity to the creek bed. Grade control structures such as artificial riffles will result in increased habitat diversity by directly adding coarse substrates, promoting natural sediment sorting(creating deposits of coarse debris), increasing flow velocity heterogeneity, and creating pool habitat. The overall stability of the aquatic habitats will be improved by reducing flow energy and bed/bank erosion. These efforts will result in 1,600 feet of restored/improved stream habitat.

In addition, restoration of approximately 5 acres of riparian wetland areas will be designed and implemented. The wetlands have been impaired by hydrological alteration and invasive species colonization. Erosional gullies have formed through the wetlands, which is promoting their drainage, decreasing their hydroperiod, and encouraging loss of native vegetation and establishment of invasive species. These conditions also impair their water quality function by preventing or reducing naturally filtering processes. To restore the wetlands, the gullies will be filled, and stabilized, invasive species will be treated and managed using the most effective means available, and native wetland species will be planted.

Funding and Parnters

This project was funded by the U. S. EPA Great Lakes National Program Office with an approximately $815,000 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grant to the Alliance of Rouge Communities for design and implementation in 2019 (Grant # GL-00E02700-1) Partners in this project include the U.S. EPA, GLRI, ARC, and the Oakland County Water Resources Commissioners Office

Where and When

Seeley Creek is located in the City of Farmington Hills, Michigan and is a tributary of the Upper Branch of the Rouge River. Project design began in 2019 with construction anticipated in spring 2023.

Anticipated Outcomes

Improved channel stability and reduce erosion & sedimentation Improved aquatic habitat diversity and stability Provided important aquatic habitat for redside dace, a Michigan endangered species Improved wetland habitat diversity & function Public education opportunities

Photo History of Project:

Conditions Before Restoration

Large flows associated with rain events has caused flooding within the river system, bank erosion and continued habitat degradation

Bank erosion associated with large flows from rain events.

Conceptual design.

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