Petrifying Springs Park Renovation

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Project Overview

The Pike River Watershed has been an ongoing interest of local jurisdictions for many years. In the Comprehensive Plan for the Pike River Watershed (1983), the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) notes that the reach of the Pike River between Petrifying Springs Park and Kenosha Country Club was impounded. That water movement negatively affected local fish populations. This plan was the first to outline specific management techniques for the watershed.

Restoration of the Pike River within Petrifying Springs Park addresses a “critical area” of the river as highlighted in the EPA-approved Nine Element Pike River Watershed Plan (2013). This site is extremely important as it is one of the largest and least fragmented green infrastructure hubs in the watershed. Streambank and channel restoration efforts follow the plan’s recommended practices.

Kenosha County’s restoration activities on the Pike River are part of a large, ongoing effort conducted within the Pike River Watershed. The Village of Mount Pleasant restored a seven-mile corridor of the North Branch of the Pike River. Kenosha County has taken a proactive approach to restoring the Main Branch of the Pike River that flows through Petrifying Springs Park and ultimately the UW-Parkside campus.

The Pike River Restoration Projects within Petrifying Springs Park were partially funded with support from numerous stakeholders. This includes the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency EPA/Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the Fund for Lake Michigan, Wisconsin DNR River Protection Program, and revenue from the Petrifying Springs Biergarten and Boundless Adventures outdoor adventure park in Bristol.

Phase I: Completed in 2018

In 2017, Kenosha County secured a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to initiate Phase I restoration efforts. Kenosha County addressed streambank erosion and improved in-stream structure and streamflow dynamics on a 3,145-linear-foot reach of the stream. Native vegetation plantings were installed within the 5.2-acre riparian habitat to stabilize and improve filtration and infiltration of the riparian corridor. 

A wetland delineation was completed in the summer of 2017. Engineering, design, and construction documents were completed in the spring of 2018. The restoration at Petrifying Springs Park project began in July 2018. All grading work was completed by November 2018. 

To learn more about this nonpoint source success story, download the EPA's overview paper found here

Phase II: Completed in 2021

Phase II encompasses a 3,280-linear-foot stretch of the Pike River. It included the planting of native vegetation on 4.83 acres of the riverbank habitat within the central section of Petrifying Springs Park. 

Similar to Phase I, stone revetments were installed to prevent erosion and stabilize the once-eroded, steep slopes along the river. Natural elements, such as toe wood protection, log vanes, and planting of native vegetation, were installed within the river to protect the stream bank from eroding and provide in-stream cover for fish.

Approximately three-quarters of a mile of new trails were developed. This allows the public to gain recreational access to the Pike River corridor in the area, including for fishing and the use of non-motorized watercraft. The playground in the park’s Area No. 4, which has been subjected to flooding, will be relocated in 2022 to a spot west of the river, outside of the floodplain.

You can read more on the 2021 unveiling of the project in A Wealth of Nature's spotlight piece, "Pike River Restoration: Enhancing the Watershed for a Cleaner Lake Michigan."