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Johnson Creek Restoration

Johnson Creek Restoration

Johnson Creek is a tributary to the Middle Branch of the Rouge River. The established Johnson Intercounty Drain is 3.6 miles long with an existing right-of way along its length. It is highly channelized with spoil berms along the banks and extensive bank erosion.

The Johnson Intercounty Drainage Board received a USEPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) grant to design the restoration of a portion of Johnson Creek designated as an intercounty drain.  Johnson Creek is a tributary of the Middle Branch of the Rouge River, which it joins near Northville. The project, once implemented, is expected to increase the number and variety of native fish, mussels, and aquatic bugs and quality of wildlife habitat.

The project design, once implemented, will:
-Restore 6 acres of habitat along the banks of the river
-Improve habitat and connect habitats within 2 miles of Johnson Creek


The project is currently in the 30% design concept phase, and a design draft has been presented detailing the proposed locations for restoration practices which include flood benches, riffle‐pool sequences, and riparian plant community enhancements. The plans presented are drafts and are subject to modification as the design process progresses. For a full description explaining what is presented in the design drafts feel free to view the recorded Zoom Coffee Hour session listed in Past Events.

Past Events

On July 7th, two 1-hour informational sessions were hosted by the Johnson Creek Intercounty Drainage Board and experts from Environmental Consulting and Technology (ECT). Project progress and specifics concerning the Johnson Creek Restoration project were discussed at length. If you missed the sessions but you would like to learn more about what was discussed follow the links below to view the slideshow or watch a recording of the meeting.

Learn More

Johnson Creek is the only coldwater stream in the Rouge River watershed capable of supporting the types of fish like trout and mottled sculpin that are adapted to coldwater habitats. The colder water is created by groundwater. Channelization and a buildup of sediment has contributed to fish and wildlife habitat that lacks the diversity needed to support productive fish and wildlife populations. In addition, the conditions contribute to low dissolved oxygen concentrations in the waters of Johnson Creek, which is one of the most important indicators of water quality for animals that live in its waters. Dissolved oxygen is necessary for the survival of fish, mussels, and aquatic bugs.

This project will result in the restoration and enhancement of 2 miles within the 3.6-mile designated drain and 6 acres of area along the banks of the river to advance the removal of the following habitat-related Beneficial Use Impairments (BUIs):
-Degradation of Fish and Wildlife Populations
-Degradation of Benthos (physical)
-Loss of Fish and Wildlife Habitat

Note: In an effort to reduce confusion, the Johnson Creek Intercounty Drain Board would like to inform everyone that the project is a habitat restoration project being funded by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). The project is not related to the GFL landfill or environmental concerns associated with polyfluoroalkyl substances, otherwise known as PFAS. Landfill management and PFAS concerns are being handled by the appropriate state and federal agencies.