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Ruth Mott Foundation Gilkey Creek Relocation and Restoration

Landscape Performance Benefits


  • Manages all stormwater runoff generated on-site by converting 22% of the project area to green space and low-mow turf and incorporating a variety of stormwater management features.
  • Reduces flood-related restoration and clean-up costs by over 95%, saving an average of $10,000 to $15,000 annually.
  • Restored connectivity to 3 miles of upstream riparian corridor for terrestrial and aquatic species.


  • Reduced long-term site maintenance costs by 50%, an estimated annual savings of $20,000, by converting 6.6 acres of pavement and lawn to native landscapes.
  • Created local employment opportunities by utilizing contractors from the surrounding four-county region for 80% of work.

At a Glance

  • Designer

    SmithGroupJJR (now SmithGroup)

  • Project Type

    Stream restoration

  • Former Land Use


  • Location

    1406 Kearsley Street
    Flint, Michigan 48503
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  • Climate Zone

    Humid continental

  • Size

    16 acres

  • Budget

    $1.1 million

  • Completion Date


The relocation and restoration of over 1/2 mile of Gilkey Creek in Flint, Michigan included daylighting a portion of the creek that had been enclosed in a culvert for 25 years. The improved hydraulics, bank stabilization, and habitat restoration ended flooding on C.S. Mott’s historic Applewood estate. The project increased the capacity of Ruth Mott Foundation’s (RMF) environmental education outreach by supporting new programming at Applewood with a focus on habitat restoration, native landscapes, stormwater management, and wetland ecology. The project scope reflected the RMF’s mission and sought to create a demonstration project for Flint and Genesee County emphasizing sustainability and environmental education. 


Recurring flooding of Gilkey Creek was preventing the Ruth Mott Foundation from expanding programming and site enhancements. The frequency and extent of flooding was attributed to the creek’s enclosure in a 10-ft diameter culvert pipe, several thousand feet in length. The installation of the culvert restricted the natural flow of the creek during flood stages, resulting in a significant increase in flooding at the Applewood estate.


The landscape architect led the design of 4 alternatives to address the flooding problem and managed the project from design through construction. The preferred alternative focused on daylighting the creek through newly acquired property just south and east of the estate and re-establishing the riparian corridor, which was lost as a result of the creek enclosure.

  • A 1/2-acre wetland was created adjacent to 3 acres of asphalt parking lot to provide stormwater pretreatment, wildlife habitat, and educational opportunities.
  • All plants used in the riparian corridor restoration are native to Michigan. Over 200 trees, 300 shrubs, 1,200 aquatic plants, and 7 acres of native seed mix were used.
  • The 2,500-sf maintenance drive was built with pervious pavement in lieu of asphalt or concrete.
  • By requiring biodiesel for all heavy equipment, prohibiting idling for more than 10 minutes, and specifying regionally-manufactured materials, carbon emissions associated with construction were reduced.
  • The turf reinforcement matting, used extensively on the slopes throughout the floodplain, was made of 100% recycled materials.
  • Nearly 100% of materials from demolition were recycled (earthwork, concrete, asphalt, metals, parking lot lights, footbridge) and reused or composted (trees, roots, gravel base).
  • Aside from some of the PVC pipe and geotextile fabrics, all new products used on the project were manufactured within 500 miles of Flint.
  • Reusing materials from site demolition saved $38,000.
  • Transforming unearthed trees into wood chips for gardening purposes saved $18,000.
  • Sediment migration from upstream sources should be quantified to anticipate impacts on habitat structures.
  • Stringent maintenance is necessary during native seed establishment to keep invasive weeds from taking over.
  • Bird and mammal predation can have significant impacts on seeded and planted wetland species.

Project Team

Concept Design, Landscape Architecture, Civil Engineering, Horticulture, Environmental Science, Aquatic Biology: SmithGroupJJR (now SmithGroup)
Engineering Assistance: Rowe, Incorporated
Contractor: Posen Construction 


Stormwater management, Flood protection, Habitat creation, preservation & restoration, Operations & maintenance savings, Job creation, Wetland, Reused/recycled materials, Permeable paving, Bioretention, Native plants, Local materials, Biodiversity, Restoration

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