Betsie River

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Betsie River Wetland Delta near Elberta, MI

The Betsie River is a 54.0-mile-long (86.9 km)[1] stream in the northwest part of the U.S. state of Michigan. The name is derived from the French Riviere Aux Bec Scies, meaning river of sawbill ducks (bec-scie). Other alternate names include Aug-sig-o-sebe, Aux Buscies, Betsey's River, Black Robe, Gay-she-say-ing, Riviere du Pere Marquette, Sawbill Ducks, and Shelldrake Ducks.[2] The river is mostly within Benzie County (which takes its name from a variant pronunciation of the river), although the river rises in southwest Grand Traverse County and flows briefly through northern Manistee County, Michigan.

The river widens to form Betsie Lake before emptying into Lake Michigan at 44°37′45″N 86°14′45″W / 44.62917°N 86.24583°W / 44.62917; -86.24583 between Frankfort and Elberta. The Betsie River is a part of Michigan's Natural Rivers Program.[3]

Betsie River along bike trail east of Elberta

Course[edit]

While most sources indicate the river rises as the outflow of Green Lake at 44°35′31″N 85°47′40″W / 44.59194°N 85.79444°W / 44.59194; -85.79444 in southwestern Grand Traverse County, some consider it navigable immediately south of US-31 from Tuller's Lake to Green Lake. Green Lake straddles the boundary between Grant Township on the south and Green Lake Township on the north between Karlin and Interlochen. Several nearby lakes, including Duck Lake and its tributaries, drain into Green Lake.

The river winds southwesterly from Green Lake into eastern Benzie County, and then briefly into northern Manistee County before turning northerly back into Benzie County. A dam on the river forms Homestead Pond, after which is flows mostly west and slightly north to Lake Michigan.

Betsie River emptying into Lake Betsie, Elberta, MI (bridge shown is M-22 crossing the river outlet)

Drainage basin[edit]

The Betsie River drains an area of approximately 155,026 acres (627.37 km2)[4] in three counties. The drainage basin include about 93 miles (150 km) of linear stream, 52 miles (84 km) of which is part of the mainstream.[5]

Dams[edit]

  • Homestead Dam 44°35′48″N 86°04′48″W / 44.59667°N 86.08000°W / 44.59667; -86.08000[6] was mostly removed in 1974 and currently acts as a lamprey barrier. It impounds little water and does not impede salmon migrations.[4] The remains of the dam are now sometimes called "Homestead Falls".[7] The dam was a power generating facility formerly owned by Consumers Energy.[5]
  • Grass Lake Dam, approximately 4 miles (6 km) downstream from Green Lake, forms an approximately 90-acre (36 ha) impoundment. The dam was constructed in 1951 to improve waterfowl habitat and northern pike fishing.[4] The dam was installed by the state Wildlife Division and created a 482 acres (195 ha) waterfowl flooding.[5]
  • Thompsonville Dam was an old power dam[5] that failed in the spring of 1989 and was subsequently removed. Prior to its removal, the dam posed a barrier to salmon migration. Salmon and trout have access to the entire mainstream of the river, even above the Grass Lake Dam.[4]

Tributaries[edit]

Betsie River east of Elberta, MI
Betsie River wetland near Elberta, MI

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed November 21, 2011
  2. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Betsie River
  3. ^ Betsie River, Michigan Department of Natural Resources
  4. ^ a b c d Betsi River, Mark A. Tonello, "Status of the Fishery Resource Report, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, No. 2004-3, 2004
  5. ^ a b c d Betsie River Natural River Plan, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, July 1973, revised March 12, 2002
  6. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Homestead Dam
  7. ^ The Betsie River, Hanmer's Canoe Trips
  8. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Betsie Lake
  9. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Crystal Lake Outlet
  10. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Cold Creek
  11. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Rice Creek
  12. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Dair Creek
  13. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Little Betsie River
  14. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Pickerel Creek
  15. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Twin Lake
  16. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Upper Twin Lake
  17. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Grass Lake
  18. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Mud Lake
  19. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Green Lake
  20. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Bridge Lake
  21. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Tullers Lake
  22. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Cedar Hedge Lake
  23. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Mud Lake
  24. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Duck Lake
  25. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Brigham Creek
  26. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Mason Creek
  27. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Weidenhamer Swamp
  28. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Tonawanda Lake
  29. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Ellis Lake
  30. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Saunders Lake

External links[edit]