Stabilizing Bull Creek Reduces Erosion,

Improves Wetland Habitat

Bull Creek’s streambed and banks were stabilized, preventing erosion and reducing sediment pollution in wetland habitats and Lake Michigan.

Description

North of Chicago, Bull Creek flows into the wetlands of Illinois Beach State Park, which provide crucial habitat for several threatened species of migratory birds. The area surrounding Bull Creek before it flows into Lake Michigan is heavily developed due to its proximity to Chicago. When it rains, the paved surfaces nearby produce extremely fast and heavy stormwater runoff. This extreme runoff has eroded the streambed and stream banks of Bull Creek, resulting in heavy sediment and nutrient pollution that threatens the health of Illinois Beach State Park and degrades Lake Michigan’s water quality.

Thanks to a grant from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Lake County was able to stabilize Bull Creek and reduce sediment and nutrient pollution. Workers carefully placed and positioned stones throughout the stream to slow down water flow and reduce erosion. Workers also enhanced and restored 2.3 acres of stream habitat. They removed invasive plants and planted native vegetation, and cleared dead ash trees to allow the native seeds to germinate. They also removed accumulated debris in Bull Creek’s floodplain. Primary construction concluded in December 2017, and Lake County plans to conduct two years of post-construction maintenance on the project site.

Resource Challenges Addressed

  • Erosion
  • Sedimentation
  • Nutrient pollution
  • Lack of wetland habitat
  • Poor water quality

 

BULL CREEK STABILIZATION

A creek running through a forested area

Bull Creek now has stabilized banks with native plants to hold sediment in place, which reduces runoff into Lake Michigan. Credit: Lake County Stormwater Management Commission.

Results and Accomplishments

This project stabilized streambeds and 490 linear feet of stream banks. This restoration reduced erosion and nutrient pollution that degraded wetland habitat and water quality in Lake Michigan. The project also enhanced 2.3 acres of stream habitat by planting native vegetation that stabilized soil on the riverbanks. Lake County expects these stabilization efforts to reduce nutrient pollution more than 6 percent and sediment runoff by 36.4 percent, annually. The cumulative benefits will reduce substantially increase water quality in Bull Creek and Lake Michigan.