Boardman-Charlevoix Watershed

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Hydrologic Unit Code: 04060105

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Watershed Overview

The Boardman-Charlevoix watershed is a 1664 square mile watershed located in the northwest corner of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. The watershed has over 217 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and has over 529 miles of streams and rivers that flow year-round.

Major waterways in the basin include the Elk River, the Boardman River, Lake Charlevoix, Little Traverse Bay, and the Carp River. The Grand Traverse Bay, which is part of the watershed, is one of the premier tourist and outdoor recreation regions in the State of Michigan. The Boardman River is the largest tributary to Grand Traverse Bay.

The majority of the Boardman River is in the North Central Hardwood Forest ecoregion. The uppermost reach (about 7-8 miles) of the North Branch Boardman River is in the Northern Lakes and Forest ecoregion. The Boardman’s well drained soils allow cold groundwater to the streams and provide for the stable stream flow. The Boardman River ranks among Michigan’s top 10 trout streams. It contains excellent populations of brook and brown trout.

The Boardman River watershed contains Great Lakes Beachgrass Dune, Dune Pine Forest, Great Lakes Shallow Marsh, Great Lakes Shoreline Cattail - Bulrush Marsh, Interdunal Wetland, and White Cedar - Boreal Conifer Mesic Forest. The watershed has baymouth/barrier beaches with bedrock nearshore, sandy beach/dunes with bedrock (resistant) nearshore, sandy beach/dunes with sand and gravel lag over clay nearshore, and sandy beach/dunes with sand/gravel nearshore. The watershed is home to species of Black Bear, Deer, Great Blue Heron, Lady Slippers, and Trillium. The watershed boasts scenic bluffs, forests, nearly a hundred inland lakes, several hundred miles of stream (including 55 miles of blue ribbon trout streams), intact wetland systems and globally rare ecosystems.

Waugoshance is an important Landbird stopover site, Raptor stopover site, Shorebird stopover site, and Waterfowl stopover site. It is home to Bald Eagle, Black Tern, Blackburnian Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Least Flycatcher, Mourning Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Piping Plover, Prairie Warbler, Purple Finch, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Ruffed Grouse, Veery, Wood Duck, Wood Thrush, Dwarf Lake Iris, Houghton's Goldenrod, and Pitcher's Thistle.

The primary land uses are forests and farmland. Agriculture, tourism and recreation dominate the economy. Cherries and other fruit crops dominate agricultural production in the region. Between 1996 and 2001, there has been a slight increase in developed land and slight decreases in grassland, farmland and grassland.

Additional information is available at Michigan State University's Institute for Water Research's Digital Watershed Tool for the Boardman-Charlevoix Watershed. This site has interactive watershed-based information on industrial facilities discharge sites, toxic release inventory, permit compliance system, water quality stations, bacteria stations, national sediment inventory stations, best management practices, water quality observation stations, weather data stations, impaired waters (reach and area), landcover change (1992-2001), landuse 2001, soil, and elevation.

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Watershed Activities

The Grand Traverse Bay region is currently experiencing tremendous population growth and development pressure, with a predicted 40% increase in population by 2020. Two of the three fastest growing counties in the state, Grand Traverse and Leelanau, are located within the watershed.

Sediment and excessive nutrient loading are two of the highest priority pollutants. Other pollutants that threaten the watershed’s designated uses include thermal pollution, toxins, changes in hydrologic flow, invasive species, pathogens, and loss of habitat. There has been a focus on streambank stabilization, bridge projects, woody debris installation for fish habitat, sand traps, and wildlife corridor work. Other projects have focused on management of nonpoint pollution, reducing stormwater runoff and pollution form shoreline properties; improving road/stream crossings; providing educational materials to the agricultural community; land stewardship and protection, forest management, and land use planning and management.


