The Huron-Clinton Metroparks contain two large inland lakes, Kent Lake and Stony Creek Lake, along with several smaller lakes and ponds. Two of the Metroparks, Lake Erie and Metro Beach, are situated on the shores of two of the largest lakes in the Midwest, Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair. In addition to supporting abundant wildlife, these lakes also provide opportunities for recreation such as fishing, swimming, and boating.
All natural lakes in our area, including the Great Lakes, were formed by glaciers that gouged holes in the landscape, deposited material that blocked river channels, or left behind ice chunks which formed depressions and melted. Lakes also vary in terms of light levels, temperature, current, and nutrients. The differences in a lake’s physical environment, which occur between lakes and even within a single lake, create diverse habitats that support an incredible array of plants, fish, insects, and other wildlife that often go unnoticed beneath a lake’s surface.
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The Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority (Metroparks) has implemented a stormwater management program to reduce the discharge of pollutants to the Waters of the State within its jurisdiction. This plan has been developed to fulfill the requirements for Part I. Section B of the State of Michigan’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Permit (MIS049000) for Stormwater Discharges from Separate Storm Water Drainage Systems (MS4s). Although it operates under a Jurisdictional Permit, the HCMA has been participating in the watershed planning process with the Stony/Paint Creek, Lower Huron and Kent Lake Sub-watershed Groups.The Metroparks has property within both the Huron and Clinton River Watersheds and the Stormwater Management Plan (SWMP) has been implemented within the requested area of coverage as determined by the urbanized areas outlined in the General Permit.
The purpose of the SWMP is to develop a program to implement the six minimum measures as required by the General Permit which include:
- Public Education Plan (PEP)
- Public Involvement and Participation Plan (PIP)
- Illicit Discharge Elimination Plan (IDEP)
- Post Construction Stormwater Management Program for New Development and Redevelopment Projects
- Construction Storm Water Runoff Control
- Pollution Prevention / Good Housekeeping for Municipal Operations
These six minimum measures are designed to minimize the negative impacts or reduce discharge of pollutants within the stormwater conveyances of the Metroparks to the Maximum Extent Possible (MEP).
The most recent Metroparks Stormwater Management Plan (SWMP) is available to view by clicking here.
Additional information about Stormwater is available from:
- Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)
- Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG)
- Clinton River Watershed Council
- Huron River Watershed Council
You can help keep our waters clean!
Protecting our environment often begins in our own backyards. Many of our everyday activities can have a negative impact on the health of our freshwater ecosystems, though we may not realize it. Here are 6 simple steps you can take at home to keep our lakes and rivers clean. Read below for some additional tips.
Household hazardous waste: During rain events, water that flows over the surface of the soil to lakes and streams is called runoff. As runoff makes its way to its final destination in water bodies, it may pick up a variety of materials that are hazardous to the health of the public and the environment. This material may come from a number of sources, including waste that was improperly disposed of. To reduce the amount of hazardous waste reaching our lakes and streams during storm events, please dispose of your household hazardous waste (such as paint, solvents, and used motor oil) properly. Visit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment’s webpage for information on how to safely dispose of your waste.
Pesticides and fertilizers: Runoff may also originate in lawns and agricultural fields that have been fertilized or treated with pesticides. These chemicals have the ability to harm aquatic wildlife and stimulate the growth of algae, which degrades water quality.Visit the links below to learn how you can best manage pesticides and fertilizers to reduce the amount of these chemicals that run off your property.
Car care: A final source of polluted runoff comes from an activity that is often overlooked – washing your car. When you wash your car in your driveway, the dirt you wash off may be mixed with salt, motor oil, and other road contaminants. These contaminants, along with the detergent in the soap you use, will wash down the street (possibly picking up additional pollutants) and into storm drains, which flow to rivers. For tips on ways to wash your car in a more environmentally friendly way, visit the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments’ website below.
Maintain Your Septic System
In addition to runoff, leakage from septic systems may also contaminate our freshwater resources. Septic tanks that are improperly maintained may leak sewage, either directly into surface water, or into groundwater, which eventually runs to lakes and streams. Refer to the EPA’s website to learn how you can ensure your septic system is working properly.
Guidance for Food Service Waste Disposal
Food service facilities should be especially careful when disposing of chemicals, grease, and wash water. Liquid wastes should never be poured down storm drains, and grease, fats, and oils should be collected and sent to an industrial waste hauler or disposed of using a dry method. The MDNRE’s website provides further information.
