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York Creek Management Plan - Preface

The issues surrounding water quality are intertwined within the daily lives of every person, yet our water resources often receive little from us in the way of protection until a crises arises. Few if any actions were taken to protect the Cuyahoga River in Ohio until it became so polluted that it caught fire. While the current degraded conditions of York Creek obviously do not reach those proportions, a credible analogy does exist.

York Creek is listed as a coldwater stream in the Southern Michigan Northern Indiana Till Plains ecoregion, and as such is expected to support a trout population. The stream has produced trout in the past, and in 1969 the stream was described by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources as maintaining a good trout population. Twenty-five years later, however, there are no trout in York Creek. There are few other species as well, especially those that are indicative of healthy water and habitat quality. This localized destruction of species was not an overnight occurrence, but relative to the age of the stream, it was an extremely rapid change.

Concentrated development in near proximity to the stream and its tributaries have significantly altered the hydrology, morphology, water chemistry, habitat quality and quantity, and biological diversity of York Creek. These descriptors can be collectively referred to as water quality. Only after the stream had been rendered little more than a stormwater conveyance system were actions taken in its defense. As with the now healthier Cuyahoga, the future of York Creek is not bleak. The creation of the York Creek Watershed Project is the first step in the revival of one of Kent County's treasured natural resources. The project is a cooperative effort between Grand Valley State University's Water Resources Institute and Alpine Charter Township. It is funded through Section 319 of the Clean Water Act and administered by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The results of the one year study to determine the current conditions and recommend restoration measures are included in two documents: The York Creek Watershed Project Watershed Management Plan, and A Technical Supplement to the York Creek Watershed Project Watershed Management Plan. These documents describe the current degraded condition of York Creek and plan for its return as a valued natural resource.

Page last modified January 19, 2011