What is a Watershed?
Purpose of Watershed Protection
Lake Huron Watersheds
Michigan’s beautiful natural landscapes enrich our lives, but perhaps no landscape is more breathtaking than our coastal areas. Michigan has approximately 3,921 miles of Great Lakes shoreline – more coast than any other continental U.S. state. The Lone Lake-Ocqueoc River Watershed covers 824 square miles (527,373.3 acres) of Lake Huron coastline.
The Lone Lake Watershed is a transition zone between terrestrial and lake ecosystems. This zone is characterized by numerous small streams and watersheds that flow directly into Lake Huron. Although each of these component watersheds is relatively small, these streams provide important spawning habitat for Lake Huron fishes, and the wetland areas provide habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife species.
The coastal ecosystem not only serves as a vital transition area between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, but also provides critical habitat for many wildlife, fish and plant species. Coastal features such as wetlands and dunes are extremely fragile and can easily be impacted by land use activities and invasive species, such as phragmites. These areas require special attention because they provide habitat for unique species, buffer shorelines from erosion and are sensitive to alterations.
“Ocqueoc” is a Native American word meaning “crooked waters.” One look at the twisty, turning course of the river confirms that the Ocqueoc River was aptly named. The Ocqueoc River Watershed is located upon an area of limestone bedrock, leading to its karst topography characterized by sinkholes and the “undergrounds,” where a tributary disappears and remerges several hundred feet downstream. The Ocqueoc River is also known for having the largest waterfall in the Lower Peninsula. Ocqueoc Falls, with about a five-foot drop, is a very popular tourist attraction.
The headwaters portion of the Ocqueoc River Watershed contains expanses of wetlands and small lakes, many of which have been flooded by manmade impoundments. This area of the watershed is dominated by cedar, tamarack, balsam, poplar, aspen and black ash trees and supports a warm-water fishery with sunfish, bass and northern pike. After leaving the “chain of lakes,” the main branch of the Ocqueoc flows through Millersburg, then continues on over Ocqueoc Falls. The stone outcroppings here are a rare feature in northern Michigan. After passing the falls, the Ocqueoc is joined by cold-water tributaries Little Ocqueoc and Silver Creek, which cool the Ocqueoc’s temperature and allow it to support salmon, steelhead and trout fisheries.