A Collaborative Approach to Understanding the Dynamics of the Muskegon Watershed: A Comprehensive Model, Risk Assessment and Tools for Use in Management
Mike Wiley, University of Michigan
Catherine Riseng, University of Michigan
Bryan C. Pijanowski, Purdue University
David Hyndman, Michigan State University
John Koches, Grand Valley State University
Paul Seelbach, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Institute for Fisheries Research
We will combine the considerable wealth of data, experience, and tools, that already exist in Michigan through ongoing efforts at the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Grand Valley State University and their research partners in state government (MDEQ, MDNR) to assess current status and future risks facing the Muskegon River Watershed (see Figure 1). This collaborative effort would be unique, and would draw upon diverse talents in many different organizations. Building on existing data, models, and management tools, we will produce a system-wide model that will be used to perform risk assessment for the Muskegon River Watershed. This model will be made available to a variety of agencies and stakeholders as a decision tool to explore various management options. We intend to coordinate our outreach to watershed stakeholders by building on the current efforts underway as a part of the present Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) 319 Nonpoint Source Project, and through current outreach and education programs of GVSU, MSU Extension and the MDNR.
Key Questions being Addressed:
The fundamental question addressed by this proposal is "how does the Muskegon River system work?" The answer can only lie in an analysis that is basin wide, and capable of integrating the substantive detail of the hydrologic, geomorphic, ecologic and social systems in play. Beyond the development of a process-based ecosystem model, we will also address current and future impacts of three potential stressors identified during initial discussions of the Partnership Meeting of August 2000.
These stressors of concern included: (1) urban development, (2) bank erosion and channel sedimentation, and (3) modification of the river hydrologic regime and habitat fragmentation by impoundments.These will be the primary management issues with which we will shape and exercise our basin wide modeling system.
Approach and Anticipated Outcomes:
Specific outcomes that we expect are: (1) a new integration of existing model(s) that can serve as the basis for discussion, hypothesis testing and further research development; (2) a formal risk assessment that examines the relative severity of important issues facing the watershed including urban sprawl, bank erosion and channel sedimentation, and river impoundment; (3) a linkage of process-based models to ecological/economic services assessment, and (4) a number of internet-based tools and model products. These outcomes will benefit all citizens of the watershed and help to advance the science of comprehensive integrated assessment of watersheds. We believe that our approach is transferable to other watersheds in the Great Lakes.
Specific issues that we are addressing in the project were identified by a group of stakeholders in the watershed composed of local and state government officials, members of not-for-profit organizations, federal government agency personnel and watershed interest groups. A meeting in the Fall of 2001 was held at the Annis Water Research Station located in Muskegon, Michigan. A photo from that meeting is provided here:
Models that we expect to couple together to understand the dynamics of the Muskegon River Watershed are shown in Figure 1 below.
We are using several different modeling approaches to couple land use, climate, hydrology and biological response models. Land use/cover change is being projected forward under the constraint of a set of hierarchically organized scenarios:
The relationship between stakeholder input and modeling activities as they map to project timelines are illistrated here:
Preliminary Results (as of Spring 2007) :
The land use projections as of Spring 2007 look like this:
which for the above represent some of the the "base" maps. Projections for these regions using three different look like this for 2070:
One set of scenarios is being developed to determine what the impact might be on hydrology and biota if current urban were removed from the set back areas. Here is a map that illistrates removal of urban from 300m setbacks along the Muskegon River:
We are using a vareity of spatial integration approaches to link the land use change model with hydrologic and biologic models. One of the approaches is to use the Valley Segment Ecological Classification (VSEC) units as modeling compartments. Here is a schematic of these results iluustrating SRP loading across the watershed for the time periods 1980 (represented by presettlement vegetation, 1978, represented by statewide MiRIS and 2040 LTM forecasts).
To learn more, visit the official web site at the University of Michigan.
Funding for this project has come from the Great Lakes Fisheries Trust and the Wege Foundation. To learn more about the Great Lakes Fisheries Trust, visit them on the web.
One of the key web sites for the project (including several others funded under the Muskegon River Initiative) can be found at the Muskegon Watershed Research Partnership web site. You can also learn more about the project at the bulletin site.
Last updated March 7, 2011