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Lake Charlevoix and it's Watershed

Lake Charlevoix Facts
Surface Area 17,000 acres (26.5 sq. miles)
Shoreline Length 56 miles
Maximum Length - Main Basin 13.2 miles
Maximum Width - Main Basin 2.7 miles
Maximum Depth - Main Basin 122 feet
Maximum Depth - South Arm 58 feet
Watershed Area 335 sq. miles

Lake Charlevoix
General Watershed Description

Lake Charlevoix

With a surface area over 17,200 acres it is the 3rd largest lake in Michigan. The beauty of Lake Charlevoix has attracted visitors for more than a century with it's clean water, scenic shoreline, and superb fishing. Lake Charlevoix's tributaries are also a draw with their good water quality and trout fishing opportunities. The largest tributary, the Jordan River, is a State-designated natural river.

In spite of all their grandeur, these valuable water resources have not always been appreciated. Impacts to Lake Charlevoix's water quality date back to the late 1800s when lumbering occurred throughout the watershed and associated industries were built along the shores of the lake in Boyne City, East Jordan, and Charlevoix. Lake Charlevoix was primarily seen as a resource to use for water supply, navigation, and waste disposal. Lake Charlevoix's tributaries experienced a similar fate with damage from erosion and sedimentation from logging.

Although nearly 100 years have passed, water quality concerns still exist for Lake Charlevoix and its tributaries. The pollutants that threaten Lake Charlevoix's health today are not primarily from industrial sources such as tanneries and lumber companies, but nutrients and sediments from different human activities such as shoreline development, streambank erosion, and agricultural activities.

General Watershed Description

Drumlins in Marion Twp. [Click here to view full size picture] Size: The Lake Charlevoix Watershed is expansive, over 335 sqare miles. The Jordan River and the Boyne River are the largest tributaries contributing nearly 75% of the discharge of all the tributaries to Lake Charlevoix. The Jordan River, a State-designated Natural River, flows from Antrim Co. and discharges into Lake Charlevoix in East Jordan. The Boyne River starts in the east side of Charlevoix Co. and discharges into Lake Charlevoix in Boyne City. Other significant tributaries include Horton, Stover, Porter, and Loeb Creeks. The outflow of Lake Charlevoix is Round Lake/Pine River which discharge to Lake Michigan. Groundwater and precipitation also account for a portion of water inputs to Lake Charlevoix and its tributaries. Soil: The soils in the Lake Charlevoix Watershed vary greatly from steep sandy soils to wet mucky soils. General soils in the headwaters of the Boyne River subwatershed are in the Kalkaska-Leelanau association, the steepest association in the watershed. These soils are well-drained, mainly sloping to steep on the hilly moraines. The predominant soil type found along the streambanks is the Carbondale-Lupton-Tawas association. These are very poorly drained, level to gently sloping organic soils in depressional areas on till plains, outwash plains, and lake plains. These soils are indicative of the commonly found shoreline wetlands which are valuable for water quality protection and overall watershed health. Along the lakeshore, the predominant soils found are the Kalkaska-Mancelona association which are well-drained to moderately well-drained sandy soils that are nearly level and common in lake plains. The soils that fill in the areas between the tributaries and the lakeshore are dominated by the Emmet-Leelanau association which includes well-drained, sandy soils on moraines with varying steepness, from gently rolling to very steep. Topography: The work of the glaciers is visible to the eye in the Lake Charlevoix Watershed. The drumlins and moraines created some 10,000 years ago are an important feature of the landscape (shown in the picture above). The soil type most common in many of the drumlins and moraines is the Emmet-Onaway association, a more loamy soil found in nearly level to very steep areas. Many of the soils in the watershed are susceptible to erosion. The Lake Charlevoix Watershed is one of the few areas in Michigan where drumlins are found. The drumlins and moraines run roughly parallel to the lake and the pattern of the ice movement can be identified when looking at topographic maps or aerial photos. The moraines rise in places to 300 feet above the lake level. The beach ridges or lake plains show evidence of the former Great Lake levels of Lake Algonquin and Lake Nipissing. Taking a drive through the Lake Charlevoix Watershed, one sees gently rolling hills, productive farmland, excellent swimming areas, large expanses of forest and wetlands, steeply sloped hills, and relatively flat lake plains. Threatened & Endagered species: There are numerous state listed threatened and endangered plant and animal species that are found within the Lake Charlevoix Watershed, specific locations can be found through the assistance of the Michigan Natural Features Inventory. (Click MNFI to visit web site). Reducing nonpoint source pollution will be beneficial in helping to address the habitat constraints and other factors that are harming these species. Specifically, the common loon and osprey will both benefit from water quality protection and improvements. Significance: The abundance and diversity of significant natural resources in the Lake Charlevoix Watershed is extensive. From high-quality cedar swamps, scenic views, and the home to many threatened and endangered plants and animals - protecting the water quality through watershed management is very important to protecting the overall health of the Watershed.
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