The Bear Creek Watershed takes up the largest area of all watersheds in Cannon Township. Bear Creek winds throughout the lower half of the township and has many smaller creeks, called tributaries, which drain into it.
Bear Creek begins near Bostwick Lake in the northeastern part of Cannon Township and is joined by flows from McCarthy and Ratigan Lakes, which are located in Grattan Township to the east. Its major tributaries are Arch, Armstrong, Stout and Waddell Creeks which enter Bear Creek as it meanders along Cannonsburg Road and eventually flows into the Grand River near Chauncey Drive.
Bear Creek is one of the finest small streams in Kent County and flows mainly through farmland and open space. The upper reaches of the creek are highly vegetated- which keeps the creek cool, its banks stable, and provide food for the many organisms that it supports. However, the lower part of the creek is still recovering, and is improving well, from damage done when the course was altered to make room for Cannonsburg Road and the ski hills.
The Bear Creek Watershed drains approximately twenty-nine square miles (29mi2), or 20,096 acres, of rolling hills and steep slopes in northeastern Kent County. Although the watershed is located primarily within Cannon Township, approximately 15% of its total area lies within Grattan Township, and significantly smaller amounts are within Ada, Vergennes and Plainfield Townships as well. Slightly more than half of Cannon Township (55%) is encompassed by this watershed.
The Bear Creek Watershed Protection Overlay District
Did you know that three creeks and their tributaries in Cannon Township are protected by The Bear Creek Watershed Protection Overlay District?
Bear Creek, Stout Creek, Armstrong Creek and their tributaries are protected within 100 feet on each side of the creeks. The purpose of the ordinance is to prevent erosion along creek banks, prevent sediment from entering the creeks, preserve and enhance vegetation along the creeks and ensure adequate setbacks for buildings, structures and septic systems.
Natural vegetation strips along creek banks and following minimum setbacks are vital to the health and well being of our streams. Vegetation helps filter sediment and runoff, controls erosion and provides wildlife habitat.
While you may think a tree is obstructing your view of the creek, remember that a tree canopy keeps the water temperature cool and regulated, which in turn provides the perfect environment for trout and other aquatic creatures.
Also, it is wise to avoid use of lawn chemicals if you live next to a creek. Chemicals will runoff into the creek or leach into ground water. This in turn will affect everything from insects, fish, birds and humans.
Planting of perennial native species along the creek banks is encouraged. These plants are well adapted to our local climate, plus wildlife and insects find native plants great places to nest and feed.
Some properties may not fall under the ordinance. Since the ordinance went into effect in 1996, some properties at that time did not have a vegetation strip or already had structures close to the creek. However, if your property is located in this district and there currently is natural vegetation surrounding the creek, you may not disturb it in accordance to the ordinance.