Conservation Resource Alliance
Call 231-946-6817


Carp River Watershed Assessment

February 1, 2005

General Description of Carp River Watershed
The Carp River is a small, high quality watershed located in northern Emmet County. The Carp River has approximately 10.5 miles of mainstream with one small tributary, West Branch Creek, near its outlet. The watershed drains ( coming from LIAA) acres. The river originates in Paradise Lake, located in eastern Carp Lake Township of Emmet County. The eastern end of Paradise Lake lies in Cheboygan County and is fed by Mud Creek. A dam at the lake's west end outlets to form the Carp River, which then flows west and north to its outlet into northern Lake Michigan near the Straits of Mackinac. A second, small dam is located near the outlet. Land ownership is a mix of State of Michigan, private, and Emmet County, which owns nearly 1,000 acres on the east side of the river at its outlet.

The Carp River provides only marginal habitat for resident brook trout (and probably other species), but has good runs of anadromous salmonids, including pink salmon and steelhead. Although it is a small stream, it has "flashy" water flow, and during times of high water, it is periodically visited by canoeists and kayakers. Also, in 1998, the Hungerford's crawling water beetle (Brychius hungerfordi), a federally endangered species, was discovered on the Carp River. The North Country Trail crosses the river near its outlet.

Problems
The Carp watershed is in good shape at present time, with limited problems. Undersized or deteriorating road crossings, especially on sand/gravel roads, are the most notable current problem on the Carp. There are also a number of medium to large beaver dams, which can warm the water temperature and cause erosion. Land development is increasing throughout the watershed, and presents the predominant threat to the future of the watershed. In the absence of protective zoning ordinances and master plans, development will cause fragmentation of wildlife habitat (one of the most important ecological roles the Carp serves is probably wildlife corridors), loss of protective wetlands and forested land, and additional issues of nonpoint source pollution to the waterway.

Ecological Corridors in the Watershed
Wildlife corridors are an important attribute of the Carp River watershed. The river and watershed provide an important connection between the Dingman Swamp area and Wilderness State Park, near the outlet of the river. Beginning in 1998, the Northern Michigan Wolf Detection and Habitat Survey Team has searched for wolf kills in the watershed. The Carp River watershed also lies very near the French Farm Lake flooding area to the east. The lower half of the river corridor contains good wood duck habitat.

Local Support of the Carp River
While no formalized "friends" group exists for the small Carp River watershed, there are several groups that have had active interest for a number of years, including: Paradise Lake Association, Mackinaw Forest Council, Little Traverse Bay Band, Emmet County, Carp Lake Township, North Country Trail Association, Little Traverse Conservancy, Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, and a number of local property owners or recreationists who use the Carp River.

Grants include support from the River Care program under the Conservation Resource Alliance, funded by the Frey Foundation. Funds will be used to provide technical assistance and support a demonstration project for the Carp River in 1999-2000.

Accomplishments to Date
• North Country Trail Association installed new bridge in 1998-1999
• Private land protection, including a 50-acre point in Paradise Lake that is an eagle nesting platform
• Hungerford's Beetle observations
• Paradise Lake is included in DNR's walleye management program and is regularly planted
• Paradise Lake is considered one of the few "bright spots" for successful treatment of Eurasian Milfoil using the weevil

Inventoried Problem Sites
The Carp River watershed does not have significant point source or agriculture impacts. With clayey soils common in the watershed, sedimentation is not severe with a few isolated exceptions.

Primary problems in the watershed are:
1. Road crossings and road runoff (refer to road crossing inventory)
2. Beaver dams that slow and warm the otherwise fast-flowing water (a Fall 2000 wade of the entire stream located 8 beaver dams (up to 5 or 6 feet high), several of which were abandoned
3. Recreational use at the mouth area where improvements are needed (refer to road crossing inventory Site 8,
4. Old structures (docks, remnant crossings) impede flow, including one very large obstruction of woody debris south of the North Country Trail bridge
5. Development in the watershed that threatens to fragment wildlife corridors and/or directly impact water quality

Other problems or issues:
• Dam at Paradise Lake outlet - no legal lake level has been established, and operation and maintenance responsibility is not clear
• Local interest in planting walleye in Paradise Lake
• Active and planned land splits and development in the watershed
• Little Traverse Bay Band has been collecting hourly temperatures at the mouth of the river since 1999
• Small dam near outlet is not maintained or functional, may cause minor warming and erosion, and impedes fish passage during low water level conditions
• Legal navigability status of the river is unclear, saw logs have been observed in the corridor, which normally classifies the stream as navigable
• Unauthorized camping in the French Farm Lake area and unauthorized motor vehicle access in the wetlands between French Farm Creek and Cecil Bay Road (DNR Forest Management is working on this.)
• Lampreys have been trapped and counted since 1979 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at a weir constructed as part of the old dam near the river outlet (ranged from 23 to 1,397 lampreys caught per year). The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has plans to construct a barrier at that site in 2001, which will eliminate the need for upstream lampricide treatments in the future.
• Agricultural withdrawal of irrigation water north of Gill road

Near-Term Project Needs
1. Road crossing improvements (to discuss priorities with Task Force)
2. Recreation access improvements at mouth to eliminate erosion sources
3. Ecological corridor improvements with private landowners, possibly as part of a larger corridor under the Wild Link program
4. Permanent land protection in the corridor

Long-term project needs
1. Six of nine road crossings are in need of repair. Total estimated cost: $510,000
2. Removal of remnant structures and woody debris where flow is blocked
3. Trail/park connection needs to be explored
4. Additional beaver trapping removal
5. Establishment of legal lake level and responsibility for dam operation and maintenance
6. Possible improvements at old dam near outlet (note U.S. Fish & Wildlife plans for lamprey barrier)
7. Explore alternative irrigation sources for agricultural use
8. Other land use measures, regulatory and voluntary


Archives
2020
May (1)
June (2)
2019
May (1)
June (1)
July (1)
2018
May (1)
2017
May (3)
June (2)
July (1)
2016
May (2)
June (2)
July (1)
2015
May (2)
June (1)
2014
May (3)
June (5)
July (5)
2013
May (1)
July (4)
2012
May (2)
2011
May (1)
June (4)
2010
June (2)
2009
May (3)
June (1)
2008
May (1)
June (1)
July (3)
2007
May (5)
July (3)
2006
June (2)
July (3)
2005
June (1)
July (5)
2004
May (2)
June (1)
2003
May (8)
June (4)
July (3)
2002
May (4)
June (2)
July (3)
2001
1999
June (1)

Become a CRA Member

Our partners and supporters, like you, are what really make a difference. Your support of our organization and projects are what make the biggest impact. We appreciate your investment. Together, we do great work. 

E-Newsletter Sign-up

Sign up for our e-newsletter to keep current with news and other happenings at CRA!

Conservation Resource Alliance

Bayview Professional Centre
10850 Traverse Highway, Suite 1180
Traverse City, MI 49684
231-946-6817

SIGN UP