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Bear Lake is a moderately to highly eutrophic lake that has high levels of total phosphorus (TP) and summer blooms of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae). Phosphorus source control is essential for the restoration of Bear Lake and removal of the Eutrophication and Undesirable Algae Beneficial Use Impairment (BUI) for the Muskegon Lake Area of Concern (AOC). Given the importance of Bear Creek as a major external source of TP loads to Bear Lake, controlling phosphorus from this tributary will provide a significant benefit for Bear Lake.
Abandoned muck farms used for celery production, but now converted into shallow ponds, are adjacent to Bear Creek just before it enters Bear Lake (see red outlined area in map on right). Given their location and past land use, these muck fields likely contain very high levels of phosphorus and are a plausible source of phosphorus to Bear Lake. Indeed, a recent study found that similarly converted celery fields located upstream of Mona Lake, another drowned river mouth system in Muskegon County, contributed a significant load of TP to Mona Lake via levee breaches.
Restoration plans within the Muskegon Lake AOC include the hydrologic reconnection of these flooded fields with Bear Creek and improved wetland habitat. We are assisting with the restoration effort through 2 projects:
Maggie Oudsema collecting a sediment core for phosphorus characterization.
Al Steinman retrieving pore water samplers (i.e., peepers) after a 2-week incubation.
Mary Ogdahl measuring water quality with a YSI sonde.
Reports & Publications
Smit, James T. 2014. Wetland Sediment Nutrient Flux in Response to Proposed Hydrologic Reconnection and Climate Warming. Master's Thesis. Paper 733. http://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/theses/733
Steinman, A.D., and M.E. Ogdahl. 2013. Muskegon Lake AOC Habitat Restoration Design: Bear Lake Hydrologic Reconnection/Wetland Restoration. Final Project Report. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Steinman, A.D., and M.E. Ogdahl. 2014. Muskegon Lake Area of Concern Stakeholder Involvement and BUI Removal Project: Bear Lake Wetland Restoration Area Monitoring. Final Project Report. Great Lakes Commission.
Funding for the first study (sediment characterization) was provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Funding for the second study (pre-restoration monitoring) was provided by the Great Lakes Commission.
West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission (WMSRDC)