Lakes and Streams of Kalkaska County

It all started when…

the glaciers receded from this region. Three headwaters were formed in what we now know as Kalkaska County. A headwater is a tributary stream of a river close to or forming part of its source. The Boardman River, Rapid River, and Manistee River all get their start right here in Kalkaska County!

We have a duty to monitor these waterways to keep them free of pollutants and sedimentation. Every year we host and work with partners to facilitate river clean up days to keep debris out of the rivers. In 2018 we worked with many volunteers to remove over 60 pounds/yards of debris from 22 river miles of the Upper Mansitee River! We also participate in a MiCorp Stream Sampling program to monitor tributaries of the Manistee River for changes in macroinvertabrates populations. Macroinvertabrate populations are often indicators that river health is declining or improving.

In the Rapid River watershed we work with the County Parks and Recreation Committee to manage Rugg Pond, a 35 acres parcel with a dam located 5 miles from town. Staff are securing funding to complete a multi-stage project to improve the property. The project with begin with a sedimentation survey that will guide management plans for maintaining the dam.

Staff have begun to work closely with various lake associations to promote healthy lake management. The Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership has been instrumental to these partnerships. You can learn about some of the lake associations and that lake health by following the links in the list below.

Don’t see your lake association listed? Send Renee a note at to be added to the list.