Report an Illicit Discharge
Help us keep our Lakes and Streams pristine! If you see any water drainage within the Metroparks ditches, streams, ponds or lakes that does not appear normal (the water has odd odor, color, consistency, ect.), please report what you saw using the contact form below. You should include information on location, time and any other information that will help the Metroparks investigate the area of concern. If possible, include a name and daytime phone number so we may contact you if we have any questions. If you prefer, you may call (810) 227-2757 during normal business hours to report the concern.
One of the largest inland lakes in Southeast Michigan, 1200-acre Kent Lake is an impoundment of the Huron River. Contained largely within Kensington Metropark, Kent Lake’s natural shoreline with abundant woody debris provides optimal habitat for a variety of plants, fish, and aquatic invertebrates.
Kent Lake reaches 26 feet deep in the southeast end of the lake, but the majority of the lake is less than 10 feet deep. The lake supports at least 28 species of fish and 24 aquatic plant species. Unfortunately, several invasive species can be found in Kent Lake, including curly leaf pondweed, Eurasian watermilfoil, and starry stonewort. By growing and spreading rapidly, these species threaten to degrade fish and wildlife habitat and suppress recreational boating activity.
Kent Lake is a popular destination for anglers, who primarily seek bluegill, crappie, and bass. The lake also supports populations of northern pike and walleye, which have been supplemented by stockings by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Swimming, sailing, and paddling are also popular recreational activities on Kent Lake.
Click here to see a map of fishing locations on Kent Lake.
Learn more about natural shoreline restoration on Kent Lake.
Stony Creek Lake
Stony Creek Lake
The second-largest lake in the Huron-Clinton Metroparks at 500 acres, Stony Creek Lake is fed by Stony Creek, a small tributary of the Clinton River. Because it is contained within Stony Creek Metropark, most of the lake’s shoreline is natural and there is no residential development.
There are at least 22 species of fish and 14 aquatic plant species in Stony Creek Lake. The lake reaches 23 feet deep, but most areas are relatively shallow. The variable bottom substrate, which includes sand, gravel, clay, and organic matter, provides critical habitat for a variety of fish and plant species as well as countless aquatic invertebrates.
Unfortunately, several invasive species have become established in Stony Creek Lake, including zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil, and starry stonewort. A reduction of Eurasian watermilfoil cover in 2006 has resulted in some recovery of the native aquatic plant community.
Stony Creek Lake is known for its exceptional fishing. Bluegill, crappie, and largemouth bass are popular targets for anglers, along with channel catfish, northern pike, and walleye. Channel catfish and walleye populations are supplemented by periodic stockings by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The 10 mph speed limit on the lake adds to Stony Creek Lake’s appeal for anglers, paddlers, and other passive recreational users.
Click Boating & Fishing Guide [PDF] to see a map of fishing locations on Stony Creek Lake.
Lake St. Clair
Lake St. Clair
Part of the Great Lakes system, Lake St. Clair is situated between Lake Huron and Lake Erie. It is primarily fed by the St. Clair River and empties into Lake Erie via the Detroit River. Also, the Clinton River empties into Lake St. Clair near Metro Beach Metropark. Lake St. Clair has an average depth of only about 11 feet, very shallow for its large size.
Much of the land around the Lake St. Clair is highly urbanized, which has contributed to wetland loss and degraded water quality. The remaining wetlands around the lake provide critical habitat for migrating shorebirds and waterfowl. At Metro Beach Metropark, about 275 species of resident and migratory birds have been recorded. Lake St. Clair is a very popular fishing destination. Anglers frequently target smallmouth and largemouth bass, muskellunge, northern pike, and walleye.
Lake Erie, the fourth-largest of the Great Lakes, is situated between Lake St. Clair and Lake Ontario. Lake Erie Metropark sits near the mouth of the Detroit River at the northwest end of Lake Erie. The Huron River, which flows through 10 of the Metroparks, also empties into Lake Erie at Lake Erie Metropark.
Lake Erie became highly polluted in the 1960s and 1970s by phosphorus runoff from nearby agriculture. The increased nutrient load in the water created algal blooms, which depleted oxygen in the water and led to massive fish kills. Additional pollutants from heavy industry compounded the problem. Aided by the passage of the Clean Water Act of 1972, Lake Erie’s water quality has improved dramatically and the lake again supports important recreational and commercial fisheries, including walleye and perch. Today, in addition to some continual nutrient pollution, the greatest threats to Lake Erie’s ecology are exotic invasive species, including the zebra mussel, quagga mussel, and round goby.
