Paddling on Portage Creek (Hell Creek)

With a grant from the U.S. EPA and the state of Michigan, we led the efforts to develop the first-ever watershed management plan for Portage Creek – or Hell Creek as it’s sometimes called. Yes, you could say we’ve been to Hell and back. Really, we’ve made some friends for the creek along the way who will be important in making the plan a living document. More than 200 people attended meetings, collected stream data, and contributed their experiences to the planning process.

What we found during the two-year project is a fairly high-quality creek that is situated in one of the most beautiful watersheds in Southeast Michigan. This watershed is home to the Pinckney State Recreation Area and many other protected lands – and to scores of rare plants and animals.

Unlike the other watershed plans in the Huron that focus on reducing pollution, this plan stresses the importance of protecting local freshwater resources. But with threats on the horizon from altered hydrology, excess nutrients, and sediment if development proceeds unchecked, the communities and watershed partners in this area will need to follow the plan’s recommendations to preserve the creek and their quality of life. The project also produced new studies and reports for stream flow, hydrology, wetlands, stream corridors, along with policy benchmarks and recommendations for the seven local communities.

State-approval of the plan is pending and, once received, will allow the communities, HRWC, and other partners to apply for grant monies to protect this remarkable part of the Huron River watershed.