Watershed Management Plans

  • Boardman River — Grand Traverse Conservation District
  • Elk River Chain of Lakes — Antrim Conservation District
  • Long Lake — Grand Traverse County Drain Commission
  • Mitchell Creek — Grand Traverse County Drain Commission
  • Grand Traverse Bay—Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay
  • Lake Charlevoix, Charlevoix Conservation District
  • Elk River Chain of Lakes Watershed — Antrim Conservation District, Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, Conservation Resource Alliance
  • Little Traverse Bay — Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council

Watershed Data and Information

USGS Water Resources Links for: 04060105 - Boardman-Charlevoix

USGS State Information and Contacts:

Current Water Data:

All Water Data (Current and Historic Sites):

Other Data Links:

Current Regional/National Conditions:

Search USGS for Links, Publications and Web Sites Associated with:

EPA Links for the Boardman-Charlevoix - HUC 04060105

Invasive Species

To report invasive species, you can send an alert via e-mail or call 1-877-STOP-ANS.

Watershed Groups

For more information, see the USEPA Surf Your Watershed website or contact the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality at 517-335-6969 to request a copy of the following reports:

  • MI/DEQ/SWQ-01/135, “A Biological Survey of the Upper Boardman River and Selected Tributaries to the Boardman River”
  • MI/DEQ/SWQ-02/016, “A Biological Survey of Charlevoix County Streams, Charlevoix County, Michigan, 1998.”


Impaired (303d) Waters

A listing of impaired waters can be found on the U.S. EPA website for the Boardman-Charlevoix watershed

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Watershed Management Tools

Tools for addressing impairments in the watershed can be found at the Lake Michigan Lakewide Management Plan Watershed Tools]] page. Specific Lake Michigan Lakewide Management Plan Watershed Tools can be found at the following pages:


Subwatersheds for Boardman-Charlevoix Watershed

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Information on other Lake Michigan subwatersheds can be found at: Lake Michigan Subwatershed Information
HUC Watershed Name
04060105 0101 Spring Brook
04060105 0102 Walloon Lake-Bear River
04060105 0103 Bear River (Michigan)
04060105 0201 Stevens Creek-Jordan River
04060105 0202 Severance Creek-Jordan River
04060105 0203 North Branch Boyne River
04060105 0204 Jordan River
04060105 0205 Boyne River
04060105 0206 South Arm Lake Charlevoix
04060105 0207 Lake Charlevoix
04060105 0301 St Clair Lake
04060105 0302 Hanley Lake
04060105 0303 Cedar River-Intermediate River
04060105 0304 Clam Lake
04060105 0305 Torch Lake
04060105 0401 Wetzel Lake
04060105 0402 Headwaters Rapid River
04060105 0403 Rapid River
04060105 0404 Lake Skegemog
04060105 0405 Elk River
04060105 0501 Crofton Creek-North Branch Boardman River
04060105 0502 South Branch Boardman River
04060105 0503 North Branch Boardman River
04060105 0504 Brown Bridge Pond-North Branch Boardman River
04060105 0505 East Creek
04060105 0506 Jaxon Creek-North Branch Boardman River
04060105 0507 Boardman River
04060105 0601 French Farm Creek-Frontal Trails End Bay
04060105 0602 Carp Lake River
04060105 0603 Wycamp Creek-Frontal Lake Michigan
04060105 0604 Horseshoe Bend-Frontal Lake Michigan
04060105 0605 Fivemile Creek-Frontal Lake Michigan
04060105 0606 Roaring Brook-Frontal Lake Michigan
04060105 0607 Susan Creek-Frontal Lake Michigan
04060105 0701 McGeach Creek-Frontal Grand Traverse Bay
04060105 0702 Birch Lake-Frontal Grand Traverse Bay
04060105 0703 Petobego Pond-Frontal East Arm Grand Traverse Bay
04060105 0704 Acme Creek-Frontal East Arm Grand Traverse Bay
04060105 0705 East Branch Mitchell Creek
04060105 0706 Prescott Lake-Frontal Grand Traverse Bay
04060105 0707 Cedar Creek-Frontal West Arm Grand Traverse Bay
04060105 0708 Belangers Creek-Frontal Grand Traverse Bay