Bear Lake Hydrologic Reconnection and Wetland Restoration

Bear Lake is a moderately to highly eutrophic lake that has high levels of total phosphorus (TP) and summer blooms of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae).  Phosphorus source control is essential for the restoration of Bear Lake and removal of the Eutrophication and Undesirable Algae BUI for the Muskegon Lake Area of Concern (AOC).  Given the importance of Bear Creek as a major external source of TP loads to Bear Lake, controlling phosphorus from this tributary will provide a significant benefit for Bear Lake. 

Abandoned muck farms used for celery production, but now converted into shallow ponds, are adjacent to Bear Creek just before it enters Bear Lake (see red outlined area in map on right).  Given their location and past land use, these muck fields likely contain very high levels of phosphorus. Indeed, a recent study found that similarly converted celery fields located upstream of Mona Lake, another drowned river mouth system in Muskegon County, contributed a significant load of TP to Mona Lake via levee breaches.




Restoration plans within the Muskegon Lake AOC include the hydrologic reconnection of these flooded fields with Bear Creek and improved wetland habitat. Our study will characterize the sediment phosphorus characteristics of the muck fields and determine the degree to which the muck fields are contributing phosphorus to the water column. Thus, potential negative impacts to downstream habitats (i.e., Bear Lake) upon reconnection will be evaluated and possible mitigation strategies identified.





Maggie Weinert collecting
a sediment core for
phosphorus characterization.
Al Steinman retrieving pore
water samplers (i.e., peepers)
after a 2-week incubation.
Mary Ogdahl measuring water
quality with a YSI sonde.

This study is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Final Report

Project partner:
West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission (WMSRDC)

Project contacts:
Dr. Alan Steinman, Project Manager:
Mary Ogdahl, Lead Technician:

Page last modified September 5, 2013