Aquatic Invasive Species
Aquatic Invasive Species
An invasive species is an organism that does not naturally occur in a specific area and whose introduction causes ecological or economic harm. Aquatic invasive species are one of the greatest threats to the ecological health of our lakes and rivers. They can spread rapidly and degrade habitat for native fish and other wildlife and reduce recreational opportunities.
One of the primary ways aquatic invasive species spread is by being accidentally transported on boats and equipment used by boaters, anglers, and other recreational water users.
The most problematic aquatic invasive species in the Metroparks’ lakes and rivers are listed below.
- Zebra Mussel
Zebra mussels are small, striped mussels that are native to the Caspian Sea region of Asia. They were first discovered in the Great Lakes in 1988, probably introduced by oceangoing ships that emptied ballast water into the lakes. Since that time, zebra mussels have spread throughout the Great Lakes and into many of Michigan’s inland lakes and streams. They are voracious filter feeders that clear the water of microscopic plankton, which is the main food source for juvenile fish. They are also troublesome because they attach themselves to hard surfaces as they grow and their colonies often clog water intake pipes and foul the hulls of boats.
- Quagga Mussel
Quagga mussels are small striped mussels that are native to the Caspian Sea region of Asia. They were first discovered in the Great Lakes in 1989, probably introduced by oceangoing ships that emptied ballast water into the lakes. Since that time, Quagga mussels have spread throughout the Great Lakes, into Michigan’s inland lakes and streams, and in western states such as Colorado and Nevada. They are voracious filter feeders that clear the water of microscopic plankton, which is the main food source for juvenile fish. They are also troublesome because they attach themselves to hard surfaces as they grow and their colonies often clog water intake pipes and foul the hulls of boats.
- Eurasian Watermilfoil
Eurasian watermilfoil is an aquatic plant that was introduced to Michigan from Europe between the 1950s and the 1980s. It thrives in nutrient-rich water, where it forms dense mats that choke out native vegetation and interferes with recreational water use. The success of the plant is due to its ability to spread by means of runners and stem fragments. A small piece of Eurasian watermilfoil that is accidentally introduced into a new body of water can produce an entirely new colony.
- Curly Leaf Pondweed
Curly leaf pondweed is an aquatic plant that was introduced to Michigan from Eurasia in the mid-1800s possibly with the introduction of the common carp. It thrives in nutrient-rich water, where it forms dense mats that choke out native vegetation and interferes with recreational water use. The success of this plant is due to its unique growing season early-spring to mid-summer which allows it to out compete native pondweeds and vegetative reproduction. Die-offs of large populations can cause nutrient loading and reduce oxygen levels in invaded water bodies.
- Starry Stonewort
Starry stonewort is not a true plant but is a microalgae which are early ancestors of plants. It was introduced in the St. Lawrence River in 1978 by oceangoing ships that emptied ballast water and has since spread to the Great Lakes and Michigan’s inland lakes. It forms thick mats which prevent the growth of native aquatic plants and can tolerate low nutrient and light levels.
- Round Goby
The round goby is a bottom-dwelling fish that was introduced to the Great Lakes in 1990 by transoceanic ships. It is an insatiable feeder that out-competes native fish for food and spawning habitat. It can also survive in a variety of environments, including bodies of water with degraded water quality. Native fish populations in the Great Lakes have suffered as a result of the goby’s aggressive behavior and its disruption of normal ecosystem functioning.
- Eurasian Ruffe
The Eurasian ruffe is a small, spiny perch that is native to Eurasia. It was introduced to the Great Lakes in the 1980s via the ballast water of transoceanic ships. Like the goby, the ruffe is an aggressive feeder that is capable of reproducing quickly, which allows it to outcompete and displace native fish.
- Spiny and Fishhook Water Flea
The spiny and fishhook water fleas are small crustaceans that are native to Great Britain and northern Europe. The spiny water flea was first found in the Great Lakes in 1984, and the fishhook water flea was discovered in 1998. They were probably deposited into the Great Lakes in the ballast water of transoceanic ships. Both these species compete with young fish for food, but it is unclear what the long-term effects of these invaders will be.